Summon The Antichrist – An Interview with Nergal of Behemoth

behemoth Adam “Nergal” Darski is certainly an outspoken and often controversial figure, yet one thing that goes unnoticed about the front man of Poland’s most extreme band is his humanity and courage. Following the success of the band’s 2009 opus Evangelion Darski was diagnosed with Leukemia, yet following a successful bone marrow transplant and a few months of recovery Nergal was back on the road. Yet, his struggles where far from over, dogged by the ongoing court case concerning charges of “causing religious offence” it seems there were many distractions which delayed work on Behemoth’s tenth album The Satanist. Senior Editor Ross Baker Ghost Cult caught up with Darski to discuss his health, celebrity status in his homeland, court cases and the band’s bold new album.

On the phone from his home town of Gdansk where he has been undergoing his routine check up and blood tests to ensure his cancer doesn’t attempt a comeback it seemed pertinent to inquire as to Darski’s health at this time. “I’ve just been for some routine checks and test at the hospital and I am happy to announce I am very much alive and well! The fact that I am healthy and I have the deadliest weapon that Behemoth has ever created in my hands makes my life complete. I definitely feel life has more meaning that it did before. I don’t spend my time over analysing things the way I used to. Life seems to be more joyful these days and I know it sounds like a cliché from a James Bond movie but tomorrow is a question mark and we need to embrace today.”

 

It is this “never give up” spirit which has driven Nergal throughout his professional life. Unafraid to embrace new challenges it is little wonder the thirty-six year old is already the subject of an autobiography. “The English translation started a month ago and I will see them by February, but it won’t arrive till the fall of 2014. All I ask is that people stay patient because it will be worth the wait.”

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The Satanist is indeed a bold statement, which retains all the hallmarks of the Behemoth sound while introducing some bold new elements. In particular, the track ‘The Absence Ov Light’ features a saxophone and acoustic guitar. “The middle section was written spontaneously. The other parts are very radical and extreme and I wanted to add something different to make it epic. I added this quotation from Witold Gombrowicz, one of Poland’s greatest writers, who was persecuted for criticising Polish society during his life, but never compromised for anyone. It is a very personal song to me, which is hard to describe. It is about my interaction with the universe.”

 

The quote from Gombrowicz play “Ślub” (The Marriage in English) is certainly very powerful. What begins as a critique of religion soon becomes a plea for companionship “Give me a man, let him be like me… Confused and immature, dark and unclear…That I could dance with him, play with him, fight with him,” Nergal’s narration in his native tongue becomes even more powerful when he explains the meaning behind it. “The quotation refers to a human being who is very lonely and fed up of God and religion and just craves the comfort of other human beings. It sounds very desperate and emotional and I love this work. I have to confess I listened to this song a few days ago and I had tears in my eyes. It is a very moving quote and it cuts me to my core.”

It is this raw emotion and very human nature that makes The Satanist a bold foray into new territory for Nergal and co. “Extreme art should be shocking and provoke a reaction. I really hope we are viewed as more than just a Black Metal band. We are an extreme band that can communicate our ideas on so many levels. Extreme Metal music these days is often only extreme by definition. It is a never-ending process of striving for perfection. Too many bands are chasing this and the scene is becoming like the X-Factor for Black Metal. There is no danger and unpredictability anymore. The majority of Death Metal bands from the U.S.A are so generic, they all sound perfect. It is fast and technical but there is no substance. Bands forget about emotion when they strive for perfection. You should be driven by your intuition and not just be concerned with shredding on your guitar. Perfection is boring and uninspiring. When people listen to The Satanist, it will stimulate them in many different ways. I saw Cabaret at the theatre recently and it was extremely moving. Extreme art must make people uncomfortable whether it is music, art or films. It has to be thought provoking. It takes a lot of energy for me to do this. I remember after my transplant when we started playing shows again. There was a time I thought I was going to pass out on-stage because it was so taxing playing the show and I did not have as much energy as before but now I am ready. I know I can give my all to this.”

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Ross Baker

Read the full interview in Issue #15 of Ghost Cult, coming this week!