Ofir Messer of Israel's Metalist Magazine recently conducted an interview with BEHEMOTH frontman Nergal. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Metalist Magazine: From first impression of the new record, I can hear that you took a more primitive approach to your death metal, but on the other hand, you put in a lot of modern influences and components. How did this change come to be? Was it something intentional?
Nergal: Not really, I think that everything we did came naturally. We never sit down and decide "let's go this way or that way". I like what you said about the record, in a way, it's more barbaric, and especially when you hear the sound and everything, it feels like it's out of control. Then on the other hand, there's some distinct things going on there, like this bombastic militant, in times a more epic approach for the record. Like I said, there's more extreme atmosphere in this record: on one hand you have songs that are totally out of control, insane and drastic, and then you got songs that are groovier and more atmospheric. I think it's a cool balance; I personally get bored if the album is just brutal from the first second to last, or just fast, because at the end of the day it makes it slow with no dynamics. I think there are very good dynamics in "The Apostasy".
Metalist Magazine: Songs such as "Slave Shall Serve" from "Demigod" use a lot of ancient Middle Eastern religious terms, such as the Jins and Khem. What is your interest in our [Israel's] local history?
Nergal: To be honest, we are unlike NILE or MELECHESH and bands like that; BEHEMOTH is not really keen on history. If you look at our mythological names, and incantations and spells, I use them for certain reason, I use them to express my attitude, my opinion about something. I use this name [Nergal] just to strength that spirit... I find it very strong and very inspirational. If I use some of these names, they have power that channel through them, so I pretty much use them just as expression. You should treat them more as metaphors, that's why there's so many different things in our lyrics. With NILE it's just about Egypt and with MELECHESH its all about Sumerian... And then BEHEMOTH puts fucking everything, because everything I find and interests me in person, I just use it.
Metalist Magazine: You said before that you didn't mean intentionally to move BEHEMOTH from being a black metal band, to be a death metal one. What do you say or think about people who were fans of your earlier work and are not into your current incarnation or vise versa?
Nergal: When you see us live, you see a band that performs songs from the very early career, but then we play new songs that are from our new record. I think that with this band, to capture the whole of it, you don't have to divide our history into periods — you are black metal, you are death metal — it's just all categories, it's just all labels, we don't need that. I think it's all about quality and sincerity, and we are like that — I respect every single aspect of this band and every period is important for me. You can say that we are this, or we are that, but I don't really think it's necessary, I think that we, as a band and artistically, are beyond genres. I actually like that people have problems labeling BEHEMOTH... [Laughs]... I think that it's positive.
Metalist Magazine: It's been some time since your show here in Israel... what do you remember of that time, the show, your trip to northern Israel and such, in comparison to all the places you have been to so far around the world?
Nergal: Actually you should know that Israel is one of my favorite places. Personally I think you have one of the most kind and warmest crowds, and it's been the best show we ever played there. We played two shows, and I've been there three times... All three shows and this [last] one especially were awesome. I loved it; you can see that we had so much fun on stage. And the way people treat us there — we had a very warm welcome, it's just awesome.
I love coming back there also because of the weather, the climate; I love it since it's always nice. Besides that I also like the sights, and the whole historical approach, its just makes Israel the perfect place to visit, not just for show, but also as tourist. I would love to come back there again and if we get a chance in a couple of years we're defiantly going to take it, we're defiantly going to come back and play for you and we'll visit other places. I've already been to many places in Israel and I've even written a song about it, "Christgrinding Avenue" which is about Jesus Christ and Jerusalem. This time we visited "Har Megiddo", "Nazareth" and "Caesarea", and I was blown away. I love this country, man!
Metalist Magazine: How do you feel about performing in Ozzfest this year?
Nergal: Man, this is the dream... It's like a dream comes true, what can I say, I'm totally stroked, I'm excited to be part of this awesome tour, and sharing the stage with killer bands like LAMB OF GOD or HATEBREED... It's awesome. We're playing at the same festival with OZZY OSBOURNE, and delivering the craziest and most insane heavy music known to mankind to all this crowd who might not know what to expect from BEHEMOTH. It gives us more power, it's going to be crazy and I can't wait to start that tour!
The entire interview is available at this location.