WORDS: SEAN HUBBARD
Legendary Behemoth frontman Nergal is no stranger to a bit of controversy and certainly loves completely subverting expectations, however to most Behemoth fans the new Me And That Man album New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol 1 is an even bigger change of pace than usual. Blending elements of country, blues, classic rock and even a nod to his extreme metal roots. This is the second Me And That Man record, following 2017’s debut Songs of Love and Death, but the Polish black metal icon feels that this follow up is a true loosening of his creative taps.
Having parted ways with folk musicians John Porter who was Nergal’s collaborator on the first album, Nergal has instead enlisted the help of a star studded lineup that contains Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Trivium’s Matt Heafy, Entombed’s Nicke Andersson and Madrugada’s Sivert Høyem alongside many more. While joking that the most difficult artists to get hold of were “the guys who bailed on me,” and revealing that Ville Valo from HIM was initially supposed to take Høyem’s spot on ‘Coming Home,’ the Behemoth vocalist also revealed his gratitude to Corey Taylor for getting on board with the project, describing him as “the busiest man in the music business.” Nergal revealed that Taylor texted him just two weeks before the deadline for closing the record to confirm his involvement, and within 48 hours Corey had sent over the trails that “he absolutely nailed.”
“Behemoth owes Corey and Slipknot a lot, and I owe him personally with Me And That Man for bringing so much attention to such a niche band.”
Nergal definitely felt that Corey had a huge impact on the visibility of this record – and indeed on Nergal’s career as a whole; saying “Behemoth owes Corey and Slipknot a lot, and I owe him personally with Me And That Man for bringing so much attention to such a niche band.” Despite the A-List of names however Nergal was realistic with his ambitions, as “it’s not my intention to go mainstream, it’s a very niche project with a gang of good guys having a good time playing bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. We aren’t projected to sell thousands of records, but at the end of the day you never know because music is monkey business!”
Titling this album as Volume 1 might looks ambitious to some, but Nergal has every intention of carrying on, and it also serves as a description of the differences from the debut, revealing: “To me it was obvious when John was out we had to redefine the formula. For me it had to be something that people would be like ‘what the fuck is this?’ With the gang we have now and all the names on the record it has the wow! effect on everyone, and they’re like ‘how did you manage to get all these guys on one record?’
“It’s not my intention to go mainstream, it’s a very niche project with a gang of good guys having a good time playing bluesy rock ‘n’ roll.”
Of course the rest of the title is also “New Man, New Songs, Same Shit” to which Nergal feels that the ‘same shit’ could refer to anything, but personally “to me it means there are new people in the band and new songs, but hey we aren’t reinventing the wheel, we’re doing a similar thing and having fun.”
The bluesy nature of the record lulls listeners into a fake sense of security however, almost forgetting that this is the brainchild of a man who has been at the forefront of extreme metal for the best part of three decades, and that aspect of his personality is unleashed in the closing moments of final song ‘Confession,’ where the spaghetti western is drowned out by some absolutely brutal blastbeats. This abrupt transition was “an affirmation of the versatility of this project. It’s so open and so multi-faceted,” and serves as the perfect example of a band that Nergal describes as the musical equivalent of “sitting in a car, hitting the highway and seeing where the road takes us.”
There are quite clearly no rules to Me And That Man, with this album including everything from the aforementioned blastbeats to a legendary black metal frontman singing a shanty song entitled ‘Burning Churches’ alongside some of the biggest names in metal. Quite clearly, Nergal may have the same shit alongside some new songs on this album, but it is that same shit that makes him the legendary character he is today.