Ecclesia Diabolica Europa 2019 E.V. is the name of the devastating new tour which brought Behemoth around Europe, together with two other amazing bands, At the Gates and Wolves in the Throne Room. Lasting a month, and with almost no resting days, the tour is recording sold-out dates and is seeing the Polish giants playing their biggest headlining shows to date.
I had seen all three bands in the last year, so I went to the concert hoping for them to surprise me, and they did! The show in Stockholm was one of the few of the tour not to be sold out, but by the end of the night, the venue was very close to the full capacity of 4000 people (and perhaps it sold out with the tickets sold at the door).
The first band playing was Wolves in the Throne Room, one of the main exponents of the Black Metal Cascadian scene, a sort of very atmospheric and spiritual Black Metal. As their usual, the Americans played in a very dimmed light and almost didn’t interact with the crowd. After the first song, the guitarist lit some incense and spread the smoke on stage: one of their usual stage antics which turned the concert into some sort of ritual. The setlist included just three songs, the first three from their latest album, “Thrice Woven”, but their long length brought the performance to last half an hour; still too little for me, the show was great with the Wolves playing with great passion, but that’s the sad destiny of support bands.
The next band to take the stage was At the Gates, Swedish legends and among the fathers of the “Gothenburg sound” of Melodic Death Metal; usually, they are headliners themselves, but this time they agreed to support Behemoth (who today are bigger sellers) bringing the fans a very strong tour package. After having seen them twice last year, both times playing the same setlist, I welcomed happily the changes they made to it for this tour. The five musicians started by playing “To Drink from the Night Itself”, “Slaughter of the Soul” and “At War with Reality”, the title tracks of their last three albums. The last couple of times I had seen the band, they played only songs from these three albums; this time, while they still played mostly songs off of them, they also added a couple of tracks from older albums, “Kingdom Gone” from “The Red in the Sky is Ours” and “The Swarm” from “Terminal Spirit Disease”.
Everyone on stage was pumped up and the performance was really energic, with the singer Tomas ferociously barking the lyrics and often swinging the microphone at the crowd, inviting them to sing along. In between songs he often thanked the fans and told them how happy he was to be back at home in Sweden. The surprises were not over with the setlist changes, and Behemoth’s Seth joined the band to play “Blinded by Fear” as the set was coming to an end; two songs later the concert ended, an hour of powerful, solid Swedish Death Metal.
As the Swedes left the stage, a curtain came down to cover it while a spooky recording of children chanting “I shall not forgive, I shall not forget”, the lyrics from Behemoth’s “Solve” and “God=Dog”, started in the background. Lasting the almost half an hour before the headliners got on stage, the music really set the mood for the last part of the night.
When the time finally came, strong flashing lights projected the silhouette of the musicians on the curtain while “Solve”, the intro to “I Loved You at Your Darkest”, played. A very impactful beginning which set the tone of the show and was followed by the fall of the curtain which revealed a big stage and the four masked musicians.
Following the tracklist of their latest album, Behemoth started with “Wolves ov Siberia”, an aggressive song which was accompanied by a large use of flames on stage. Behind the drums, a large triangular screen projected parts of the band’s videos and other disturbing footage, very fitting to the show. The band continued with “Daimonos”, then “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”, songs from the previous two albums; the setlist included a nice mix of songs from Behemoth’s most successful albums, with an obvious focus on the latest one, from which they played five tracks. The other songs played were classics both older, like “Chant for Eschaton 2000” and “Slaves Shall Serve”, and more recent like “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”.
As written before, Behemoth are playing the biggest headlining tour of their career, and the Polish are turning this success into shows ever more spectacular. For “Bartzabel” the band’s leader, Nergal, came on stage wearing a “pontifical-like” hat, and for “Lucifer” the bassist, Orion, wore a huge feathered one.
It’s not only the stage clothes, everything on stage was perfect and huge: big flames, powerful lights, the screen in the back, all these elements remind of the shows of bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica, proving once again how big Behemoth have become. Besides the scenography, what really matters, the music was perfect with not a single note played wrong; Inferno is a monster drummer and hit hard and with precision his drums, Orion blasted is thunderous bass, and Seth and Nergal traded mighty riffs and solos.
75 minutes, and 14 songs, after they got on stage, the Poles left it in the middle of the ecstatic screams from the crowd. 75 minutes of unapologetic, extremely intense Metal showing that Behemoth are rightfully one the biggest bands not only in the extreme Metal scene but in the whole Metal scene.
All Photos © Davide Sciaky
At The Gates