Behemoth's Nergal

In honour of Poland's prodigal metal sons Behemoth releasing their new album entitled The Satanist on February 3rd, and its debut at number 34 on the Billboard top 200 (a feat that seems frankly insane for any metal band), we're going back to the days of yore to retrieve an interview with the band's lead singer, Nergal. The interview took place at Foufounes Électriques on October 30, 2003 for the show No Sleep 'Til Bedtime (hosted by former CJLO station manager/metal director David Caporicci-Urovitch and former CJLO program director Alex Rabot), and appeared on theold  CJLO metal site "Sulfur & Brimstone" the following month.

Behemoth's Nergal

Last week the CJLO metal crew had an incredible opportunity to see quite the metal show here in Montreal. This was the Unnatural Born Killers tour, featuring the likes of As I Lay Dying, Skinless, Six Feet Under, and the mighty Behemoth! While only being an opening band for Skinless and Six Feet Under, Behemoth was the biggest draw of the night, with fans going insane in a maelstrom of intense metal. Shortly after their stellar set, Alex and myself got to spend some time with Nergal and find out what's going on in the Behemoth camp. We congratulated him on an incredible show, and found out about the upcoming band changes before the next album will be recorded. We also learned about the Behemoth box set, Historica, put out by their former label—sadly, the band had no control over the release of the box set, nor did they get a penny from it. Bad label troubles aside, Nergal said he is more than pleased with their current label Olympic, part of Century Media family, alongside other bands like Immolation, Vital Remains, and Diabolic. Behemoth's up-coming album and their awesome new EP, Conjuration (which features 40 minutes of covers, live songs, and a brand new track from the Zos Kia Cultus sessions) were also topics of discussion.

Below is our interview with Behemoth, which took place shortly after their show in Montreal, a performance that Nergal has already said "was absolutely the highlight of this tour." We pick up this interview just as Nergal is explaining the creative process of making music.

Nergal: Music can be... music has to come from the heart.

Alex: Right...

So you have to feel like playing, and creating music. You can't force yourself to do this or that, so... (Trails off)

And you're saying there's definitely gonna be another album soon... is it going to be recorded right away, as soon as you get off the tour?

We've got some stuff started now, we have the tour until late December, then we go back home, take a rest from each other about 2 or 3 weeks, then we have the new line-up... we have to complete it, because [guitarist] Havoc's leaving the band soon, and we have to find a new guitarist, which we are doing now.

So then there's going to be an audition process?

Kind of, we might just have a session member for this [the new record], we have a permanent bassist right now, but he couldn't come over [to North America] because of some visa problems... well, not problems, but we didn't have time to fix a visa for him. But anyways, we have a new line-up, we're working on new songs, we have a new deal signed with Century Media here, and in Europe, and a new Polish deal.

Do you guys record on the road at all, or...?

No, no, I prefer to focus only on this, you know, I'm doing shows. When I get home, I focus on writing. But, there as SOME exemptions, we did one really cool riff, when rehearsing in Tampa with our bassist for this tour.


We just came up with this really cool riff in Tampa, so we just call this 'Tampa Song' now. (Laughs) Occasionally I write riffs here and there, but I write mostly at home.

Then, how do you spend your free time on tour?

Waiting! (Laughs) Touring is about waiting! Waiting all the time, and getting bored! (Laughs) Nah, it's cool, when we're driving we're watching movies or listening to music, the same old bullshit.

What do you guys listen to?

Each of us is different, we all like different stuff...

I often hear in interviews that metal heads don't listen to a lot of metal...

We listen to metal...


Ninety percent metal. We are metal to the core. (Laughs) I'm pretty much into everything...

You mentioned Danzig before.

Today I was sitting in a cafe, close to the venue, listening to this new Madonna song, which is cool as well. If something's good, it's good, you know what I mean? That's how I categorize music

So it's not about being extreme, it's about creative, or...?

I mean... extremity, for me... I mean, Nine Inch Nails is extreme. Everyone's idea of extreme is different. For me, different bands might be extreme, but not necessarily for you. Good music is something I can relate to, or pick something interesting, to myself, out of... that's what cool, good music is. Everything from Morbid Angel, which I totally adore, to... Johnny Cash, which I like as well.

Ok. Is there a new, up-and-coming band, that you see as being a future "star", from Poland or wherever, that's come out in the last little while?

There's a few... in Poland there's some really good bands like Vasania. That's a great band, they just put out one record, it's a really good record. I'm not sure if they can be heard in North America, sometimes it takes a while to get an album out here! I'm not sure they're signed.

There's lots of stuff I like, things I listen to... it's hard to say.

OK, fair enough... I'd like to discuss Behemoth's philosophy for a second. You obviously put a lot of work into lyrics...

Well, it's hard to explain, I mean...

In the liner notes, though, you do try... Is Behemoth trying to teach people things, or...?

No, no, what I'm trying to do is help people make up their minds [for themselves]. I will never say "Do this!" or "Hate Christians!", because you must always do what you WANT to do, you know what I mean?

Then doing as you want is the message...

What we want to teach people is to think for themselves, keep your eyes open, never be narrow-minded and just to SEARCH, all the time, search. That's what Behemoth is all about. Not giving answers.


How to search for answers. Simple as that.

You collaborate with [Krzystof Azarewicz] on your lyrics...


What is the your relationships with him?

Just an old friend. We've known each other for years. His knowledge is greater than mine, in the occult, and we kind of influence each other, and he just fits the band so well. He understands the overall philosophy. He created it, somehow. [Now] I can't imagine the band without him. It's cool, he does half of the stuff, I do my half.

There's, sometimes, a lot of historical or ancient, themes of mysticism that you dig into...

We deal with everything. People ask "What are your lyrics about?", and they're about everything, about life. I know this answer means nothing, but we can't give everything away, we try to stimulate your mind! (Claps hands together) I'm not saying you HAVE to understand all our lyrics, all the translations, the greek, the latin, and whatever languages and [historical] names... It's all about creating mood, and making atmosphere, and stimulating people's minds. That's what we're all about.

When you listen to Rammstein, you don't necessarily need to understand what he sings about, because you KNOW what he sings about, it's in the music, their language of sound and voice, and everything. It's not about reading, but understanding...

So then the live show plays a big role, obviously...

Yeah! We are a live beast. (Laughs) We love it.

To spread the word?

To spread good music! To meet people, to get better, to improve. It's very challenging for us, it feels great. I like being on tour.

And you want to push yourself.

Definitely. I'm one of the most demanding guys I know, so I can never stop. That's THE truth behind this band.

Alright, I have only a few things left to ask you... When this tour ends, you're not planning on heading back out, you're gonna focus on new...

No. We got offers. We got offers to do a Russian, tour, I just got offered today to go to Greece but we have no time. We will do one show in Israel, because we've postponed this for so long, so many times, that I think if we don't do it now, we'll never do it. So we're gonna [go] back home, and concentrate on writing new stuff, and just take a few days off, fly over to Israel, and come right back. (Snaps fingers)

Ok, so next year we can expect a new album, and you hinted at a second release?

We might do an official DVD, of live stuff and backstage, parties and the most crazy stuff you can imagine.

Do you guys have any videos for songs?

We've got a couple of videos, one from the last album, for 'As Above So Below', which will be on it [the DVD], but there's so much stuff, better stuff, to put on the DVD too.

The more spontaneous things...

Yes. Occasionally we do some crazy stuff, so I hope to put some of this on. You'll see. You never know. Still, the most important thing is the next album...


That's the working title of the next album.

Should we expect any differences?

We've created our style, so far, people know what we sound like.

But none of your albums sound the same...

Well, there's always new things, but you can see the line, the music, the cover artwork, and photos, and everything. We develop, but you can see it's the same band. The same drumming... only better. Same vocals... more developed. And better guitar.

So it'll be another continuation.

For sure, with a some surprises. I think it's gonna be the most intense and varied record we've come up with... we'll see! It's hard to tell until it's done. It's going to be high quality music!

Cool. I'm sure you can top yourselves again...

Thank you!