The word “thelema” is an English transliteration of an ancient Greek word for “will,” one that early Christians used to refer to the will of God, humanity, and, on occasion, even the Devil. In the early 20th Century, occultist Aleister Crowley adopted the term in conjunction with his “do what thou wilt” philosophy and used it as the name of his own mystical spiritual system. Such occult allusions meld perfectly with "Thelema.6"’s sound, an album that showcases why Behemoth have risen to become one of the premiere Death Metal bands on the planet. There is a palpable sense of doom emanating from this album, yet one cannot help but grin in amusement at the sheer outlandishness of it. "Thelema.6" was made to be enjoyed, not to scare people (Death Metal bands come off even more silly when they try to be legitimately frightening), and it certainly succeeds in that regard.
This re-release from Peaceville Records might seem like a cash grab (it is), but that doesn’t mean one can’t appreciate how good the album actually is and how fresh it still sounds. The production is as close to perfection as a Metal record can achieve; nothing is muddled or buried in the mix and it avoids the artificiality that can come with such crisp audio. The band’s sonic assault is an unstoppable wave of well-orchestrated violence, both instantly compelling and easy to take giddy pleasure in.
“Vinum Sabbati” employs spoken-word vocals, overlapping them with Nergal’s trademark deathgrowl, creating a particularly ferocious and varied performance. This overlap continues onto the next track, “23 (The Youth Manifesto),” as both tracks begin in spoken tones and gradually give way to more and more aggressive intonations. The final song peaks in a slow, ominous section that provides a crushing climax to the album-proper, before the bonus tracks kick in.
The additional material begins with “Sarcofago,” a song that would have fit perfectly on the album were it not for the heavily filtered vocals, with Nergal sounding like some sort of synthetic demon. The song is a welcome addition to the Behemoth catalogue and it’s a treat to hear it as an addition to the album. The curiously-titled “Hello Space Boy,” on the other hand, with its heavy use of industrial-like synths and clean vocals, sounds as if it was recorded by a completely different band. However, it is an interesting song because of its uniqueness and it makes for another wise inclusion. As a fitting coda, the re-release ends with an updated version of “From the Pagan Vastlands.” While it bears little or no resemblance to the original (found on 1995’s "Sventevith"), with Death Metal influence taking over the Black almost as much as on "Thelema.6"’s original songs, it still reminds the listener where the band has come from and where it would ultimately go.
(Online August 17, 2007)