After albums like ‘Pandemonic Incantations’ or ‘Grom’, Behemoth began to get some recognition…But still, they had some problems with their labels. Now, as they have signed with Italian label Avantgarde, everything seems to be going pretty well for the Poles. And as ‘Satanica’ was for me the major black metal album of the summer, I had to interview Nergal, the brain of this great band . He’s a very nice guy, very interesting, and most of all, this guy can talk …
You just released your new album ‘Satanica’, can you please tell us more about it ? What did inspire you, what about the recording itself ?
First of all, I should say that my main inspiration is life, I can’t say we’re a black metal band inspired by Bathory and shit like that, blablabla. We’re inspired by life, by all its aspects, by great creatures, and it’s great to get inspiration each time in each different aspect, in each different event, with all the people we weet, all the books we read,all the knowledge we learn. And of course, musically, we’re inspired by a lot of stuff, we’re inspired by Mayhem, Morbid Angel, early Slayer and stuff like that. There are hundreds of great bands that have some influence on us, but basically, that’s the way how it is. What really inspire us is life, just this simple one word.
How did you manage to have such a great sound on the album ?
Well (laughs), first you have to now that we recorded three albums before, which didn’t have such a powerful sound, so the way to reach this sound was pretty long, and we’ve been looking for it for eight years, but this is the first time we are really satisfied with the sound. Previously, it was in sixteen tracks, but this time we had a Sixty four tracks, so I would say that’s pretty much. For the first time we used exactly the same drums as Morbid Angel on ‘Formulas Fatal To The Flesh’, so I believe the drums sound really powerful, really heavy and tight. And besides that, for the first time, I used Mesa Boogie amplifiers instead of the normal Marshalls I used to be playing on, and Mesa Boogie have got a much colder and heavier sound, you know. In my opinion, it sounds more professional, and it fits more to the style of black metal we play. What else ? We always produce the albums by ourselves, I was the producer, it was a pretty intense work, it lasted more than twenty days, we tried to work on every detail, and the final result is what you hear. It has definitely a good sound, we follow our way, and the sound is something really important. These days, most of the bands have a really great sound, so if you want to reach the top, you have to be at least as good as them.
And what about the concept ? It seems to be something special…
Well, yes, but I can’t say much about it myself, because I’m not the one who wrote the lyrics of the album. It was my long-time friend Chris, who lives by my side, not far from my place. We kind of grew up together, he’s always been totally devoted to occult, and all its aspects, always trying to know more about it. I remember some long conversations we had together, and he was kind of mental for me. Someone who taught me a lot of things, because he’s older than me, he has made more experiences than me, so that was a kind of a lesson to deal with such a guy. I look after him, because he’s got a lot of knowledge, and I remember that after ‘Pandemonic Incantations’, which I wrote all the lyrics for, I wrote some new lyrics, and I thought they didn’t fit to the new concept of our music. They were more like plans, you had to read them, and not to interpret them, so I decided to quit this idea, and I only wrote the lyrics of ‘Starspawn’, and it speaks about me picturing in the universe, being an unity, and one with what surrounds us. Pretty much paganist and satanist, it just reflects my own ideas and my views on life. The rest of the songs mostly deal with magic, with stuff like Aleister Crowley and some others, the people who are the reason why he wrote these lyrics. What else can I say ? Just read these, and try to understand, because I think they really stimulate your mind. Just make up your mind and try to get some reflection, go really deep into this and understand it. But I think it truly goes along with the music, because it’s complex and sophisticated, with lots of arrangements. It’s not the simplest way of expression, it uses some complex vocabulary, and it took me some time to fully understand it. But that’s up to people…Just read it, and create your own world with your own visions, because each of us has the potential to create his own reality. We just give some keys how to reach this, and it’s up to you to take them or not.
The artwork is something new too. What does the horn you have on your head represent ?
Nothing special you know. (laughs) There’s no special idea behind this, you know. It’s like, for me, it’s just an esthetic. I decided to do something different. If you see our new pictures and artwork, and our old artwork, it’s quite artistic, and wanted to look like that. Because for me, black metal or death metal, whatever you call that, is a three-dimension music, you can hear the music, read the lyrics, see the videos or the concerts, it brings different dimensions, and i’s important to work on every detail of this. I wanted Behemoth to be one complete thing, a unity, and I care pretty much for all the details, it’s important for me to look the right way, and I wanted my covers to have a special atmosphere. But there’s no special meaning behind that horn. Actually, I was inspired by Glenn Danzig, I remember him using it. It’s not a fresh idea, but within the black metal scene, it’s quite original, and I believe it looks really good which reflects us, though there’s no ideology behind it.
On the CD, there are ninety three tracks. Is it a fabrication problem, or has it a special meaning ?
Just…not a joke, because it sounds bad, but just a trick you know. (laughs) We wanted people to say “ hey what’s up ? What the fuck is this ? ” People get confused about it, and it’s something pretty easy afterwards, but it’s something I like. With ‘Pandemonic Incantations’, we put sixty six songs, and we got lots of questions about it. It’s just a kind of cool thing to put on the album.
What about the line-up ? I heard that you’re now the only one left in the band ?
Yes, that’s true. I mean (laughs), I have a new line-up, which I can’t reveal the names right now, because it’s under process, but in September, we’re gonna start rehearsing the live set, and probably write some new songs. The others left the band, because there were some disagreements, they have their own visions of what we did. So, they left the band, it’s not like they were kicked out, they had their own reasons, I had my own reasons, and that’s OK with me right now, because I have new people, it seems like we are starting again.
So, we’ll have the chance to see you on tour pretty soon, then ?
Definitely, there is a tour planned for December, and if everything goes right, Behemoth will be on the bill, and we’ll visit France for sure, because I love your audience.
Really ? I was at your show in Strasbourg, where you recorded the live MCD…
That show was excellent, all the French shows were up the top, really, especially in Strasbourg, Paris and Lyon. Great shows with a great audience, everybody was going crazy about our music, and I was really satisfied. And no problem if we open again, people seem to like our music and appreciate our performances.
How did it go with Deicide, knowing that Glenn can be weird sometimes ?
(laughs) He’s a person, you never know what can happen next, and he does so many strange things, really bizarre sometimes. But I won’t tell you any deatails, because I think it’s wrong to talk behind his back, and I have a big respect for this guy and the music they make. They’re a great band, a killing machine live, and they love it.
You also recorded a Mayhem cover, so please tell us more about it.
One day, Roberto called me and offered me to join this project, the tribute album to Mayhem, and I thought OK ! It’s a nice idea to give our respect to them. I remember I wanted to cover a song from ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, it’s one of my all-time fave albums. But unfortunately, most of the songs were taken by Emperor, Dark Funeral…So I said, “ let’s do ‘Carnage’ ”, because this song is quite unknown, never included on any album, and I wanted to play it in a Behemotish way, and I think we succeeded. Our cover is much more brutal than the original, it’s faster, we called it ‘Carnage, Devastation Mix’, and you’ll just have to judge.
This tribute will be released by Avantgarde, how is going with them ?
Excellent, just excellent ! I think they are the best label for us so far. We were with unprofessional labels before, like in Solistitium, they never paid any royalties. No one really cared for the band before, but now we’re with the right crew, they really go for the bands, they stay for their words, it seems that Behemoth is a priority band for them right now, they put a lot of energy in the band. They do a great promotional job, so we’ll definitely continue with them for the next album, and maybe some more. This is the best choice we have ever made.
Well, last question : the Polish scene seems to be rising with bands like you, Vader, Vim Patior…What do you think ?
Especially Vader, they’re a quality band, with a lot of power, they can challenge the best black/death metal bands. But there’s also Lux Occulta, they just released a great album, there’s Christ Agony, Yattering, they just signed with Season Of Mist, so they’re gonna be on tour with Mayhem…They really kick ass, it’s a mix between Strapping Young Lad, and extreme black/death metal, with grindcore parts. There are more and more bands signed on European labels, so it gives us a chance to prove that Poland is a quality country, with bands able to make good music. I hope it will create some changes.
Would you have one last word for the readers, something special you want to say ?
First of all, I have to thank you for the interview, and I have to thank all the fans. It looks like we are gaining great responses, so, the thanks should be for them ! Just watch for the new album, it should be in the shops right now.It should satisfy the people’s needs, because it’s a piece of brutal and extreme metal music, really honest. I hope that people can realize it, that we’re sincere in what we do, that this is quality music. Maybe it’s not the most original stuff, but so far, I think it’s really really good. So, I’d like you to face Behemoth new incarnation, ‘Satanica’, and watch for our new steps.