BEHEMOTH At the Left Hand ov God

This is an interview done with Behemoth’s mastermind Nergal done in few days after the release of their latest masterpiece “The Apostasy”. Since then, a lot of things happened for Behemoth. “The Apostasy” became their most successful album, they toured the globe over and as a result of years of their hard work they signed the contract with world’s biggest Metal label Nuclear Blast. Let’s see what Nergal had to say back then…

You’ll go onto the Ozzfest tour, how did it happened?
We been working on that pole for four years now, and we found out that the guy who keeps the small stage is a huge Behemoth fan. I’ve remember we’ve played in L.A, and he just came up, he buy a T-shirt, and cd, and he turned out to be the great fan you know. And it started from that, you know…We just saw there was a chance maybe to get us on Ozzfest, as “Century Media” was totally breaking up with us. And then things started to moving faster as we got our new manager in U.S, and this guy made it a pretty much good deal for us. I was in studio, mixing the record with Daniel, and then I got phone call from new manager. I’ve couldn’t been happier. We gonna be the part of one of the biggest, most prestigious tours worldwide. And yes it’s a great payoff for all of these years hardworking and all, ye kno’…

Are you thrilled about playing in front of such a huge audience?
Man! Totally! I just can’t wait to go there. I know I’m gonna play my fastest songs, I’m gonna spit blood into their faces, and they gonna be like “what a fuck is going on now!” you know what I mean! What is cool about it, is that I’m aware of the fact that the most of those kids, 90% or more, haven’t heard for Behemoth. I just can’t wait, it’s gonna be a truly experience.

Besides Ozzfest, have you plans for any other gigs in a meanwhile?
Yes! We gonna have a lots of dates, and during Ozzfest. I can say that we are pretty much booked ‘till end of this year. Just this year, we’re doing 200 shows. We are hard workers man! We wanna go to every fuckin’ corner of this world, to make sure that every kid have a copy of “The Apostasy”, and that he gonna worship that record. That’s why we work so hard!

Where do you find such a energy to tour almost every day?
First of all, I’m pretty intense as person, I can’t just sittin’ around, I must move on every fuckin’ time, you know! There’s no laidback atmosphere whatsoever. We have our reasons to work hard.

How did you recorded “The Apostasy”, was it hard to work on it, and how much production costed?
It was the most expensive work ever man! And it was the biggest effort we had to put into this record. We spend like… four months all-together of tracking down, mixing and mastering the record. So, it’s been longer than “Demigod”, and it costs us more, and we gone to a better studio. We used better equipment, better toys, ye know… To get this organic sound, and that’s why this album sounds so thicker and bigger. So…(laugh) It wasn’t so hard, we’re pretty hard on ourselves, we push ourselves to the limit, every fuckin’ time. I’m gonna repeat one verse for a hundred of times if I’m not happy with it.

Some people have complained about your vocals. They’ve said that vocals on “Demigod” were overlaid and too unarticulated. But this time, there’s something like…that your voice is totally natural.
That’s true. The whole feeling of “The Apostasy” is that this album sounds way more natural than “Demigod”. And, I just wanted to make shore that every part of this record sound natural. For this album it wouldn’t work to do the same stuff as for the “Demigod”. I love “Demigod”, what I did on “Demigod” was all-all right, all was perfect, in my opinion. Some people said it wasn’t cool ye kno’, I think it was great. People’s perceptional things and my perceptional things are usually different, because I’m an artist, I’m in charge for this band. And there are just people who listen to it and then they give their opinions. But I can tell you that I think I did it right on “The Apostasy” and I did right on “Demigod”. I just did what I like it. You can never satisfy everyone. I’m totally aware of the fact, that there are 1000 opinions, and that there’s gonna be 100 or 200, who’ll say “Hey, we don’t like this, we don’t like that”.

I heard somewhere that you’ve took singing lessons…
Yes. Vocals are the most stressing thing for me. To be honest, on “Demigod” I pretty much hurted my throat, and I just couldn’t singing any more. I’ve started spitting blood. And that’s the main reasons why I did with so many layers. A one track didn’t sounded brutal enough. So, for this one, I decided to took vocal lessons, because I wanted to make shore that I’m on my best. And man! I took like two months of vocal lessons. We just went to the studio and nailed every song within 30 minutes. There were no corrections, nothing needed. It sounded awesome from the start. So, man! I’m totally happy with the vocal work.

You used keyboards on this album, and some other live instruments…
That true. Especially trumpets, choirs… it was all real. Some of the black metal bands, even the death metal bands, they use synthesizers. Hardly any of them use the instruments with real people, because, first of all, it’s more problematic, it’s more difficult to record, and second, it takes too much time, and too much money. Most of the bands don’t give a fuck about the production, and they go the easiest way. Behemoth have never gone the easier way. We have done some epic parts in the past, but now, expending those parts by hiring the real musicians to do it. And if we gonna do this next time, we gonna do the same. I don’t wanna use keyboards anymore.

What was your main inspiration to make such sinister and ritualistic approach to this new album?
I don’t know about inspiration. I just had this picture of this record being very disturbing and evil sounding. For some reason I thought it was perfect match, perfect expression. I did that, and I’m happy with it. It sounds unique. That’s it.

About lyrics, does your friend Christopher helped you again with them?
We did a two songs for the record, rest are mine. I just had this need, to do it all by myself. There are different kind of lyrics on this record. It actually differs much from “Demigod”. “Demigod” lyrics were pretty much one dimensional, it was more less “fuck you” attitude within lyrics. And on this new one, I had this militant background. I had this Roman, Imperial (laugh) commanding spirit.

You have pretty interesting cover art-work. Which was ideas for it? To me it seems it’s like some ancient of Hindu Goddess…?
Main inspiration was Hindu Goddess of creation and destruction, Khali. But we…kind a develop it. Even as we used Baphomet, as the source of the main inspiration, it never ends as the Baphomet you see on Gigers painting or anywhere else. Khali was foundation on this project, but I think we just expended it. We have gone beyond that. I wanted to have this dangerous looking and disturbing cover-art. And it’s first time that we had this digital cover art.

The title of the album is “The Apostasy”, and it is term for someone who disowns his religion heritage. Why did you named album with such title?
First of all, because of the meaning, “The Apostasy” is strong statement man! It has such strong rebellion background. And Behemoth is nothing but rebellious band, ye kno’. The awesome title is in the same time a great statement of what is this band all about. And “The Apostasy”, it just sounds epic! When you listen to the music, and you see the cover, the title, it all makes one picture. Behemoth, in mine eyes, have all ways been conceptual band. So, I think we simply completed that concept. Every single factor works good with each other.

Do you think that “The Apostasy” can become most successive Behemoth’s album, and you think that you can reach status of some extreme bands like Morbid Angel etc?
It’s just for me to decide. I’m already great full that people buying our records, and to coming to shows. For me, we are already succeeded. It’s a success for me already. If we can go higher, beyond this, I’ll be more than happy. But I’m already happy, ye know what I mean (laugh). And it’s not for me to judge, now it’s up to people if they decide to buy our record, and if they decide to put us higher than we are. But, all I can say is that we completed very honest album and we get everything to sounds best possible. Our work is done here, and we gonna push it up hard as possible. We gonna tour to death, and then we’ll see. Time shall tell.

You recorded and released your first album if I’m not wrong, when you were very young, like 13 or 14 years old.
Yeah. (Laugh) Well….what can I say man, I was a kid ye kno’, and I was very passionate to black metal, to do this evil and sinister music. I didn’t really have much experience as I considering myself as very poor musician. I wasn’t good enough to express myself through that music. If I’m listen to it today, it sounds kind a embarrassing (laugh) at times. But, we still play old songs live. We just started playing “Summoning of the Ancient ones” from “Demonica” which is the song from our two demo tapes, and it’s extremely well received by people. We shouldn’t divide this band into the periods like black metal period, death metal period, whatever period… I think it’s bullshit.

I have heard that your main inspiration for founding of Behemoth were bands like Blasphemy, Beherit, Morbid Angel of course…Samael etc. But who are your favorite metal bands of today’s metal scene?
I’ve listen to so many bands man, so many different records. I just discovered for myself band from Sweden – Watain. And when it comes to black metal genre, I think that they are at fully best black metal band around. There’s no more Dissection, but I think that Watain is just a perfect…eh…they just took after Dissection, and took after the Mayhem, as Mayhem not able to do any…ah…new album is not really exciting to me, and I think Watain took that really strong.

If it’s not secret, how many copies of the albums you sell usually?
It’s not secret, but I can’t tell you how much we sell usually, but I can tell you how much we sold of “Demigod” who was our bestseller so far. And I think that “Demigod” sold world wide in whole world, I think…60 000 copies.

You had show in Belgrade, what are yours expressions from it?
I expected a lot, and I got it a lot. It was an awesome show, we had so much fun and I loved it. Stage sound, people response and everything, it was awesome man. We did it our best, and people totally appreciated. I’ve promise we’ll come back, and I’ll do it.

One more question, how did you get idea and contact with Warrel Dane from Nevermore?
Yeah, we got that song, experimental song “Inner Sanctum” ye kno’, and I didn’t know will this song ended up on the record, because it sounded so bizzar, from the start, ye kno’. Than I stated that I don’t want to ruin this song with my vocals, so I get in touch with Warrel Dane, and he was excited to doing vocals for that song. And then we did like e-mailing to each other for vocal transaction, and what I’ve got, it just blow me away. I think is that many people actually does see “Inner Sanctum” as on of the best songs on the record. So I’m happy. Totally.

Do you have any message at the end for the fans here?
Man! Just stay independent, stay strong and support metal fucking music. Get out and get the copy of “The Apostasy”, I think it’s really worth of your money. And yeah, we will definitely come back for a Behemoth show when we’re around.

  • Interview by Slobodan Trifunovc
  • Answers by Nergal