At present, things are going very, very well for Behemoth, the Polish-bred band of extreme-metal demigods. Not so long ago, a cloud of uncertainty loomed over these titans when mastermind and frontman Adam "Nergal" Darski was sidelined by leukemia.
However, not only did Nergal recover, the band returned with its most ambitious musical statement to date: The Satanist, a universally acclaimed triumph for the group that further reinforces its staunch refusal to be pushed into the servitude of a specific metal subgenre, and an album that may truly be its magnum opus.
Nergal, long a pillar of iconoclasm, has become quite the icon himself in recent years. Following his cancer treatment, the outspoken Satanist was a coach on the Polish version of The Voice, recently opened a barbershop in Warsaw, and helped put together a pair of books -- his own biography and a Behemoth-specific collection of interviews and photographs -- slated for simultaneous release.
We caught up with the unbelievably busy musician to discuss the band's successes, the possibility of an impending solo project, and the potential end of Behemoth.
New Times: It seems like most of the shows the band has played in the States on this run have sold out! Would you say Behemoth's popularity has reached a new peak in North America at this point?
Nergal: Oh yeah! Definitely. Definitely. It's been the biggest it's been so far -- there's no question about it. It's the peak of our career, really.
You're extremely articulate in your explanations of Satanism to the uninitiated and have always been a real proponent of the intellectual nature of it. Do you see yourself as a spokesperson in a way, and do you get tired of fielding questions on the subject?
It all depends on the day, the mood, the interviewer, and how he or she approaches it, you know? When I take the typical kinds of stupid questions about Satanism, it's not very inspirational to discuss it, but when you push the right button, I can just go on forever. It's a very difficult subject, and it's never easy to talk about. It's not every day that I'm allowed to elaborate on these things in a way that makes me feel like I'm truly understood in what I'm trying to say.
In a recent interview, you alluded that The Satanist may potentially be the final statement for Behemoth. Would you care to expand upon that at all?
Well, like anything, I think the future is good with thrills and... options. I'm not really counting on my future further than the touring cycle goes these days. That's really it. We're going to surprise people with some amazing projects in the coming months, but there's no new record in sight, to be honest. I don't know even when or where we'll start working on it -- it's in the last position on my list of priorities.
I believe The Satanist is a true zenith album for what Behemoth does, and I took the statement to mean that you potentially saw it as an appropriate place to lay things down, as there might not be anywhere else to go within the context of this band.
I think The Satanist gave us a foundation to go pretty much anywhere. It's a very universal record, I'd say. We could go a little more rock-oriented, or we could go even more extreme. We have a lot of options that we can allow to develop, but it's just way too soon to talk about it now.
Do you see yourself making a solo statement entirely your own in the future?
I'm actually working on a project now, but I don't want to let much out about it yet. I'm always creating. I always do stuff on the side, and some of it's not suitable for Behemoth, and I've got some other projects that will eventually see the light of day. Or not. Nothing is for certain! [laughs]
Without giving too much away, would you be willing to tell us a little of what we might expect from a Nergal solo project?
Very stripped down and simple. The most primitive, acoustic-based stuff. That's what I'm really into.
It's still a little mind-boggling for fans in the US that you were involved with the Polish version of The Voice while you were recovering. Do you still have to contend with much kickback from fans for doing that personally?
No, not really. There's always critics and there's always people bashing you for no reason, but I just listened to myself and my closest friends and it means nothing to me. People will always talk, but I always go with what I feel is right for me at the time. And I felt that it was the right time and the right thing and I'm happy with it. I felt like it was a great project.
Behemoth. With Cannibal Corpse, Aeon, and Tribulation. 6 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $28.50 plus fees. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.
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