According to Behemoth frontman Nergal, The Satanist has “the most of a human in it yet.”
And he’s not lying.
In a recent interview, Nergal told HEAVY the artwork for new album, The Satanist, will contain Nergal’s own blood. Russian symbolist painter Denis Forkas was commissioned for the work, with Nergal delivering a box containing his own blood to Moscow where Forkas blended it into the painting to give it “a more organic feel.”
“I wanted to incorporate some of my DNA into the art,” says Nergal. “This album seems to be so defining of who we are now as people and as individuals, and considering all the instances in recent years, [we wanted] to make it more ‘ours’ than it is usually.”
Speaking of the design: “It’s very arty; it’s very artistic and it really has no heavy metal clichés in it. Expect something very special and spectacular, and deeper than all of the other products that are in the market.”
Nergal also confirmed that The Satanist, being delayed several months and now set for release in early 2014, is no longer being produced by Evangelion mastermind Colin Richardson. Following creative differences, Richardson quit after four weeks mixing the record and has been replaced with heavy metal producer Matt Hyde.
“We just couldn’t agree on certain concepts and visions of what the record should sound like,” says Nergal. “He did a great job actually – but Matt was always supposed to be the main mixing guy for the record.
“Within a week or two weeks with Matt I had the whole record mixed and believe me, it’s the best-sounding Behemoth record for sure. It’s very organic, it’s very different – I love it.”
Fans can rest assured they will receive a taste of the highly-anticipated album when Behemoth return to Australia in October, although drummer Inferno will not be appearing on the tour following on from appendix surgery earlier this year.
Instead, ex-Decapitated blast-master Krimh will be behind the kit.
Krimh (aka Kerim Lechner) has been performing with Behemoth since the Rockstar Mayhem Energy Drink in June. Nergal says although Krimh has done an amazing job, there is no chance he would ever become a permanent replacement, and Inferno is expected to return by the end of the year.
“Krimh is certainly not the same kind of drummer as Inferno,” says Nergal. “He’s in the same class but just with a different style – he’s a good guy and he does a great job so we’re really thankful for all the help and effort he puts into Behemoth.”
Behemoth are no stranger to illness and injury; fans around the world united to support Nergal when he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010. Thankfully, Nergal received a bone marrow transplant in the same year and overcame his battle, proving he really can “Conquer All”.
Three years down the track and fully emancipated from his sickness, Nergal is a changed man. There’s no doubt about that – you can hear it in his voice. Sure, he’s always been a very serious and politically-charged artist, but Nergal now espouses a new kind of down-the-line attitude that can only come with conquering death.
“I have always been ahead of others, so to speak. I’m very much into hard work and being motivated, and I’m more than ever like that,” he says. “It’s the conscience that life is just a temporary thing – it has taught me to appreciate life more than anything else, you know. I am a f**king life-worshipping motherf**ker,” he laughs.
Of course, the new Behemoth record was always going to reflect Nergal’s illness in some way. It’s inevitable that when you go through something which so radically puts your life in perspective, it will manifest itself in whatever you create.
“All of the so-called negatives that have happened in my life recently – I turn them into positives and advantages,” Nergal says. “This album pretty much just wrote itself [because] we just went with what naturally came out from our systems – we clean out all the filth and dirt, and it just materializes in song structures.”
“Usually we try to force ourselves to cross certain boundaries and certain limitations. But unlike all the other albums, with The Satanist we stopped doing that,” he says.
There has been a lot of debate in Behemoth forums about the title of the album – is it too simple? Is it too similar to Satanica? How did it supposedly take a blackened death metal band two decades to think of ‘The Satanist’? But people are missing the point and Nergal doesn’t give a shit about the debate.
“One of the reasons I thought it was the perfect title for a Behemoth record is because I am tired of talking,” he says. “It’s more than enough what you see and what you hear, really. Let people contemplate and come up with their own interpretations. F**k your brain a bit and stimulate it.”
With the tour less than two months away, you’ve got time to save up your pennies.What are you saving for, you wonder? Well, when asked if he had any messages for his Australian fans, Nergal replied: “If anyone can help me out and hook me up with some equipment, I want to do some kitesurfing while I’m there!”
Nergal recently posted a photo of himself skydiving on his Facebook, so are extreme sports something he’s really into?
“Well, it’s a bit like sex,” he says, explaining that he gets nauseous easily. “You have this few seconds of pleasure – when you’re in the air it’s like an orgasm, but then I lay down for like two hours throwing up – that’s no fun. I’d rather stick to kitesurfing and sex than extreme sports,” he laughs.
Soundworks Touring are bringing Behemoth back to Australia in October with Italian death metallers Hour of Penance, and Nergal is as kind as ever about performing in our country.
“We are very thankful wherever we go. With whatever crowd there is we just want to share the energy and we are always grateful for that. I don’t really see Australia as a small market. Four or five solid shows with some great people and great energy?
“That’s amazing. It’s the purpose of life for me.”
You can purchase tickets for the Behemoth and Hour of Penance Australian tour here.