Review: Behemoth @ The Gov (Adelaide)

Behemoth played The Gov (Adelaide) on 29 November, 2023 - image © Mike Lockheart
Mike's life calling is live music photography. He's been lucky to work with bands shooting behind the scenes videos, concert photography and continues to shoot as often as he can with scenestr. More work and musings can be seen on @first3only.

A twisted sermon of blasphemy reigned over the City of Churches on Wednesday night, as The Gov hosted the second of Adelaide's Good Things Festival sideshow events.

Polish blackened-death metal band Behemoth brought their intense live show back to Adelaide, having last played the SA capital in 2019 opening Slayer's farewell tour.

Tonight's event (29 November) brought out the black-clad masses with a near capacity house onlooking and mesmerised by frontman Nergal's truly electrifying presence.

Support acts MUNT and Golgothan Remains respectively set a guttural tone of bleak brutality, both sharing cookie monster vocals and mind-bending guitar lines.

What each band lacked in melody was more than made up for with frenzied, double kick bass drums from start to finish and concerningly in-you-face frontmen.

The arrival of Behemoth to stage is an ever-exciting prospect. With their live production, presentation and onstage personas evolving with each album and tour, the creative mastermind behind the band, frontman Nergal's entrance this time terrified and shocked the room.

Behemoth - image © Mike Lockheart

Seemingly appearing out of pitch blackness, momentarily showing flashes of his howling expression with a flashlight, he set a low-key tone of terror for what would become a monumentally powerful opening.

'Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer', from their 2014 landmark album 'The Satanist' was first up, and in its opening lines, the imposing figures of bassist Orion and guitar player Seth cast silhouettes in front of harsh back lighting.

The intimate stage of The Gov seemingly at bursting point, not least because of the gargantuan drum kit assembled for drummer Inferno, sat high above the other players.

Nergal's snarling lyrics were spat with a look of disgust and anger, critical of religious establishment and championing of freedom.

In the performance of 'Conquer All', he adorned a sinister metallic mask, removed at the end to display a pained expression, while moving in sudden and precise motions, culminating in a terrifying stage presence.

Behemoth - image © Mike Lockheart

As the venue's blasting air conditioning flushed onlookers with an icy chill, the bleak soundscape created in the song rang all the more true.

Despite the onslaught of technical blast-beat drumming, mechanical riffing and snarled screaming, the band's live production team worked to provide the best audio fidelity that this concert goer has ever heard at The Gov, which allowed Nergal and co's fury to be communicated as it should be heard – with gripping amazement and shock.

With all the clarity of an evangelical mega-church's high-end sound system, Nergal's theatrics were equally matched. During 'Versvs Christvs' he crept over the front row of the intimate audience in priestly garb, swinging a golden thurible (the metal incense burner often used in Catholic mass).

This filled the room with a sickly smell of corruption as he spat lyrics of disdain and heresy, the blasphemy only to be surpassed later in the song as he held a bible high above his head and tore pages from it, scattering them to the crowd.

Those same pages later, in the hands of crazed fans, shred further and thrown into the stream of the AC, created a blizzard of pulp and parchment across the room as furious sound filled the four walls.

Behemoth - image © Mike Lockheart

Behemoth's macabre musical crescendoed to a breathtaking end, with an orchestral segue from 'Chant For Eschaton 2000' to 'O Father, O Satan, O Sun!'.

Amid Nergal's twisted gesticulations, as if emitted from a disturbed preacher, collectively the band's corpse painted expressions transformed, from a charred, dusty look of menace that began the show, to a bruised and beaten, weathered look, to looking bloody and burned during the encore.

A terrifying spectacle, executed with class and precision that is sure to stand in line with the top-notch production of their Good Things Festival associates this weekend.

More photos from the show.

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