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We Are Not Storytellers

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We Are Not Storytellers


Ever the provocateur, Darski would much rather see what different people make of his striking imagery instead of providing a narrative that is easy for listeners to comprehend.

There’s an unmistakable chemistry between the three members, and it’s discernable on such instantly memorable tracks as “Daimonos” and the viciously catchy “Ov Fire and the Void”, the overall feel reminiscent of Demigod standouts “Conquer All” and “Slaves Shall Serve”, yet at the same time, more refined.


“We do this tour now, and we play ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ which is a brand new song, and there is something about it,” Darski says. “[It] sounds much better, much tighter than songs we’ve played 500 times so far, like ‘Decade of Therion’ or ‘Demigod’. Those songs are sloppy, and we can never play them super-tight, but ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ is just tight as fuck. On a songwriting level, that’s what happens, they are very smartly, intelligently put together, so it’s the right balance between the song being groovy and catchy and at the same time not being primitive, feeling ambitious.


Essential Extreme Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces (Da Capo) Rating: 9 Decibel magazine’s monthly Hall of Fame series has grown into its most popular feature, and now 25 articles have been compiled and expanded by editor Albert Mudrian, offering readers a valuable history lesson in the evolution of metal music, from Heaven and Hell, to Reign in Blood, to In the Nightside Eclipse, to Jane Doe. Featuring the full participation of every band’s members, we get to hear the stories in their own words, and it’s nothing short of enthralling, absolutely essential reading for any metal fan. Bergraven: Till Makabert Väsen (Hydra Head) Rating: 7 Pär Gustafsson returns with his follow-up to 2007’s fascinating Dödsvisioner, and to no one’s surprise, it’s another slab of weirdo art metal, fitting somewhere between the experimental sounds of Deathspell Omega, the dissonant arrangements of Captain Beefheart, and the progressive mindset of Opeth and Enslaved. It’s completely overblown and self-absorbed, but then again, what do you expect from a one-man studio project on Hydra Head? Bizarre, but never for a second dull. Iron Age: The Sleeping Eye (Tee Pee) Rating: 8 Don’t let the hardcore label on their MySpace fool you, Austin’s Iron Age is metal through and through, and their second album is an absolute beast. One second they’re channeling classic Bay Area thrash, the next they’re getting their early Celtic Frost on, and the next they’re unleashing killer, crunchy riffs a la Anthrax circa 1984, all with a flamboyance that few young bands can muster. If you dig fellow hardcore crossovers Saviours and Bison B.C., you will love this one.

“We don’t want to play stuff that’s going to be too challenging live,” he adds. “I think it kind of happens subconsciously, too. With the increase of experience, we just write better songs. It’s not like we sit and analyze, ‘Okay, how about writing this song so it’s going to be easy to perform live,’ we never do this.


It’s a lot of spontaneity, it’s like a volcano of different vibes and emotions. There’s definitely a very intellectual approach to what we do, but there’s also a huge Dionysian approach to it too, all hell breaks loose, it’s out of control. What we always try to do is just control it.”


No question, Behemoth is in full command of its craft on Evangelion. Never one to overdo things, Nergal’s guitar-playing style is always more direct than flamboyant, often sounding like the work of a craftsman than a virtuoso, but what these nine tracks lack in face-melting technical prowess is made up for by the sheer charisma of the towering riffs and serpentine solos.


A fine example is the stately “Alas, Lord is Upon Me”, which follows the example of Gojira in slowing down the pace enough to let the classy melody of that central riff carry the bulk of the track. Even better, though, is the eight-minute closing track “Lucifer”, one of the slowest songs Behemoth has ever recorded, and according to Darski, one of the easiest to write.


“It was a very spontaneous song,” he says. “I just came up with the riff two weeks before we even entered the studio, so the song wasn’t even meant to be on the record. It just came out very natural. I just started jamming out this riff, the guys picked it up, and it grew into a fucking-eight minute monster.


This song definitely stands out, not just out of Evangelion, but maybe all Behemoth albums. It’s a big song, very epic. The lyrics are in Polish too, which makes it even more special and exotic for foreigners to listen to. The lyrics are actually a poem from this guy called Tadeusz Micinski, who used to live a hundred years ago.”


Although he clearly puts a lot of thought into his lyrics, which tackle the oft-overdone anti-Christian gimmick with a much more thoughtful, less cartoonish approach than other bands, Darski, ever the provocateur, would much rather see what different people make of his striking imagery instead of providing a narrative that is easy for listeners to comprehend.


“I really hate analyzing my own songs,” he admits. “You tell me about the song, I want to know from you what you think about the song. Of course, I will give descriptions, with every song you’re going to find a statement, and once I did that I’m like, ‘You know what, you tell me, what’s your interpretation of this song?’ Because everyone has his own.


“We’re not storytellers. So I cannot tell you that this song is about this guy who went there and did this and came back. It’s just expression. It’s energy. It’s millions of thoughts, it’s chaos. So when someone asks me what the song is about, I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’


I just channel a certain energy into the words and the riffs, and that’s what it is, I know nothing else about it. I’m just trying to materialize it by playing it live, to bring it into the next dimension, and that’s it. Once the album is done and I give it to all the people, my role is over. I’ve done my job.”


In their home country, Behemoth continues to be a source of controversy, whether it’s being pursued, Wile E. Coyote style, by one Richard Nowak, head of the All-Polish Committee for Defence against Sects, who takes offense to the band’s defiantly anti-Catholic stance, or Darski’s relationship with pop singer Dorota “Doda” Rabczewska. However, he’s been around enough by now to not let either demagogues or the paparazzi get in his way. Besides, if it’ll get people talking about the band even more than they already are, then Darski will gladly take it.


“Ever since I started dating this pop star, that’s when all hell breaks loose, you know,” he laughs. “All these heavy metal fans are like ‘What the fuck.’ So I guess we are even more controversial than ever, but of course as you can see, we don’t give a fuck, we are who we are. Nothing’s going to change that, it’s not going to affect our music.


We are dedicated, we’re passionate about what we do. We really are an example of people in a band that follow the Crowleyan rule, ‘Do what thou wilt.’ We make our own rules, our own law, and we basically don’t bend to anything or anyone. That’s awesome, you know. There’s no compromising here.”


 

Adrien Begrand has been writing for PopMatters since 2002, and has been writing his monthly metal column Blood & Thunder since 2005. His writing has also appeared in Metal Edge, Sick Sounds, Metallian, graphic novelist Joel Orff's Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock 'n' Roll, Knoxville Voice, The Kerouac Quarterly, JackMagazine.com, StylusMagazine.com, and StaticMultimedia.com. A contributing writer for Decibel, Terrorizer, and Dominion magazines and senior writer for Hellbound, he resides, blogs, and does the Twitter thing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


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