text: Oscar Wendt
Behemoth, Bölzer, Batushka
9th of October 2016
B90, Gdańsk, Poland
Visiting Poland for one of the gigs from Behemoth tour was supposed to be a highlight of my music trips in 2016. Rzeczpospolita Niewierna (Republic of the Unfaithful) was an instant marketing hit and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it – the tour which I knew media in Poland would talk about for many reasons. As the shitstorm from the ultra fanatical and catholic parties continued, I watched what was happening with the image of Nergal counting money constantly in my head. Anyway, the short but really interesting line-up of Behemoth, Bölzer and Batushka seemed to have attracted a lot of people with the shows sold out and fans desperately looking for tickets willing to pay a high price. I have chosen to attend the concert in Gdańsk not only because of my friends going for this particular show but also for another important reason – B90 is one of the best (if not the best) venue I have ever been to in terms of the sound and light quality.
Just on the arrival to the venue, we’ve encountered the first attraction of the night – the most dedicated group of Behemoth fans, assiduously following the band on tour and always being first at the venue. The incoherent drivel they were trying to put through using loudspeakers might have been pathetic but the banners saying ‘Maria will crush the serpent’s head‘ or ‘Lucifer: the eternal loser‘ made us everyone laugh. And so did the man playing bagpipes… It just made me think that their faith must be really weak if they’re so scared of a band… But okay, let’s leave those lunatics behind and let them live in their deluded world.
Soon after entering B90 and spending some cash on merchandise and the card top-up, we approached the stage ready to witness the orthodox liturgy as Batushka was the first band on the bill that night. It was already the third time this year when I was seeing this mysterious and so loved (or hated) group so the excitement was a bit faded (also probably because of a massive hangover from the night before). Starting right on time, Batushka entered the stage and immediately I knew this was going to be very different experience than before. Finally, the band sounded exactly as on the record, with a base drum blissfully stirring my guts and all the instruments being in place! The vocals might have been really quiet at the beginning but it quickly got repaired and we were able to revel in the countless blasts, doomy sections and atmospheric choirs. They certainly hit the spot this time! The monumental aura of Batushka makes it a fantastic band to enjoy live but only if the audience is not there! For fuck’s sake, it’s not a thrash metal band that you have to jump around, clapping, shouting and cheering like you’ve heard metal music for the first time! I know, I know… that may make ME sound as if that was my first metal show but Batushka is a sort of band that I just want to stand and witness in peace, absorbing every second of their liturgy. But yeah… out of my three times with Batushka this year, that was certainly the best one! Thanks B90!
video: BLEED TO DEATH
A very similar story concerned my experience with Bölzer – third time that night and before I got to experience the band with some unsatisfying sound which killed my affection to the Swiss horde. After Batushka, I knew that was going to change. After a refreshing drink and a less refreshing smoke, we reapproached the stage for the second band that Sunday night. Oh yeah, soon after the first notes from Bölzer I realized this must be how Hell sounds like and that I want to go there soon! Oh… that raw and unpolished noise! All done by two men which, put against a swarm of Batushka musicians, might have looked humble but there was certainly nothing missing. Sometimes the less is more and the Swiss take this rule into their hearts. At some point however, the speakers told us all the big ‘fuck you‘ and the sound turned into a proper lo-fi, leaving the audience being actually louder than the sound from the stage. It went on for good 5 minutes before it got repaired and it affected half of my favourite Entranced by the Wolfshook. Nevertheless, I have quickly left my anger behind and Bölzer managed to finish off their hellish show in a proper style! And I really can’t wait to hear their upcoming full-length album, Hero, in full!
The time has come for the last break and the pièce de résistance of the night – the mighty Behemoth! Absolutely no surprises there! But that’s not bad what I mean! I have seen the same set at Brutal Assault this year and I have got used to their professionalism throughout the years so I knew exactly what to expect. But Behemoth never gets bored and never disappoints. I believe that the majority of the gathered people in the absolutely packed B90 would agree. Their ritual-like performance featured The Satanist in full plus a few additional tracks including Pure Evil and Hate (oh yeah!) which gave the show a bit more ‘rock’n’roll‘ feeling. The fires, the famous confetti (by the way, isn’t it a bit infantile?) and actually each minute of the show made me really proud of Behemoth and really happy I get to see them in their hometown first time after the famous show with the Bible back in 2007. It’s worth adding that luckily, Nergal was not very talkative – I was expecting him to get more excited about the won battle with catholics, blah blah blah… He just mentioned the case before Conquer All which, I think, put everyone in the proper gallant mood! A middle finger to the delusional fanatics that protest against something they cannot win with! After all, I was left with exactly the same thought as after Behemoth’s show at Brutal Assault – ‘fucking hell, how professional and flawless they want to get?‘. And yeah, I am really curious what will be their next marketing steps strengthening their position in the metal scene and building up the social pressure of those who, let’s say, can’t appreciate the art of this Polish beast. Well, time will tell us…
After the show, I couldn’t get over the fact how I love B90 as a venue and how different it is to the most of the places I’ve been to before. It was only my second time there but just thinking I will revisit Gdańsk and B90 to get to hear Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas later this year makes my black heart actually pound! The attendance and the acclaim of all the shows on Rzeczpospolita Niewierna tour showed how important is to have an unconventional marketing in place if you want to be in a position of the band like Behemoth. It also showed that a lot of people have some common sense and they simply like good metal!