[More first-person metal accounts from resident metalhead Andrew Epstein. – AC]
Shot and edited by Aaron Mandel
The last time I spoke with frontman Nergal from Poland’s Behemoth in 2009, he told me that he wasn’t very popular in his home country. Unlike many of its neighbours, and despite producing some of the genre’s best bands, extreme metal music doesn’t seem as popular in Poland. Looking at an old appearance from a Polish chat show, Nergal seems at odds with mainstream culture, no matter how hard they try to understand him.
But since then Nergal’s profile at home has exploded. Many have attributed this rush of interest to his relationship with pop-star Doda and his brief involvement with the Polish version of TV talent-show “The Voice”. This seemed a bit absurd to me, as Behemoth’s music at its most accessible is undeniably extreme and utterly indigestible to a pop audience.
At the same time it hasn’t always been easy. Nergal was twice brought up on charges of insulting the Roman Catholic Church for tearing up a bible on-stage, a crime with a maximum two-year sentence. As well Behemoth was put on hold in 2010 when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
So it was with all this in mind that I sat down with Nergal before his Toronto headlining set on the Metal Alliance tour to talk about his increased profile at home, and the unique circumstances both bad and good that have made Behemoth one of the world’s most well-known and consistent extreme acts.