Review Summary: Not too different to anything else behemoth have released since. 'Thelema.6' is a step up in terms of production and instrumental performance.
It may seem odd to say so, but 'Satanica' may well have been a much more significant album had it been released in the year of 2000. I say this because while it did signal the first giant step away from the traditional black metal atmospheres Behemoth had been using years before, it was also signified as a completely different sound at the turn of the new millennium.
However, 'Thelema. 6' beat it to that spot. Behemoth have obviously been sticking to the same musical formula ever since 'Satanica', only to realise that the instruments themselves have steadily improved with each subsequent release. 'Thelema. 6' is based on a spiritual philosophy developed by one of the world's most insightful people, Aleister Crowley, a man who had always tried to convince others something sinister was afoot with his extremely controversial writings. Of course, what else would you expect Behemoth to come up with? As well as the genre of Blackened Death Metal, their thoughts and perceptions of such religious and controversial topics have never been left out in their song-writing and lyrical content. However, they certainly had gone to a lot of trouble to make 'Thelema.6' as convincing as it could ever be. Firstly, on almost every song of the album, there are at least a few lines of genuine Egyptian language, although this is sung by Nergal himself. Secondly, they have invited a few people along to look into true Egyptian poetry (regarding the nature of the album's title, 'Thelema') and even use additional synthesisers to deviate from the too often generic musical patterns of Blackened Death Metal.
If you've just read the last paragraph and now feel exhausted, don't be surprised. The music itself is, if repetitive and boring at the same time, extremely well executed. I believe one of the highlights of the band's career has always been the technical guitar work, and this has only been enhanced by Behemoth's transition from Black Metal into Death Metal territory. Nergal's guitars literally scythe, hack and screech on every single song with enough uncontrollably powerful energy to make the listener feel excited throughout the whole album. They may not be to everyone's tastes, but each riff is technically precise and so well executed that you just don't need Nergal's vocals to make the songs seem evil and blasphemous. On the exceedingly good opener 'Antichristian Phenomenon' guitars work their way through without overstepping the mark or failing to reach the same quality as Behemoth's other works, and on the almost progressive feel of 'The Universe Illumination' and equally as scintillating 'Inauguration of the Scorpio Dome' solos squeal here, there and everywhere, only to further prove what technically precise guitarists Nergal and Mateusz actually are.
Equally as terrifyingly convincing are the drums, and whatever you may think of the genres of Black and Death Metal, “Inferno” does whatever he can to keep up with the pace of each and every guitar riff, and it works brilliantly. The technically battering rhythms of 'The Act of rebellion', the machine gun-like fire of 'Inflamed with Rage', and the double-barrelled intensity of 'In the Garden of Dispersion' all contribute to the genre as a whole, yet at the same time make themselves stand out alongside the guitar work.
Not every instrument is as proficient however. However many bass-lines or how much of the bass is actually used, it is almost impossible to ignore the guitar and drums when focussing on Marcin's bass duties. There are moments where they shine through though. The deliciously evil 'Pan Satyros' and disturbingly sinister 'Vinvm Sabbati' show that the bass can be heard alongside the excessively used guitars, even if it is only for a brief period of time. Another unfortunately annoying aspect of the music is the vocals themselves. Now, Nergal does use his narrative work to great effect, but all too often they are marred by the fact that his harsh vocals just don't match up to the quality of the guitars and drums, even if it is a traditionally enhanced aspect of Blackened Death metal. Put simply, the man frequently sounds as if he needs some medicine for his throat.
What is the most obvious thing when listening to an album like 'Thelema.6' is the structure itself. Unfortunately, the structure annoyingly never changes one bit. Sure, some of the guitar work can feel as if songs differ from each other, but listening to the album as a whole will perhaps make you realise that 'Thelema.6' should really have been a bit more creative. Fortunately though, this doesn't seem to be annoying for any Behemoth fan, and rightly so-because the performance itself more than makes up for the excessive repetition found within this album.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't listen to 'Thelema.6' is you haven't heard it before. Frankly, if you have heard Behemoth's music before, you will probably have already heard this album. If not, still try and get it, for the music is worthwhile enough to satisfy even those who haven't listened to Blackened Death metal before.