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"That's how Satan wins" - An interview with Nergal of Behemoth

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Andrew Epstein conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Adam "Nergal" Darski of Polish extreme metallers BEHEMOTH on April 23 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. You can now watch the chat below.

Speaking about BEHEMOTH's place in the modern extreme metal scene, Nergal said: "Today's extreme metal scene is all about making a lot of noise and just playing millions of riffs within one song, and I don't really see the point in doing that. You know what I mean? To me, it's masturbation, it's dull, it's boring, it's flat at the end of the day. When you listen to those kinds of records, it doesn't [do anything for] me at all. I grew up listening to extreme metal bands like SLAYER, even BLASPHEMY, the most extreme bands… or MAYHEM… They would still make songs, you know what I mean? There was a place for a chorus, a place for verses, a lead… And we keep that formula going. Even though our music is different, we are in a different place, we still compose songs, and that's what people dig after all. I mean, the things that have hooks and that are memorable, I'm not doing this to attract people, I'm doing it to attract myself, because I grew up that way, I was raised with that kind of music, and I appreciate it in other bands, so I definitely wanna do it the same in BEHEMOTH."

BEHEMOTH's new album, "The Satanist", sold around 10,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 34 on The Billboard 200 chart.

The band's ninth full-length studio CD, 2009's "Evangelion", opened with around 8,500 units to land at No. 56.

"The Satanist" was released on February 3 in the U.K., February 4 in North America and Poland, February 5 in Japan, and February 7 in the rest of the world.

"The Satanist" deluxe box, which is available in North America as an European import, includes: CD/DVD digibook in silver mirror slipcase with a high-quality 44-page booklet (with gold foil, UV gloss lamination), supersize poster flag (approx. 3.5' x 5'), wooden black inverted rosary cross, metal pin, black envelope with black communion wafers. The DVD, "Live Barbarossa", includes a professionally filmed show in Ekaterinburg, Russia, as well as 30-minute documentary about the creative process behind "The Satanist".

"The Satanist" was produced by BEHEMOTH, Wojtek and Slawek Wieslawscy and Daniel Bergstrand at Hertz Studio. The CD was mixed by Matt Hyde (SLAYER) and mastered by Ted Jensen (METALLICA, AC/DC) at Sterling Sound in New York City. The cover art for "The Satanist" was painted by renowned Russian painter and occultist Denis Forkas. The paint used included some of Nergal's own blood. Additional art and design was completed by Metastazis (PARADISE LOST) and Zbigniew Bielak (WATAIN, GHOST).


The last time I spoke with frontman Nergal from Poland's Behemoth in 2009, he told me that he wasn't very popular in his home country. Unlike many of its neighbours, and despite producing some of the genre's best bands, extreme metal music doesn't seem as popular in Poland. Looking at an old appearance from a Polish chat show, Nergal seems at odds with mainstream culture, no matter how hard they try to understand him.

But since then Nergal's profile at home has exploded. Many have attributed this rush of interest to his relationship with pop-star Doda and his brief involvement with the Polish version of the TV talent-show "The Voice". This seemed a bit absurd to me, as Behemoth's music at its most accessible is undeniably extreme and utterly indigestible to a pop audience.

At the same time it hasn't always been easy. Nergal was twice brought up on charges of insulting the Roman Catholic Church for tearing up a bible on-stage, a crime with a maximum two-year sentence. As well Behemoth was put on hold in 2010 when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

So it was with all this in mind that I sat down with Nergal before his Toronto headlining set on the Metal Alliance tour to talk about his increased profile at home, and the unique circumstances both bad and good that have made Behemoth one of the world's most well-known and consistent extreme acts.

Andrew Epstein

Shot and edited by Aaron Mandel

UPDATE 05/26/14: Not long after the release of this interview, the band found themselves in trouble on their "Russian Satanist Tour". They attracted attention from conservative Christian groups with some dates being cancelled. Apparently things did get physical at some stops. Finally in the city of Yekaterinburg, the band was detained for not having the correct visa.

Seven members of band and crew spent a night in a narrow cell with feces smeared on the walls and were forced to urinate in bottles. The next day they were deported back to Poland. In the end, they were only able to play four of the thirteen Russian dates they had scheduled.


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