Download 2014: Behemoth

The death metallers round off another day at Donington

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After releasing one of the best albums of the year in The Satanist, Behemoth set the world ablaze with their headline set on the Pepsi Max stage.

As the sun goes down over Download, darkness is growing inside the Pepsi Max tent. Before a crowd of dedicated followers, Polish blackened death metallers Behemoth bring their explosive ritual to the stage with smoke and fire. They kick off with the crushing Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, the opening track from their much-lauded latest album The Satanist, and continue with Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, which the whole audience chants along to. Though it’s evident the formidable frontman Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski is almost evangelical in his devotion to Satan, he also exudes warmth and love for both his fans and his art - “It feels good to be alive, Download!” he roars as he wields his guitar.

As well as being an incredibly tight set of musicians, a lot has to be said for these guys’ showmanship as well. From the giant inverted crosses that adorn the stage to the altar at which Nergal snarls into his flaming microphone, every element of their performance has been thought out to the last detail, and as a result is visually stunning - even the way that Nergal, Inferno and Orion’s movements on stage are completely in sync, which has to have been choreographed, just looks effortless, and really fucking cool.

They give a thoroughly passionate performance until they leave the stage, only to reappear in black horned masks for a hypnotic rendition of the groove-laden album closer O Father O Satan O Sun! Standing completely still on stage while they play that riff, they’ve got the Download crowd in a trance. Slowly the stage fills with thick smoke, into which they seem to disappear. A class act through and through.