Even by their own genre's standards, Polish black/death metal outfit Behemoth sounds like a relentless hailstorm of jackhammer drumming and super-fast, abrasive riffing. As if the band's whiteface outfits and anti-Christian artwork weren't clear enough, the latest album is called The Apostasy, which means "renunciation of religion." Thankfully, though, there's way more to Behemoth than just your average group of musicians with a bug up their ass about Christ. Behemoth comes with a great deal of intellectual weight and, as bandleader Nergal explains, the band's outlook isn't primitive. A world traveler who was struck by the religious iconography he witnessed first-hand in places like Nepal and Israel, Nergal also culls influences from Milton's poetry and the literature of Percy Bysshe Shelley. The band's blend of Hindu and vaguely fascist symbolism on the new album, coupled with Nergal's voluminous liner notes, are worth the price of admission. And while you're there banging your head up and down until your neck is sore, remember that Nergal (who appears to be just an affable, regular guy in interviews) eschews religion because he feels that, without it, people can make their lives happy and beautiful. Isn't that sweet? Let's hope lots of church groups show up and have a good time as well.

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Saby Reyes-Kulkarni