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Behemoth’s ‘Shemhamforash’ Isn’t Kid Friendly


At my command / Let the blood ov the infants flood the streets ov Bethelehem!

Most of us in western culture would find sacrificing children distasteful, especially with a certain degree of graphic detail. ‘Shemhamforash’ — off Behemoth‘s Metal Blade offering, ‘Evangelion’ — uses this imagery to great effect, but the theme of the song is more arcane and abstract. “The Shemhamphorasch is an epithet for a 216-letter name of God discovered by medieval kabbalists in the book of Exodus by reading the letters of three verses in a specific order,” vocalist Nergal explains.

“The name is composed of 72 groups of three letters,” he explains “Each of these triplets being the name of an angel or intelligence. … These demons are shadows of the 72 angels of shemhamphorasch. Using their names and sigils, we are able to call on the various demons for various favors.”Whether or not this power or the demons actually exist, the band is not willing to say. “Regardless of our opinions on subjectivity or objectivity of such a phenomenon … certain things do happen,” Nergal admits. “Demons and angels enable us to categorize life experience and to face it more consciously. Our life and art is not about providing you with ideology and persuade different ‘isms.’ It is a battle field for opposite forces, pangs of childbirth whose name will be.”

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