Bards of the Black Baltic
CoC speaks with Nergal of Behemoth
by: Henry Akeley
Proud "Bards of Pomeranian Heathendom", Poland's Behemoth prove that you don't have to be from Scandinavia to create immense, intense black metal with originality and flair. Last year's excellent _Grom_ impressed me a great deal (see my gushing review in CoC #15), and the album remains a big favorite around here still. The band's earlier material is much more raw and simplistic, but I still think that their demo and first MCD (whose names you'll find below) are killer takes on the just-as-raw-as-possible style of black metal. _Grom_, on the other hand, is quite a bit more muscular and dynamic, an impassioned, thundering monster of a record. The first time I heard it, I decided that I'd definitely try to get an interview with these guys for the zine. Here's the result.

CoC: For readers who may not be familiar with the band, could you please give a brief history, including your recent activities?

Nergal: Behemoth was formed by [guitarist/vocalist/songwriter] Nergal in mid-1991. Since the beginning, the music of the band has been oriented within the canons of black metal. We recorded a few demo tapes which were very successful and gained a lot of excellent opinions from all over the world. After the recording of the _From the Pagan Vastlands_ demo tape, we got an offer from a German label, Nazgul's Eyre, and an American one, Wild Rags, to release it on CD format. Shortly after this, the editions of this demo CD were available on both continents. Our first real piece was the MCD _And the Forests Dream Eternally_, which can be ordered from the German [label] Last Epitaph Productions. Also available is our first full-length CD called _Sventivith_. In the end of '95, we recorded our second opus, _Grom_, and months later we went on a European tour with Pagan Triumph, which made our position among the black metal bands much stronger. At the moment, we're promoting our new EP, _Bewitching the Pomerania_, which is an announcement of our third opus, _Pandemonic Incantations_, which should hit humanity in the fall of 1997.

CoC: What do you think sets Behemoth apart from the many other bands in today's crowded extreme metal scene?

N: I think we are far more dedicated to the black metal scene than most of the other bands on this planet. Behemoth is something I pay all my attention to, and I put all my heart in it. Because of that, we stand above the average-ism of today's black metal scene, and believe me, we shall bombard the human race with our new album, that's sure!

CoC: The band's sound has really grown from the early days of your first releases (which I still really like). Do you still consider Behemoth to be a black metal band? Today, what does black metal represent to you?

N: Black metal stands for extreme individuality and expression of yourself within its realm. That's what black metal means to me. Of course, this is a great style of MUSIC, but I believe that's not everything that black metal stands for. It's strongly connected to your life, and it's a kind of thing, an irrational being that exists among us, feeds our hungry hearts with its magnificent and totally unique atmosphere and meaning. Something which is hard to express in any mortal language.

CoC: Many of the lyrics on _Grom_ speak of the power of nature, and of a return to "ancient pride" - and pride and power are very evident in your sound. Please tell us a bit more about the personal convictions behind your lyrics and music.

N: The lyrics are a very integral part of our music, and certainly one can't exist without the other. I don't want people to look upon my poems as a kind of manifesto, because it simply isn't one. They are a kind of mirror of my inner self, the expression of the inner voice of my soul. I try to express all that's important in my life, and these are the emotions that are born from my love for Pomerania and what it's all about, the history, the ancient pride, etc. I hope you can feel even a little piece of this feeling while reading my lyrics... if not, then try again until you find what I call the essence of life.

CoC: If you could be reborn during any period of past history, what period would you choose, and why?

N: Sometimes I really think that I belong to a different reality, that I'm the kind of man who belongs to the past or the future, but its surely a great kingdom of freedom. I'm deeply into history, but I'm not so sure if there is any period in it which I'd love so much. Of course, I find it extremely interesting to read about ancient civilizations, barbaric tribes, etc., but all in all, I'd prefer to stay in my own world. I still believe there are some things left to be done on this damn earth, and I shall realize myself as long as the gods help me in the present life.

CoC: How does the future look to you?

N: As always, it's filled with emotions, and it's exciting to wait and see how humanity will change when we will have had our third son. As I said in the first answer, we're working hard on our third album, which should be out in the end of the year on German Solstitium Records. Until then, we will be promoting our MCD, which shows our present face. Just check it out, and you'll easily notice that we're stronger than ever!

CoC: Tell us about your new material.

N: The new songs differ from the ones on _Grom_. They are surely more mature in each way. You'll see, we've developed as musicians, and it's audible on our new record. It's full of extreme emotions. The sound is also much better than on our previous release. There may be some more melodies, some more synth parts, but it stays brutal and fast as hell!

CoC: I believe you recently played quite a few clubs around Europe in support of _Grom_. How did that go?

N: I must admit that the tour we did in September '96 went really great. Well, there were still some places where the crowd's behaviour was really annoying, but fortunately, we are quite a well known band, and there were always a few individuals who seemed to know what was going on when Behemoth performed. I just want to hail all of them, hoping we meet together in the nearest future... We have played in countries like Germany, Belgium, and Holland, and in most places the reaction of the crowd was really amazing. They seemed to know our lyrics very well, which was quite a surprise for me. After finishing the next recording, we'll go on tour again, most possibly in the fall of this year or in the beginning of 1998. Time shall tell.

CoC: Please name four or five albums from the past year or so which you would consider essential.

N: It's extremely hard to name the most essential ones, but I'll have a try: Mercyful Fate, _Into the Unknown_; King Diamond, _Graveyard_; Manowar, _Louder than Hell_; Satyricon, _Nemesis Divina_; Nephilim, _Zoon_. Well, it's sure that there are still some important titles left out, but it's really impossible to decide what counts as the most essential ones, really.

CoC: In the end, how would you like Behemoth to be remembered?

N: Even if we are dead one day, the memory of us will stay immortal, as our music surely is. Just remember that even if the black metal wave will pass, never to return, there will come the day of wrath, and then we will enter the eternal night, rape your bodies with our magnificent art... This ART forever shall be.

(article submitted 9/4/1997)

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11/19/2008 Y Zhu 8 Behemoth - Ezkaton
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11/6/2003 X Hoose Behemoth - Antichristian Phenomenon
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9/1/1998 A McKay 7.5 Behemoth - Pandemonic Incantations
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1/10/2001 D Rocher Morbid Angel / Enslaved / The Crown / Dying Fetus / Behemoth / Hypnos Belated Tales of the Unexpected
3/5/2000 M Noll Satyricon / Behemoth / Hecate Enthroned Untied Bronze Chains
3/14/1999 P Schwarz Deicide / Rotting Christ / Aeternus / Ancient Rites / Behemoth Dead by Dawn
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