Interview With Behemoth
Interview and live pictures By Luxi and Arto
The Polish extreme metallers Behemoth visited Finland at the prestigious Tuska Metal
Open Air Festival and gave an uncompromisingly merciless lesson of their own brand of
extreme metal to the Finnish metal crowd. The two "extreme metal specialists" of
Metal-Rules.com were so deadly impressed by a brutal set of these relentless Polish
Death Metal troops that the vocalist Nergal had to be picked up to inquire a thing or two
about Behemoth. The interview was completed, but as usual, the tape containing the
interview in question, went into hiding rather mysteriously, until it popped up again
during some cleaning in this messy Hell - better known as my precious hall of Heavy Metal
Things like touring with Danzig never happened for Behemoth for several reasons.
Instead, the Polish pagan metallers hit the North American soil with Six Feet Under. While
you are reading the interview with Nergal, you´re about to notice, it cannot be denied
that Nergal has a huge passion and devotion towards the great music of Danzig. So hopefully
Behemoth will be seen on the same tour with the mighty Danzig in the future as it would
surely mean something extraordinary special for Nergal himself without a doubt.
The Behemoth line-up has undergone some changes lately as the band´s guitarist Havoc
has been pulled out of the band due to personal reasons. As further news, however,
Behemoth has started working on the new material: their forth-coming album carrying
DEMIGOD as its working title.
You started Behemoth as a Black Metal band over ten years ago, but on SATANICA (on
Avantgarde in 2000) Behemoth was introduced as a more Death Metal orientated band
musically. What happened?
Well, yeah... everybody asks me the same question over and over again. I dont
know what I really have to say. For example, yesterday some dude told me: Hey dude,
you have to excuse from yourself because you arent Black Metal anymore, but cheating
yourself by playing Death Metal... But my answer is always the same: If I have to
excuse from myself for being 15 or 16 or 17 years old, you are just something and you
cant do anything about it, ya' know? You just improve and think some things that
just come out from yourself naturally. You can struggle them as it is something that comes
out of me. I cant do anything about it. It is just the music that just flows and as
far as a technical improvement is concerned, it is different when you started to play live
like Black Metal. Black Metal is just easier for me to play and not that challenging, ya
´know? Now our music is more based of a heavy riffing and much more groove stuff. It is
because I have learnt the different guitar techniques and started really to play the
guitar, not just only behaving and acting. Ya´ know, I mean, all so-called incarnations
of our music are me and I am proud of all the stuff I have done, even some of this stuff
is crap totally, I dont really care. We even play some songs that have been done in
1994 already and we play some songs that are from our new album. It is all the same band,
y´know, and the feeling of the spirit is Black Metal for me anyway, so...
Did you think Black Metal was too limited thing for you in the first place?
Yeah, probably so. But I never analyzed it. I never tried to. We are just like:
Ok, this new album is more like Death Metal and that album is more like Black
Metal... and that´s it, ya´ know?
Do you think that Black Metal gained a little bit larger media attention at some
point because of all these outside activities?
I didnt think about that actually. When I formed Behemoth I was 15 and when you
are 15 you hardly ever think, y´know what I mean? You just go by your own instincts and
you never analyze. You dont think of the income from the music and you dont
think about the fans even. I didnt think a fuck about fans back then because I was a
fan as well, y´know. I was 15 and I just wanted to play the music that I loved. And I
care so much about the fans these days and I care so much about the income, I care so much
about a single detail because it makes me who I am these days, y´know. I just grew up,
you know what I mean. So, as I told you, it is me here and it was me there. So its
all like a different person. I am not like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde... or whatever. It is a
development, y´know. When you get a pic of yourself when you were like ten years younger,
it cant be compared to the current ones as it is so different person. When you grow
old, you get bald, you get fat and you are just a different person, y´know. You get
smarter of course, you are not naive anymore. And its all just so natural. And it is
also with the music, it is a very personal process which didnt start just like that,
instead it was like step-by-step development for us. Our PANDEMONIC INCANTATIONS album was
still a Black Metal album in my opinion; like a cross between Dissection and Mayhem kind
of stuff, y´know. But I would say that this new album from us, ZOS KIA CULTUS (Here
And Beyond) has definitely got a bit more Death Metal approach. But I dont
even consider Behemoth a Death Metal band either. I dont think we are a Death Metal
band at all. We are like a mix of a lot of different stuff as there is Thrash Metal, Black
Metal of course and then there is Death Metal in our music. But I see no single point,
y´know, no single thing that we could be compared to Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse and so
But how about being compared to Morbid Angel?
Yeah, we are quite close to Morbid Angel because our extreme metal is very spiritual,
so is Morbid Angel. It has this special feeling. And Cannibal Corpse and Dying Fetus.
Those are Death Metal bands and we dont sound like those bands at all. Maybe it is a
different school of Death Metal. I dont know and care as long as the music is good,
then it is ok with me.
Like your music being ´extreme´ and ´brutal´?
Yeah... yeah... of course!! It has to be extreme, it has to be emotional and we have
that kind of metal and a lot of feelings in our music. It is not just about the techniques
about showing off the guitar fuckin´ scales or whatever. Definitely not!! Everything has
all places in our music. Writing good songs, good lyrics, good riffs and it just has to be
Which is more challenging for you; writing lyrics or writing the music?
Both. I never separate it. Its one thing and its equally important for me
and us in this music.
Your lyrics are based on occultism and paganism. How much have you studied these
topics in the first place?
We are pretty much a pagan band. People usually misunderstand the meaning of a word
´pagan´, I think. We used to deal many topics with our ancestors from the past like
f.ex. on our GROM album (released on Solistitium Records in 1996) as a matter of speaking.
We are pagan, but they were in a Slav´s sense; a Slavanic sense, you know what I mean?
They are more about those kinds of things. And these days we are pagan, but in a global
sense. I mean, if we deal with Egypt, we deal with paganism and if we deal with the
ancient Greece or Rome even, we deal with paganism. So we deal with many different topics.
We just mix them up, wash them and fit to Behemoth. It is like a lot of things that we
work on. And I don´t try to analyze our music too much like this is ´black´ and that is
What is so fascinating in paganism that you actually want to write about it through
your own lyrics?
It is not limited. It doesnt have doctrines, you know what I mean? It doesn´t
have like rules or commands like in more institution-like religions and stuff like that
these days. It´s got more freedom like based on nature, human nature. Sometimes it is
very cruel and sometimes it´s crazy in a way, but it is pretty much into human nature,
about the human nature, so thats why I find very attractive about paganism.
Lets talk about easier topics next: How did you like your gig here at Tuska
It was great, it was splendid, y´know.
And this was your first time in Finland.
Yes, it was the first time for us to play here. Well, it is not just for Finland is
great; it´s great in general. This was one was one of the best shows that we have ever
played. I mean, we got some problems on the stage, I got some problems with my pedals and
I dont why. And the feedback from the guitar was shit. We have played hundreds of
shows on tours that have been technically better, but the reaction of the audience here at
Tuska paid it off really.
I guess the main reason why the audience was so intense is because we dont get
that many Death Metal or extreme metal bands in general to play here, but mostly Power
Metal bands, though.
Really? I was watching Edguy here and I was like: Ok, they are cool..., but
I am not into that kind of stuff, y´know. But then I saw people´s reaction in our show
and it was far better than the reaction there. Its like a feedback from what you
give to the people and what you get, you know what I mean? If we go crazy and if we are
extreme, if you just go really mad, y´know then you get the same from the people. They
are intelligent, of course as they do understand what the thing with our music really is,
Can you describe what kind of tension and feeling did you have when you played with
A fuckin´ great feeling because I am a huge Danzig fan and it was like a
´dream-come-true´ feeling for me in the first place. I met him at the backstage in
Berlin and chatted five minutes with Glen and gave him our CD and shirt. I just told him:
I am pretty sure you wont like this music because it is an extreme Death/Black
Metal..... And he was like: No, no, no..., I love Death/Black Metal and if I
like your album, I will invite you to the Blackest of the Black
festivals. And I thought he just wanted to be kind to me. That he was friendly and
respectful. Then a couple of months later when we were in the States with Danzig, I got a
phone call from our agent saying I got something big for you, are you ready to join
a tour with Danzig? and I was like: Uuhhww... wow!, and it was something
very very special for us, y´know - even opening for them as the first band, I dont
care. This fall we are going to do the whole tour with Danzig along with Coma, Superjoint
Ritual, etc. and it is gonna be a huge thing in the States. It´s gonna be a big tour
So you had to cancel this Bonded by Metal tour?
Yes, we had to cancel that tour because the tour with Danzig is on the same dates.
Thats too bad because already agreed to do this tour, but you cant refuse to
Danzig, y´know what I mean? You cant say ´no´ to Danzig in this case as it could
be a tour of my life, so it has to be done.
You have also played with other legends like Halford, correct? How was it to play
with a ´legend´ like him?
It was great!! I mean Rob was great and he was very friendly. We could tour on our bus
and a night before we left, he came by and said bye. It was so cool that you could join us
in the first place and so on. I talked to him half an hour and it was really nice. We hang
out Metal Mike mostly, the Halford guitarist. He is a Polish guy, by the way.
Yeah, just like Wojtek (that Luciferion -fame - Luxi adds!), he-heh!! So the Polish
nation rules all over the world
Well, now Rob Halford is back in Judas Priest... how do you feel about it?
I just got a sms message from my label yesterday and I was like:
Now you gotta open for Judas Priest...
Yeah... Actually Gorefest once opened for Judas Priest and then they split up, so maybe
it´s not a good idea after all to open up for them
(*laughs*) But Danzig is a
different thing as it is more like Black Metal in a way...
Speaking of the Polish metal scene, which has been very strong lately with bands
like Vader, Devilyn, Decapitated, Hate, Hell-Born and so on. How do you see the Polish
metal scene from your point of view?
It is very strong, it´s absolutely very strong, I think. But many Polish bands still
have problems to break through. Some of them are good and some of them are not, you know,
with bad English, no contacts, no managers, etc., so it´s pretty tough for many of them.
So basically they lack all of these things. They need some good professional managers and
reliable and trustful people around them in general. There are no managers in Poland and
all these bands really mean nothing in a global sense. It is cool that Decapitated is
doing great nowadays - not to forget Vader and us either. And then we are waiting for a
few more bands to tour Europe and releasing their albums worldwide and having a good
distribution for their releases. Those kinds of things are important, y´know.
Poland definitely has a long history in the extreme metal scene, bands like Turbo,
Imperator, Violent Dirge, Hazael, and all these bands as good examples out from your past
extreme metal scene. Do you know what has happened to some of these bands?
They dont exist anymore.
But are they still in some other line-ups nowadays?
Yeah. As for Hazael, I honestly don´t know what´s up with them these days. I think
they don´t do music any more. Some of them have entirely quit. But I tell you it´s funny
because the drummer from Violent Dirge nowadays plays in one of the biggest Pop bands in
Poland. They are really good musicians and very technical. And I think the drummer... I
don´t know, maybe even that guy plays in one of the biggest Pop start groups as well even
if I´m not so sure about it. But it´s still a good band, yeah... a good Polish band.
By the way, is Turbo still around?
Turbo? Well, they tried to make a reunion thing, tour and then recorded a very crappy
album and they had a deal with Metal Mind Records which is the biggest rip-off that I know
of. The deal and the album with them basically killed the whole band.
Back to your main band Behemoth again, though. You have this new mini-CD coming out
soon titled CONJURATION? What will it contain as a matter of speaking?
It is like a 30-min. long and contains previously unreleased stuff only; a couple of
very nice live songs and a couple of studio tracks that we have never released before.
Also there´s one outtake from ZOS KIA CULTUS and two cover songs from Nine Inch Nails and
How did you decide to pick up NIN?
I know the band, I like the band. So it was the same thing we did with a David Bowie
track. Actually I got a bootleg CD of NIN. They used to tour with David Bowie and there is
a song called Hello Spaceboy done by NIN with David Bowie as a guest vocalist
on that particular bootleg CD. Imagine... Nine Inch nails with David Bowie! It was
actually the first time when I heard that song, Hello Spaceboy and then I
borrowed the album and realized this song is very dark and atmospheric. And it´s the same
thing with NIN. I have known the band for years now and I like the song. I think it has
become kind of a tradition for us to struggle with some not really ´metal´ bands, but
with some bizarre kind of stuff, y´know which is also very dark because David Bowie and
NIN are extreme in their own way and style in my opinion. NIN is a fuckin´ extreme band
and in my opinion they are darker than 95 % of all Black/Death bands that are indeed kind
of ridiculous in so many ways. For example I think Wish is fuckin´ great. It
sounds very punk-like. We played it with the seven string guitars, made it sound really
crazy as we did double bass all the time - with some strange vocal lines for being given
there. It was a nice and great experience for us anyway. I am really curious to know what
people will say about this.
Then I assume you have been working with new songs all the time for your next album,
tentatively titled NEPHILISM RISING. Is that correct?
Yeah. NEPHILISM RISING is just a working title for it right now. I have some structures
in my head, but so far nothing has been completed yet, but we do have a lot of ideas for
it already, tho. It is gonna be some kind of continuation and maybe a bit crazier, more
barbaric and faster in a way...
You mean, compared to the previous album ZOS KIA CULTUS?
Yes, it is gonna be more or less the same direction, but like the last albums SATANICA,
THELEMA 6 and ZOS KIA CULTUS kinda like step-by-step development, so the next album, I
hope, will be just better with better songs and stuff. But as far as I am concerned I am
really satisfied with the last one.
So you are working on with the song writing process for the next album?
I am working
I just did my diploma at my university and I could compare it to the
working on the diploma. I mean, this is the thing, y´know. You cant do one tour in
two weeks and you have to work months and months and months..., y´know, to have something
right from here, something right from there and put all together after months of a hard
working. And what finally comes out is the final thing. It´s just working with riff by
riff and not making songs in a studio like rehearsing them all there at once: That just
doesn´t work for me that way at all.
Well then... what has a band called Possessed meant to you during your own musical
Not much really, apart from being another legend Death Metal band. Well, I cannot make
any comparisons from our stuff to Possessed, I mean, I have never been into Possessed. I
know the band, I do have all their albums at home of course, but I have never considered
them as a ´top legend´ for me as I am much more into Venom and Bathory.
What are your personal top five important albums anyway?
Well... probably something from Danzig. Pick any album from them as they are all
important albums especially for me personally. Then Morbid Angel albums, the ZOON album by
Nephilim. It´s really one of the best albums ever for me in the very first place!!
what else? Actually I cant come up with any other albums that could come
closer to these bands, so they are probably the three most important bands for me, so...
What do you think of Sadistic Intent?
We met these guys in L.A.. They are great guys. They did a signing session for us for
the second time, because the first time got fucked up because we couldnt get to
their shop because of too long distance. But it was great, it was a great party and they
have a really nice shop there Rising Realm Records. It is very underground, it
is very metal. If you go to The States you gotta visit there, they are great guys.
Before I´ll finish the interview, I have got some gifts to you... Here is a 10-inch
split vinyl of Possessed and Side Effect titled RESURRECTION released by a Polish
underground label Agonia Records, and also a 7 E.P. of Sadistic Intent titled MORBID
FAITH, which features Jeff Becerra in a Possessed cover song called The
Exorcist as a guest vocalist. That´s why I asked from you both about Possessed and
Sadistic Intent in the first place, heh! Anyway, here you go...
Are they for me? Uh, thanks a lot, man!! I really appreciate it!! This is a really
amazing gift, dude!!
And thanks for your time for having this conversation with us for Metal-Rules.com.!!
Thank you guys... thanks a lot!!
Band Website: behemoth.metalkings.com