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Josh Gray , October 16th, 2018 11:25

“We are who we are and we do whatever the fuck we want!” Josh Gray chats to Behemoth's Nergal about the visual side of his band's art and what keeps driving his band to dark new heights

Behemoth are a rare proposition – an extreme, overtly satanic metal band who somehow manage to convert a new legion of fans with each new release.

Over their 27-year career the band have consistently blurred the line between the visual and the musical aspects of their art, the twisted Catholicism of their music videos, album covers and live shows and videos striding hand in hand with frontman Nergal's graphic lyrics about world-eating serpents and demonic rituals.

I caught up with Nergal himself in that unusual window between the launch of the new album I Loved You At Your Darkest (which took place, fittingly, on London's Crucifix Lane at the Underdog gallery) and the beginning of their mammoth album tour to discuss the release of the record, along with some of the more unusual marketing tactics the band have employed this time around.

How did the I Loved You At Your Darkest launch go?

Nergal: It was amazing. It was huge! I mean, super busy, but I'm so happy with everything. I mean the turnout and stuff? The HMV signing was massive, and everything was just awesome, so, very happy with it.

You displayed many of the images from the art and videos surrounding the album. Was the general baroque, renaissance-era theme something you had in mind while you were writing it?

N: I'd say that when working on the record, the process is just continuously growing and expanding. I don’t really like to leave myself just to one platform or one dimension, like sonics or lyrics. It's a whole combination of factors and pieces that help you to get the full Behemoth experience. It makes the whole project very diverse and multi-layered.

The painting that adorned The Satanist infamously included some of your own blood. Were any bodily fluids involved on this one?

N: No, I mean there was no need for that, you know? I always go for whatever my intuition or instinct tells me to do, so there's nothing like that. There are a lot of other things happening.

Did Denis Forkas (painter on The Satanist) create the artwork again this time around?

N: Well, he did but we never used it. When he delivered his artwork we just found it not as amusing as we'd expected it to be, so we decided to go with this Italian painter called Nicola Samori and it's his painting you can see on the cover of the record.

Will you be following a similar theme for your live show?

N: We are working on it as we speak, but I don't think that the front cover itself will be presented much live, you know? We're bringing some other ideas and some LED systems this time around, actually for the first time ever in our history. So yes, we are working on something totally fresh and new to us. I want everyone who comes to see Behemoth this time to have a new experience all the way through.

Do you have a Bible on your desk for reference when you work?

N: Oh yeah yeah yeah, I do go back and forth revisiting that book. It's one of our main inspirations. Usually what you'll see is like a reflection of the Bible, its stories or its aesthetics, that are represented in a very crooked mirror, so to speak. But yeah, I think I have a few copies back at home. But usually I won't use a hard copy, If I need something I'll tend to Google it these days.

You released a limited run of God = Dogfood to accompany your similarly named single. Did you write the song with a mind to get into the dog food business, or was it the other way around?

N: Haha! I mean, the song itself is obviously very serious, despite all the controversy of blaming the title for being childish and so on. I don't care much about that. It was exactly what I wanted to put there. I did that and then came up with this idea of doing this limited edition of vegan dog treats, which is pretty much a joke. I know it pisses off a lot of religious people, but that's always the good side of the joke, you know?

Do you ever worry that your visual aesthetic and sense of humour will make people see you as more of a pantomimic act, like Ghost, than serious Satanists like Watain, Deicide etc?

N: I'm not really in people's heads, so I can't really take on responsibility for how they perceive Behemoth. As far as I know people really treat us very seriously. There's no gimmick here, and they know that we stand behind every word that is said on the record, and in every conversation I've repeated that it's not a gimmick. But I might be lying, right?

What has the reception of the album been like

N: It's been received really well. You know, I honestly go through comments on Facebook and Instagram, so there're a lot of comments that are like 'Well, I'm a huge fan of The Satanist but this one is even better' blah blah blah, which is great! There are also people who bitch that we're just too mainstream for them, which I understand but then I'm like, well, we are extreme but we're also something beyond that, you know?

When people confront something, they really need these strong, very opposite opinions, you know? And I don't. Today I feel like flying to Mars and maybe tomorrow I want to fly to Jupiter? We have 11 records and not one sounds alike. Fist on heart I hope that one of the main reasons why people respect and dig Behemoth is that we keep it very diverse and there's a lot of variety. We've been around for 27 years now and are releasing our eleventh album, the last thing I want to do is just to release a record to cash in on, you know? Just to keep shit going for fame or to pay my mortgage? No! We are never going to be one of these bands. This is another rule in our history – we are who we are and we do whatever the fuck we want.

Behemoth's new album I Loved You At Your Darkest is out now and can be purchased here. You can read our review of the album here and find their upcoming tour dates here