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Exclusive! Interview With Behemoth Vocalist/ Guitarist Nergal

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 @ 9:49 AM


Slaves Shall Serve: Vocalist/

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BE•HE•MOTH
Pronunciation: (bi-he'muth, be'u-)—n. any creature or thing of monstrous size or power.

No name could be more precise is summarizing this Extreme Metal monster. More crushing than a tidal wave of concrete and nails, Poland’s Behemoth are a band whose monolithic sound, strength, and talent tower menacingly over the competition. Unrelentingly driven by singer/guitarist/mastermind Nergal’s desire to exhibit the darkened depths of history and exorcise deep currents of anger and aggression, Behemoth unerringly push the limits of known brutal musical excess to desolate terrains where even the most punishing nightmares refuse to tread. Undoubtedly one of the most promising and, more importantly, reliable bands to be pummeling our eardrums these days, Nergal is determined to keep this hulking beast growing and moving with every tremor-inducing step, with a ravenous and unblinking eye constantly on the jugular of musical dominance. Where the Behemoth lumbers devastation will surely follow.

KNAC.COM: Some of the most brutal and technical metal has been coming out of Poland -- Behemoth, Decapitated, Vader, Yattering – do you think there is a common motivator for that?
NERGAL: I don’t really know… Poland has always been into making Extreme Metal -- especially Death Metal; there are very few Black Metal or Thrash Metal bands. It’s tradition. I don’t know what’s the reason for this. I can say for myself, when it comes to Behemoth, it’s just because of the passion of the music -- that’s why we want to play that style.

KNAC.COM: How did you come to know [drummer] Inferno?
NERGAL: I met him… he played in a band called Damnation, and I just met the guy and we shared the same interests. When Baal was asked to leave Behemoth, Inferno filled in, and that’s how it happened.

KNAC.COM: Great find -- he’s one of the best drummers in metal! What is it that drives Behemoth -- is there something you want to share with the fans, or is it a matter of self-expression?
NERGAL: It’s a bit of everything. I feel the anger and all these extreme emotions is the driving force for us to be making this kind of music. And I think it’s for us being a band from Eastern Europe, there’s also like an extra motivation to show off, to show that we can make something worth checking out, you know -- good music, quality music. And I think that’s something we’ve already achieved. These days people don’t really see Behemoth as part of some Eastern European sound or something, they just equal us as… you know, name any good band and the name Behemoth will go along and they will just fit together. That’s what we really wanted, that’s what our goal was. I didn’t really want us to be labeled as a Polish Death Metal band because that puts us in this category and I think we’re pretty much different from any bands from our country.

KNAC.COM: What was your mindset coming in to record Demigod? Did you have anything specific in mind?
NERGAL: Yeah, we wanted this record to be faster and more furious. Zos Kia… was kind of mellow when it comes to moods, it was groovy with lots of slow parts. So with this new album we just wanted to have this faster sound, more tight. And I think that’s what we definitely achieved. Definitely. I think this is very much the best record. [Smiles] I don’t think anybody could really argue about that. It has huge production, the best production. We wanted to do like a huge step with the production to do something very deep and wide with a certain heaviness and faster songs.

KNAC.COM: Are there any themes with the songs?
NERGAL: Oh yeah, always, always. I think we’ve got this Eastern touch, or Middle East touch; we’ve got this ancient kind of thing going on here. I’ve explored this stuff for years, I’ve been dealing with these kind of things, you know… I’m educated as a historian, I finished at the University in Glasgow. So that’s probably one of the things that inspired me to write about that stuff. But we are really not about history, you know what I mean? We’re just using some kind of different forms to express our inner strength. These feelings in us, we just want to express them and ancient themes are the best-just perfect for this kind of expression.

KNAC.COM: You’ve kind of answered this already, but it’s always seemed your goal with each album to make it the best you’ve ever done…
NERGAL: Yeah, yeah.

KNAC.COM: You definitely feel that with Demigod?
NERGAL: Oh yeah, oh yeah. More than ever I guess.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever think you might come to a point where that stops?
NERGAL: Yeah, well I have always this kind of feeling like, you know -- we do this touring for the album and then we get some more experience here and there, we learn more of the guitars, and then we realize, “Well, we can do it better” and that’s probably what makes us go back in the studio and do stuff again and again.

KNAC.COM: There’s some excellent use of acoustic guitars on this album, and it seems you’ve used them a bit more…
NERGAL: Yeah, it’s just improvement, I’m getting better and I think it’s just the perfect touch.

KNAC.COM: Will you continue with that more?
NERGAL: Well, we like using it, I think it fits the music -- it fits this ancient atmosphere of the album.

KNAC.COM: Looking back at the 15-year old Nergal and the Black Metal birth of Behemoth, do you think he would be surprised with the sound now?
NERGAL: Oh yeah! [Laughs] Oh yeah. When I formed the band I wasn’t really conscious of what I was doing; I was just a kid who wanted to play the music he loved. And these days I’m more conscious of what I’m doing. I’m perfectly aware of the place where I am now, so it’s much easier to deal with things. Of course when I was a kid it was a big question mark; I just wanted to play music. I never really went too far in my plans for life, you know, I just wanted to play some songs and record them eventually, and if there was somebody who’d like to put it out then it was excellent. And then we released a demo tape which was really very successful for us, and it just developed from this to the second album and… yeah, that’s how it came to the point where we are now.

KNAC.COM: It just kinda carried you.
NERGAL: Well you can never plan this, you know, you just have to believe in yourself and do what you love, that’s how it works.

KNAC.COM: You have a friend Kristoffer who wrote some lyrics for Zos Kia…, did he do that again this time?
NERGAL: Yeah, he wrote four songs for the album. He’s a highly advanced magician, I would say; he’s a member of Ordo Templi Orientis and they explore different magical topics. He’s just a highly intelligent guy; he’s got a huge knowledge of all the things we write about. He’s kind of inspiration to me to write about history.

KNAC.COM: You’ve got some heavy duty touring -- you’re coming right back with Nile and King Diamond…
NERGAL: Yeah, we will be coming back this fall, too. We really wanna tour hard and Century Media is backing us, so…

KNAC.COM: You’re gonna hit the US hard.
NERGAL: Oh yeah, oh yeah. We have really high hopes here, and this album already so far is doing like twice as good as Zos Kia…, which means that we’ll definitely double sales, which is good because it means that we might get a lot better spots. We’ll get better offers and this means we’ll be able to do a better show and hopefully in the future record better albums.

KNAC.COM: So since Century Media has been doing so much better they’ve been able to better support you guys.
NERGAL: Oh yeah, for some reason they push our band so hard. There’s so many great bands -- better bands -- on the label and somehow they believe in Behemoth. I don’t know why, I’m very fortunate that we can do what we are doing and have such a supportive and strong label behind our back. I just can’t be happier -- we are really happy with the place we are at right now.

KNAC.COM: If you could pick one Behemoth song that best epitomizes what the band is about, what would it be?
NERGAL: I don’t know, because we’ve got so many different feelings and different songs. I really don’t know… our set consists of songs that are kind of essential for our career , we just go for highlights: “Decade Of Oepion” from Satanica, “Chant For Eschaton” from the same album; from the new album, “Slaves Shall Serve” is a fucking excellent song, “Conquer All” is fuckin’…you know, it’s BEHEMOTH full on.

KNAC.COM: Are there any bands out there still at it that inspired you when you were younger?
NERGAL: I would say that Morbid Angel is probably the top for us, and Slayer is one of the best bands around. I just heard this band Necrophagist and we were like, “Fuck, we are no one compared to them!” [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Alright, well, thanks for your time and good luck.
NERGAL: Thanks!


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