We Need to Talk about Nergal

I’m a pretty big fan of Behemoth, for the last ten years or so I’ve been avidly buying albums and headbanging along to the music. I have loved Behemoth for more than just the music, I love the thought and detail that Nergal and co have put into their work. Everything from the lyrics to the instruments are unique. That’s not to say that some things have been overproduced and some sounds have been sterilized but that is something that is a possibility after so many albums. The culture surrounding Behemoth and the nonmusical ventures that they participate in can be a little head scratching but I’ve never been one to cry “sell out!” because of them.

Let’s take a look at Me and that Man, the newest musical project from Nergal. It’s a bluesy, country, gothic project that explores a different area of Nergal’s psyche that he can’t necessarily go to with Behemoth. Being that I’ve slowly been getting into the gothic blues and death country genres over the past seven months, naturally this was something I was excited about. I knew it wasn’t going to sound anything like Behemoth and I was eager to find out how Nergal would spin his normal esoteric, anti-Christian narrative here.

Then we got a teaser, a snippet of what the project was going to sound like and, just as I knew and Nergal had said over and over, the music and sound was nothing like Behemoth; the spirit might have been the same, but the spirit was encased in something almost completely alien. And true to form, there have been fans that have screamed and whined and decried Nergal as a sellout and complained that Me and that Man is nothing like Behemoth. While I knew it was inevitable, my question is why? Why do fans expect things like music to never change? Why do we get upset and snarky over the idea of “Behemoth Communion Wafers” (an idea I immediately felt was awesome and ridiculous at the same time)? It seems like fans believe that once a band has started on a certain path, that path cannot deviate according to their dictates. Any side project from the leader of the band must be in line with the main project, it must have a connection. But why? I’m not asking these questions because I have answers, far from it, nor am I asking because I actually think I will get an answer, I am merely asking so that people will think about it, question it when they see it, maybe then, as a whole, we can formulate an answer.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy Me and the Man, it’s a rough, nasty version of Johnny Cash. While Johnny is like a rich bourbon, Me and that Man is a shot of harsh Polish vodka. It will kick you in the gut as it burns its way down but it makes you feel alive. Nergal recently put up an “Inspired by” playlist on Spotify to allow fans a look inside his head, to see where all the influences came from and how the idea of Me and that Man came about.

If you want listen to Me and that Man, that’s great, I love what I’ve heard and I can’t wait for the full length album, but if it’s not for you, that’s great too. Music is cool that way.

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