Countdown to Behemoth 

 ph Fabiola Santini

Bloodstock Open Air 2012 is fast approaching. With a line-up to die for, the British metal festival returns this year, granting us a plethora of superb headliners. Friday 10th August marks the return of the Polish black metal outfit Behemoth to English soil. Everybody has been waiting as Behemoth have been greatly missed live in the UK, having not visited since 2008. Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski, the band’s mastermind and frontman, had to take time off from the international live scene to recover from the biggest challenge in his life. He battled his evil, malevolent enemy leukemia and proudly won. After his recent European tour with the likes of Cannibal Corpse (with whom Behemoth co-headlined Full of Hate 2012) and with Watain, The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude in the States, Nergal is back to steer his platoon to victory again. There is so much happening in their promising future where Bloodstock Open Air 2012 is just the beginning. Here is what Nergal shares on a sunny London day as he gets ready to embark upon such a eagerly anticipated comeback.

I just got back, like yourself, from Hellfest..

Ah, that was a good one!

Behemoth was, for me, THE highlight of the whole event. You had such an amazing set list, ending the encore with Lucifer, which is a true masterpiece of sound and visual effects.

The adrenaline and the energy we all had as soon as we hit the stage that night was amazing! We were on fire and having such great feedback from the audience; we did our best and got the best in return, no question about it.  With this new set-list, in a way we slowed down the pace and made the whole show more epic, less chaotic and crazy, but much bigger and distinguished. As far as ending the set-list with Lucifer, we are definitely going to do that too at Bloodstock. The last chorus of this song usually leaves people speechless; it’s not the typical ending to a live show. Did you notice the black confetti in the air? Those represent the ashes, it’s all very symbolic. To me, playing this song live is the highlight of the show as I feel such a relief every time.  I do not know why, but I always feel that something is coming off me; this song is very reflective, so much slower than the rest of the other tracks, so people really watch and the end comes with the fire and the confetti.. And we leave  and don’t come back. This reflects the fact that today, Behemoth is more conceptual, less spontaneous and accidental; there are deeper thoughts behind everything.

How difficult is for you now to put together the set list now in 2012 having nine albums to choose from?

It is difficult! We decided to put together a set list that would fill the atmosphere. A song like Demigod is definitely the iron point in every set-list.

The set-list as it was at Hellfest makes us wish Bloodstock Open Air 2012 was tomorrow as Behemoth will headline the first day. But let’s talk about your recent US tour with Watain (who will also play at Bloodstock on the same day as Behemoth,) the Devil’s Blood and In Solitude; four astonishing bands united in the concepts and beliefs. What was it like for you to headline such a tour?

I was in charge to pick up the bands for this tour, this makes me very proud. We wanted to make a statement, so I told my manager that this time we are picking up the bands ourselves. Usually, as you know, tours are made by bands that are being told to tour because of the commercial advantage of the whole package that the labels and the bands themselves work out. So you know what? We decided instead to pick up bands that we thought the people should check-out, which would make the bill have lots of variety while still maintaining and showing the same ground as all the bands come, ideologically speaking, from the same foundation. And so it happened. I am a huge fan of all the bands of this tour and I respect all of them a lot: In Solitude, they are kids and so talented, they are an amazing band. We had so many problems in the past, like visa issues, as we were trying to put the right package together and this time I was like “shit is this going to be happening again?” But everything was just perfect until the end of the tour; we had a great time both on and off stage.

I asked Eric from Watain, who I also recently interviewed in anticipation of Bloodstock, the same question: touring across the US with such a line-up must have created some sort of resistance and controversy along the road.

The first show of the tour was moved away from the original venue for religion driven reasons but I do not care, as in the end we ended up playing the show anyway. Actually it went all pretty smooth; I am pretty disappointed that there were not too many disruptions. The big shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York were amazing, we went from playing in front of three hundred people to over a thousand. It was a very well attended tour and a massive success for all of us; I do not think there is one single person from each band of this tour that was disappointed.

Too bad I missed your show in Los Angeles, as I was due there only three days after the show…

…. so you just saw the ashes I left behind……

Indeed! Luckily Bloodstock is not  too far away! You have not played in England for a while and you are coming back to such an amazing event, what are you expecting from this crowd?

Bloodstock is one of the most exiting events for us this summer, there is so much anticipation and pressure on us but we are definitely going to  pull it off, we are going to make it. There is lot of stress involved in this, but also lots of support from the fans here in the UK.

About your many talents: I recently saw the cover of your book and I have heard you will be soon on the big screen.

There are actually two books: the Behemoth biography in Polish that came out few weeks back, and my own, Sacrum Profanum, a long in depth interview, again in Polish which will be published in October. I want both books to be translated and be out next year. Both books have been hard work, but also lots fun, revisiting places and going through situations in the past. For my autobiography, it took six months, thirteen chapters; actually, I am supposed to go back to the hotel and finish the last chapter now.  And about the movie, I am not sure it’s a talent, it feels more like a passion, hunger for doing and trying out different things. I try to open as many doors as possible to myself, I like to see what happens. I do not think one is destined to do one thing for his own life, the human potentials can be multi-talented, sometimes we do not find this out until we try.  I start filming next week, it’s a comedy about Nazis. It’s coming out in February next year. All the actors are Polish but we will be speaking in German because in the movie we are all Nazis.  It will be the Polish version of Inglorious Bastards. I was offered this role and I said why not, you know?

I am really looking forward to seeing it! And going back to music and Behemoth, your latest album, Evangelion, is still so active and present in the metal community as it’s an album that renews itself at every listen; however, as you are now back to the live scenes, your fans, as you may well expect, are wondering about the follow up…..

I’ve got the demo here! …No I am kidding (laugh). We’ve got the skeleton ready, we just need to work on it. I want to enter the recording studio in March and have the album ready next year around September. It’s quite far, but time flies; it’s going to happen pretty soon. People should be patient, we do not want to deliver just another album, we want to deliver one that people will still be talking about in the next decade.

Are you planning to record it in Poland and work again with Colin Richardson as producer?

We are going to definitely be tracking it down in Poland, but mixing it probably in the US this time; we are considering few names for producing it but have not nailed anything yet.

Behemoth are considered to have played a major role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground scene alongside bands such as Vader, Decapitated, Vesania and Hate. What is your relationship like with these bands these days and how do you feel about having such an important honor of bringing it all to the world?

We all get along, we just did a tour with Vader sharing the same bus; we are friends all supporting each other with no rivalry whatsoever. If it’s true of such an honor for Behemoth that I am honored. I have seen some stalkers here taking pictures of me, it’s a funny thing for extreme metal artists. We are quite popular in Poland, sometimes we are chased by religious fanatics; this proves we are some of the very few artists that are being recognized, which is a kind of paradox. I do not care, really.

You started it all when you were a teenager…

I am still young! (laughs)

Indeed…. Have you ever imagined back then that Behemoth would have taken you so far?

When I was sixteen, I was really thinking that one day Behemoth would have headlined Bloodstock. There was no Bloodstock back then but still…. I sensed it and knew (laughs). Sometimes I go like whoa! It’s  been over twenty years and we are still doing well, it’s fucking amazing.

Get ready for Bloodstock, we promise we are not giving up, pushing it to the top, we will be relentless.

Fabiola Santini