The live music industry was hit hard by the pandemic, with tours having to be postponed or canceled. In this difficult time, artists have been navigating through the situation by live streaming shows wherein the audience can watch the show online from the comfort of their homes by purchasing a ticket for the event. Following the trend, black metal giants BEHEMOTH have gone above and beyond with their two-hour-long immersive live-streamed performance, In Absentia Dei.
In Absentia Dei was performed and live-streamed from an abandoned church in Poland where the music video for ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ was shot years ago. The entire show was filmed in 4K with incredible lighting and pyrotechnics among several other visually captivating elements for an absolutely mind-blowing experience.
The performance started with a free pre-show which featured interviews with BEHEMOTH’s band members and some footage of the venue, which is a former Evangelical church that stopped being in service over 100 years ago. The interviews and behind the scenes footage were followed by a smashing set by Brooklyn-based metallers, Imperial Triumphant live-streamed from The Slipper Room in New York City. Personally, this was the first time I was listening to the band. That being said, their performance was nothing short of gripping. Big ups to BEHEMOTH to introduce me (among others, I believe) to this brilliant band. The short but visually and auditorily engaging half-hour set was just setting the scene for what was about to come.
Sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee is definitely not how I pictured my second experience of watching BEHEMOTH to be. The theatrical extravaganza, split into four parts, is the first time BEHEMOTH has played that many songs at a single show. After a wait of about 20 minutes post the pre-show, Act I kicked off with images of the band members, masked and riding horses towards the church which was in flames. The live debut of ‘Evoe’, from the band’s latest offering, A Forest is how they started their performance. Act I also saw them play ‘Prometherion’ and ‘From the Pagan Vastlands’ for the first time since 2011 and 2009, respectively. There was a little bit of a technical setback towards the end of Act I wherein the footage was pausing and stalling. However, this was resolved promptly as the show proceeded.
Act II started off with visuals of a masked figure circling a lantern and almost joining the band for a dance as they played ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’. Each Act was preceded by thoughtfully curated theatrics executed to perfection, which made the performance all the more riveting. The band went into Act III with visuals of a woman, pierced with hooks, and then suspended from the ceilings of the ancient church. The image of the performer suspended as if she were on a crucifix and swinging throughout the performance of ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ was the visual peak of In Absentia Dei for me (and many others for sure).
Pyrotechnics is nothing new in a BEHEMOTH show. However, the location combined with the use of fire and flames just made the whole performance more artistic and beastly at the same time. The images of flames surrounding a blood-soaked Nergal while the band played ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’ was just the perfect ending for the show.
BEHEMOTH kept the energy high throughout the show, which (I guess) is not an easy feat to achieve when playing without an audience. The band delivered an absolutely wholesome performance with great sound, theatrics, and visuals that were creative and stayed 100 percent true to the band’s music and beliefs. The show was a good reminder of how BEHEMOTH is truly one of the best live acts around in terms of putting on a great show by bringing together extreme metal music and artistic valor.
As much as I miss going for traditional shows and festivals, live streaming shows is something I could get used to, especially if bands can pack a punch as BEHEMOTH did with In Absentia Dei.
In Absentia Dei Setlist:
Evoe (Live debut)
Wolves ov Siberia
From the Pagan Vastlands
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Ov Fire and the Void
Chwała mordercom Wojciecha
As Above So Below
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
Sculpting the Throne ov Seth
Decade of Therion
O Father O Satan O Sun!