Metal & Mike: Black Metal Art With BEHEMOTH

Photo credit: Grzegorz Gołębiowski

Behemoth are not only one of the biggest bands of our time, but also one of the most blasphemous. Their 2014 LP, The Satanist, is a grandiose testament of black metal; incorporating savage compositions alongside annihilating vocals and chilling lyricism, The Satanist is remarkable in all its unholy glory. That said, to follow up such an achievement should’ve been challenging; but regarding Behemoth’s newest record: It delivers some of the band’s most interesting work.

I Loved You At Your Darkest (released today via Metal Blade Records) is a fascinating gem from Behemoth. Given the all-out beat down of instrumentation that was The Satanist, I Loved You At Your Darkest offers a blend of black metal that meets rock and roll. The record’s instrumentation exudes ominous theatricality, with the lyrics presenting a collection of philosophical exploration.

At the core of this work is none other than the Behemoth mastermind himself, Nergal. The vocalist/guitarist has had one hell of an artistic journey; from making black metal, writing a book, and even making folk music, Nergal is an unstoppable force of magic and talent.

Before even diving into the music the record sets up a sense of mystery given its title; for those who aren’t aware, “I Loved You At Your Darkest” is a direct quote from Jesus Christ. Regarding his interpretation of the line, Nergal shares, “You surely know Rolling Stone’s ‘Sympathy For The Devil‘ album title, don’t you? Just to make [a] long story short, that’s exactly how I interpret ‘ILYAYD‘ (I Loved You At Your Darkest). And the fact that those words came from a supposed messiah makes the whole thing even more twisted and disturbing! This leads to another question: What if Jesus was a double agent? And if he was, who [did] he worked for? This question [is] gonna remain unanswered.”

Nergal’s lyrics have always been at the opposition of religion; growing up in Poland, he found himself in a country that enforced strict religious ruling, presenting an oppressive means of living. Throughout Behemoth‘s music, Nergal has continuously gone after religion, using his art to critique humanity and its belief systems. Speaking further as to why he writes about religion, he shares, “Well… I’m still fascinated by its influence on humans. On [the] majority of them for sure. I hope I’m a good observer, and that’s what makes me stand in opposition to ANY monotheistic religion. Keep in mind I was born in Poland, a VERY Catholic and conservative country. There’s no separation between church and a state here; this makes us as a country regress. Quoting Dave Gahan, ‘We [are] going back to the cavemen reality,’ and I blame religion as the main reason for that.”

In I Loved You At Your Darkest, Nergal approaches the topic of religion on a more intimate level; rather than use cheap-goading, his words are meant to convey a deeper philosophical understanding. Regarding this approach, he says, “[I Loved You At Your Darkest is a] rather complex and multi-dimensional record. The album title kinda determines what’s happening in there; the complexity of it, the multi-layered meaning and so on. The main leitmotivs we are exploring on this album are the ones who’ve always accompanied us on every record, to be honest. I’ve always been attracted [to] all [types of] outcast beings [and] stigmatized archetypes that reflect the darkness of human nature. I’m exercising my demons; I’m making friends with them… trying to embrace the abyss within myself.”

Behemoth has a lot more for fans beyond the lyricism, however; from the moment the record kicks off, listeners will come to find that the band has built upon their signature style. While the music goes flies forth with ferocious black metal speed, each rhythm and melody fluctuates, providing an exciting rock and roll vibe. This shift was intentional for the band, and as Nergal puts it, a desire to push their sound and try something different. “I just don’t want my own music to be dull and repetitive. I love my cave, and I love rock and roll. And I keep my head open to whatever comes from our universe.” Beyond exploring his interests and opening himself up to the universe, he also mentions his desire to broaden the potential of the music. “And on top of [that], you’ll [find] my attitude — fearless exploration of yet unknown grounds for this genre [black metal]… here we go with an answer!”

Nergal sees I Loved You At Your Darkest as a journey down a new path; the record offers the chance for him to explore more of his creativity and what he is capable of making in art. “[The record is] a new beginning. It’s [our] 11th album that still brings sooo [sic] much fresh air to our niche. On one hand, it’s deeply rooted in our characteristic style, yet it’s very adventurous. Exploring yet unknown grounds, beats, [and] flavors keep this music very fresh for us.”

This record marks an immense turn for Behemoth; after all their years of delivering black metal brutality to the masses, they continue to prove they have more to offer. I Loved You At Your Darkest gives fans a Behemoth they will at once recognize, but who have also brought new and refreshing elements to their work. Nergal is moved by art and inspired to create; as an artist, he is excited to keep growing and exploring what life has to offer him. Speaking to his drive and inspiration, Nergals shares, “I’d say that curiosity is what drives me through life in its EVERY aspect if you ask me. I’m always attracted by the unknown. I will never be happy with the same set of answers that will spoil myself and make me lazy. I’m determined by questions, [by] an endless contestation of paradigms, rules, and laws… it’s VERY inspiring [and] motivating.”

You can order I Loved You At Your Darkest via the Metal Blade Records website. You can listen to the track “Wolves ov Siberia” below as well. You can find past Metal & Mike articles here, and you can follow me via Twitter.



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