The Satanist is a slab of blackened death metal that has set the metal world abuzz, with many reviewers citing it as an early contender for album of the year. It's definitely a strong record, with tight performances all around. The vocals come with plenty of intensity, every instrument does its part, and the mix sounds big and full but still leaves room for some light dashes of flavor-enhancing atmospherics without drowning anything out. This last statement is especially true of the late tracks on the album, which is fortunate because it means the band eases off the gas pedal and takes us through some curves just before the album has a chance to start sounding too repetitive. It also means that the album takes the time early on to firmly establish its identity as a straight-forward blackened death metal album before it shakes things up.
One interesting feature of the record is the inclusion of some old-fashioned hard rock guitar solos on the last few tracks. Most of the breaks from the barrage, like choral vocals and bits of gloomy keyboards, are genre standards. The splashes of guitar soloing, though, wouldn't be out of place in a a heavy metal song from 1975. It's the type of touch that helps to set the album apart from the pack.
The whole album blows by in a breezy 44 minutes, and while I enjoyed it all, the final third of its run-time was what actually convinced me that this was better than just "pretty good". I'm not convinced that it's the instant classic some reviewers have claimed it is, but I do think it's a very strong entry in the Behemoth catalog that should please fans and serve as a good introduction for anybody looking to get into the band.