Behemoth's Nergal on The Satanist, the underground and Leukemia

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In the latest issue of Metal Hammer we crowned Behemoth’s The Satanist as our album of 2014 as voted for by Metal Hammer writers. Here the Metal Hammer Radio Show chatted to frontman Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski about the accolade, as well as the early days and his recent health battles. You can listen to the full interview On Demand.

**2014 has been a pretty eventful year for you, obviously with the release of The Satanist and perhaps most recently the crowning of the Metal Hammer Critics’ Album Of The Year, congratulations. **

“Well, I’m like speechless about it, and I still don’t know what to say. Behemoth has been around for like over twenty years and in our wildest dreams we would never have dreamt of reaching this many peaks in our career. You know, this many mountains that we’ve reached and this Metal Hammer award is yet another one, and it’s amazing. It feels great, it feels very flattering and I love it.

“All we thought was, when making this record, was just our own aspirations and just us. We did it for ourselves pretty much. Then all of a sudden, you do something 100% for yourself, because you want to be totally fulfilled and happy, and satisfied with, and then you pass it over to people, and then they decide to crown it as the best record of our career – which is unheard of, this tenth album in our discography. I’d say that a majority of fans already claim it the best Behemoth album and to be the best album of 2014, is just amazing. I feel honoured, really honoured.”

Well, the honour is ours, it’s a fantastic album and the consensus was certainly there among all of our critics at least, and I think all the fans, certainly a great album. Obviously a band coming from the underground such as yourselves, has probably had an uneasy relationship with the press historically and so on. Do you remember the first thing that was written about you? The first time you saw a printed word related to what you did?

“Not the first print, but I’ve got like images in my head now of first interviews, the first features that Behemoth was in, and I don’t really remember the very first one. It must have been some small zine from Poland writing about death metal, and extreme metal and black metal, so, no it was like ’91, late ’91.”

Bands from that world can have an uneasy relationship with mainstream and sometimes you might say broader acknowledgement in the media. Is that an uneasy relationship for you? Is that something you’ve ever had difficulty dealing with? The idea of Behemoth getting bigger and bigger?

“Well, back in the day probably yes but you can’t grow just staying in a cellar and just playing on shitty equipment. You need to expand, and expansion is one of our main driving forces and driving rules in our bands philosophy so to speak. So, let’s break boundaries, let’s go further than the eye can see and let’s where it is going to take us. It’s actually funny you know because, obviously we get some shit from some so-called die hards, then simultaneously they would just claim Venom or Bathory, being their biggest inspirations. Then when you look back at Venom or Bathory, both bands really did try hard, and both actually managed to become mainstream at some point. Venom selling out Hammersmith, like 5-10,000 seaters. It’s not underground anymore, or the other option, the other way of interpretation is, this music is underground in its nature, and even if it reaches a million buyers of the album, or let’s say 100,000 people visit us at the festival, it still doesn’t change the nature of the music. Be it like ten people in the crowd, or 100,000 people in the crowd, it doesn’t change shit. As long as the band is honest and sincere, and just sticks to its guns, that’s it.”

You’ve previously talked about working out. I imagine one who’s been through so much health-wise has probably developed a different relationship than most people have with their bodies and just like in terms of health and outlook and all that. How has that experience of Leukaemia transformed your relationship with yourself?

“Well, I take good care of myself, just staying in shape, and catching my eight/nine hour sleeping routine, and eating healthy and good food, and just eating rationally, and so on, and so on… I could go on like forever. Ever since I got sick and when I realised what I’ve been through and I’ve learned to connect with myself on a deeper level.

“I wrote a song called As Above, So Below, and I think it took me years to realise what the song is all about. I think I’m definitely closer to it just being more at peace with myself – what’s within and what’s outside, if you know what I’m trying to say. It’s pretty difficult to explain it but, I think many problems, health issues and stuff, are caused by the fact in what we are doing – there is a contradiction between what’s going on deep in your heart. What are your goals in your life and what you actually do in your life? It’s this crucial question, ‘who I am?’ ‘Why I’m here?’ ‘What’s my goal?’ I think I’m much closer to finding this path and I’m more peaceful with myself, and I don’t need to struggle anymore, or if I struggle I know how to handle it in a much better way.”

You can LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW ON DEMAND for Nergal’s thoughts on AC/DC and the ongoing troubles with Phil Rudd.