100 Greatest Songs of the Decade #38 Behemoth – Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer

Released: 2014

Unfamiliar places are best experienced with a guide. For several years in the world of extreme metal that role was Doug Moore’s, whose monthly Black Market columns for Stereogum were an intelligent, novice-friendly window onto what is for many music fans and society in general an oblique, often macabre world.

Moore’s work was so readable not just because it deliberately welcomed outsiders in a thoughtful and articulate way, but also as it shone a light on the dynamics of most underground movements and their calibration, about how and why they seek to isolate themselves rather than be explained to the straight world. Moore stressed that here were serious musicians making serious music, but that didn’t mean it’s sometimes quasi religious themes were to be swallowed whole, in the same way gangster rap shouldn’t influence listeners to go out and rob a bank.

Having arrived as part of Black Metal’s second, globally expansionist wave in the early 90’s, Behemoth’s catalogue had by the release of 2014’s The Satanist, become recognised for often showcasing their fluidity and songwriter Nergal’s openness to genre skewing.

Some license is clearly required here, particularly with lyrics such as “Great volcano of excrement/Waiting eagerly to erupt”, but metal’s unique ability to thrill, its primal urges, are expressed in wonderfully exhilarating, dark chapters amongst the corpse paint and blast beats. Thanks again, Doug.