Almighty black and death metal legends Behemoth tore up the stage at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco Friday night, November 23. This was my first time seeing the Polish Satanic-lyrical themed powerhouse. I knew after all of these years listening to them as my main gym playlist that their shows would be like no other.
Wolves In The Throne Room who brought amazing atmospheric black metal to the table were the show openers. Swedish melodic death metal pioneers At The Gates played after incorporating more movement from the crowd when playing classics like “Blinded By Fear”.
When the stage banner was being put up for Behemoth along with their iconic mic stands, I noticed the audience space getting more should-to-shoulder. Stage lights were not even cut yet at this point and the haunting kids choir from “Solve” from their new album came on the PA. The repeating chants “Living God! I shall not the forgive! Jesus Christ! I forgive thee not!” got the crowd ready and reciting back.
The suspense was lingering as the same lines repeated over and over not knowing when the members would come out and start the song. 5 minutes later each member comes out one by one in their dark aura costumes along with black skull masks and hoodies. The audience reacted intensely to the huge chords and relentless blasting.
Next they played “Wolves ov Siberia” and the circle pit was persistent from the sold-out show audience. Another track they played off “I Loved You At Your Darkest” was “Bartzabel” and the frontman Nergal came out to it wearing a huge dark bishop headpiece.
I was blown away how sick it was seeing their stage lights synched up with the heavy chugging of the guitars on the track “Ov Fire and The Void”. But the craziest response from the fans all night was when they played the barbaric “Demigod” classics “Conquer All” and “Slaves Shall Serve”.
On “Conquer All” the audience was roaring along to the lyrics and headbanging the whole time. When I heard the demonic vocal intro to “Slaves Shall Serve” I lost my mind and with adrenaline, forced myself into the mosh pit battle field. I went in the circle a few times sprinting as fast as I could. I was so in the zone that I forgot to breathe at one point. I came out of it about a minute later with a minor scar on my forearm that I didn’t notice until the next day.
Another notable part of the show was when they played the evil dragged-out track “Lucifer”. Nergal came out over the crowd railing and into the audience half way through with blood dripping from his corpse-paint face as he enthusiastically high fived and screamed for fans. He then stepped back on stage just in time to climb up the stairs to the next level to join side-by-side with drummer Inferno and guitarist Seth to finish off the eerie outro.
The last song they played was “Coagvla” and all four members marched towards the edge of the stage in military formation playing tenor drums in unison. When it ended, the lights cut out and the audience shouted throughout the large venue.
The theatrics, stage presence, energy, choreographed parts, and crowd response was the most unique thing I have witnessed at a concert to date. Throughout the show their heaviness and intensity was cathartic and inspiring in a way I’ve never felt before. It was a show I will take with me to my day to day life and remind myself to always strive and conquer all.
Author: Tom Sundgren