Behemoth Still Play Radical, Extreme Metal. "Take It Or Leave It. Fuck you."

5 October 2018 | 2:21 pm | Brendan Crabb

Adam "Nergal" Darski, frontman of Polish blackened death metal mainstays Behemoth talks to Brendan Crabb about their new record, extreme music needing to be edgy and Slayer's legacy.

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To those outside the heavy music realm, there can be a misconception that metal fans will listen to any old racket. In truth, metallers can be some of the most selective (read: pickiest) music fans on the planet. And if, for instance, established acts cut their hair, slow down the tempos or start singing clean more and screaming less, they often risk incurring the wrath of the black-clad masses.

Poland's Behemoth recently unleashed the gory, incendiary video for God=Dog (from blistering new album, and 11th overall, I Loved You At Your Darkest), reinforcing that the Bible-tearing crew aren't toning down their blasphemous message or aesthetic. “We decided to come out with something very extreme,” vocalist/guitarist Adam "Nergal" Darski enthuses. “We just wanted to go out and make a statement and say, 'Hey, this is Behemoth. We're an extreme metal, radical band – take it or leave it. Fuck you.'”

This aforementioned sentiment of supporters feeling a sense of ownership over their favourite bands can be particularly apparent among oft-insular devotees of more brutal, non-commercial strains of metal. Does Darski feel like fans expect the vehemently anti-Christian element from Behemoth by now? “People are [aware] already that Nergal does what he feels like doing, and they're already educated in that. I'm happy to see that a lot of mentally open people, they're like, 'OK the band is progressing, the band is changing, and so are we.'

“And considering how conservative the majority of the heavy metal community [is]... People fucking bitch about like every change. They feel like they own the right to dictate [to] their artists or musicians they like, about how they should play. No one knows better than the actual musician, the artists themselves. So why are you even making these kinds of comments? If you don't like something, just leave it. I would be happy to see that people are digging the fact that we're just doing whatever the fuck we want. We respect the tradition and our origins, because that's definitely something we never want to change. I mean, not never, but you know... This new record, it's classic Behemoth, trademark Behemoth, and there's something else. And what's this something else? You need to find out when you get the record.”

"I'm happy to see that a lot of mentally open people, they're like, 'OK, the band is progressing, the band is changing, and so are we.'"

Any sniping aside, I Loved You At Your Darkest appears likely to follow the success of its almost universally acclaimed predecessor, 2014's The Satanist. “It feels like already, the way it's [the new album] already been received in the reviews, and we just released a single today, Bartzabel, and the reactions are ecstatic. I'm like, 'Oh, shit.' People are digging the change. It's not like your typical black metal song... I mean, it's still very black metal, it's still very dark and creepy. But there's something else, and people love that vibe.”

Darski has previously remarked to this scribe that he believes extreme metal lacks the “danger factor”, insisting the majority of bands don't exude genuine emotion. In 2018, his view doesn't seem to have shifted. “It's kinda lost its edge, so to say. It could be more edgy, it could be more aggressive and violent. And that's why I love, I just got this promo for the band One Tail, One Head, and to me, what they do sounds pretty fucking dangerous. It's there in the sound... it's awesome. I like it myself when things are kind of unexpected and just out of control.”

He suggests more bands of this ilk need to take chances. “If you're playing like 280bpm on drums, all these crazy tempos, that doesn't necessarily mean that this is extreme. Because if you just play it like constantly for a three or four-minute song, the song becomes dull, it becomes boring and it's no longer extreme to me.”

And it's one of extreme metal's progenitors and most successful exponents, Slayer, that still inspire and set an example for Darski. Behemoth have featured on overseas legs as the thrash legends embark on a victory lap billed as their farewell world tour. This will extend to the Australian Download festival, where the two bands will both feature - on the biggest stages Behemoth have played Down Under.

“I'm 41 now, and usually when people ask me, 'OK, how is it going to feel doing that music when you're 50 or something?' And I say, 'Look at Slayer.' That's exactly where I want to be,” Darski explains. “I feel privileged by the fact that we are sharing the stage with them. And we're happy to be friends with Slayer. They're great people, they're the biggest extreme metal band out there. It feels kind of weird, it feels awkward to be confronting the new era in heavy metal music that will be lacking Slayer. I can imagine a world without Trump, but I can't imagine a world without Slayer. It's weird.”