Behemoth - At The Arena Ov Aion: Live Apostasy
1. Rome 64 C.E.
2. Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa
3. Antichristian Phenomenon
5. From The Pagan Vastlands
6. Conquer All
8. Drum Solo
9. Slaves Shall Serve
10. As Above, So Below
11. At The Left Hand Ov God
12. Summoning (Ov The Ancient Ones)
13. Christgrinding Avenue
14. Christians To The Lions
15. Sculpting The Throne Ov Seth
16. Decade Of Therion
17. Chant For Eschaton 2000
After eight full-length albums, it's finally time for a live album from Poland's Blackened Death masterminds Behemoth. An unbelievable act in studio, Behemoth are also one of the most powerful live acts I've seen, so "At The Arena Ov Aion" was also a test of sorts, to see if they could channel the power they possess in a live environment onto a CD recording. I can tell you right now, they passed.
From the roar of the crowd that preceeds the "Rome 64 C.E." intro leading straight into the first track of the night "Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa", up until the last notes of "Chant For Eschaton 2000" ("Pure Evil & Hate" for those with the metalbox with two extra tracks), this is an absolutely demonic foray into the realm of metal.
A drum solo follows "Prometherion", giving Inferno the chance to show off for just over a minute. It achieves its purpose and doesn't drag on for too long like some bands (mainly the prog ones) tend to do with 10+ minute solos. After the brief solo, the band moves on full-force into fan favorite "Slaves Shall Serve".
There is not a single song on here that sounds worse than in studio. Actually, I think each song present sounds much better, more crushing in a live environment. For an hour Behemoth doesn't give up, presenting metal offerings one after the other. The setlist is obviously geared towards their newer, blackened death approach, but we are treated to "From The Pagan Vastlands" and "Summoning (Ov The Ancient Ones)", which are just as heavy, just as awesome, live in 2008 as they were when they were recorded in the early 90's, proving that even the shift away from pure Black Metal hasn't really effected the way Behemoth plays their older songs (which can't be said for most bands who shift their styles).
"We're going to take you back 2000 years in history now, to ancient motherfucking Rome. When they used to say: CHRISTIANS WHAT?"
"TO THE LIONS!"
"TO THE LIONS!"
"CHRISTIANS TO THE LIONS!"
Nergal knows exactly what to say to introduce each song, to incite the crowd into a frenzy. No song on this album is out of place, and the flow is absolutely perfect. Never does it seem to lag, or jerk around. "Sculpting The Throne Ov Seth" is a nice way to begin the end of the album, with two more to go: my personal favorite "Decade of Therion" being one of them, and then ending the album proper with the classic "Chant For Eschaton 2000". Those that get the metalbox in January are treated to two extra songs: a Turbonegro cover "I Got Erection", and the final song of the night "Pure Evil & Hate".
Overall, it's one of the best live releases I've heard from any band. It doesn't jerk around, the flow is perfect, the sound is clear and you can easily hear every instrument with clarity. Every song is pulled off well, sounding better than on album in just about every case, and they really picked a great crowd to record, the crowd interaction in certain parts is amazing(especially the first two lines of "Christians to the Lions" where Nergal's "BEHOLD BASTARD SON!" is met with the crowd roaring "I AM THE EVIL ONE!")
This is going to sound extremely fanboy-ish, but at this point in time, "At The Arena Ov Aion: Live Apostasy" is my favorite release of 2008, and seeing as how the year is almost over it's probably going to stay that way. While it IS a live release as opposed to some of the great studio efforts put out this year [Moonspell, Ihsahn], Behemoth is one of my favorite bands and they're masters of the live setting.
For all Behemoth fans, picking up this album should be a no-brainer. For anyone looking to get into Behemoth, this would be a good place to start as it touches upon all their different styles, and maybe even those who don't like Behemoth on album should give it a try, maybe their live sound will win you over?
I'm definitely eagerly awaiting the live DVD coming next year that I'm quite sure is from the same show. This release is absolutely amazing, and I highly recommend it to each and every one of you.