Review Summary: This is one live album that manages well to capture the sheer brutality that is a Behemoth show
For me, the outstanding attribute of Behemoth has always been the impervious ardour and passion of front man Nergal. His voice, although for the most part being double tracked in their studio efforts, is always affecting in that the sheer ferocity with which he performs means that the listeners are led to believe that he is actually sincere and genuinely cares about, or is provoked by, what he is singing about. It is this that makes ‘At The Arena Ov Aion’ such a stirring listen.
As intro ‘Rome 64 e.v’ fades out and a short drum burst usurers in ‘Slaying The Prophet Ov Isa’, it is apparent the band are on top form, the guitars locked in water tight with the percussion as they blaze through the track with an adrenalized vigour that only playing live can provide. The live setting is also what makes Nergals vocal work so powerful, which is ironic given that most would assume the studio thickening is what gives him his signature roar. Throughout songs such as ‘Conqueror All’ and ’At The Left Hand Ov God’ he snarls and growls with a truly huge level of conviction, and maintains this raw, violent approach, never letting up on the enthusiasm and force he so convincingly displays. It is clear that the invigoration of the occasion has drawn out of a Nergal an extremely wholehearted execution.
This is not to say that the rest of the outfit are not equally as impressive. Drummer Inferno is simply stunning. The brutality with which he attacks his kit during ‘Slaves Shall Serve’, barraging us with quick fire snare hits and nimble double bass work, drives home what a talent he is, and the stamina he displays by completing the entire set whilst retaining his flawless technical performance is astonishing.
The guitar playing is also fantastic, with the crisp and clear production revealing some subtle melodic nuances that may have slipped under the radar in studio produced efforts, especially on the aforementioned ’Slaves Shall Serve’, which has some pleasingly snaking guitar lines which are all too easy to lose in amongst the sonic intensity. Some rather stellar solos also add a nice melodious facet to some tracks, making for a pleasant change of pace and a welcome rest bite from the rapid assault.
Ultimately what ‘At The Arena Ov Aion’ does is act as a showcase for a death metal band at the peak of their game. Behemoth have managed to conjure a frenzied atmosphere and a punishing experience that every extreme outfit wish to achieve, and with a mix that makes the instrumentation sound positively crushing, this is one live album that manages well to capture the sheer brutality that is a Behemoth show.