A band slaves for decades, releases seminal work, conquers world. Then thud. Abrupt halt.
In the case of Poland’s Behemoth, the brakes took the form of leukemia, with which bandleader Nergal was diagnosed in 2010. Instead of viewing it as a death sentence, the blackened death metallers bounced back with The Satanist.
“We went through this whole dark period of Nergal being sick, and we all learned to appreciate what we have and who we are much more,” explains bassist Orion from Eastern Europe. “We started writing the new album, and it was just flawless – very, very smooth. We quit asking any questions. We just wanted to have us, and our blood on this record. We wanted to be very human.
“We’re imperfect as people, as musicians. So we just let this record be imperfect, and somehow we managed to do it the right way. Even the recording process itself was very different from what we used to do before. Most of the tracks recorded are the first take. There’s not many overdubs on it. It’s just us, as imperfect as we are.”
Between Nergal’s recovery and The Satanist, there was another detour for Behemoth: the frontman serving as a judge on the first season of Poland’s The Voice.
“Taking him as a judge was a good choice,” notes Orion. “There was a huge amount of spectators willing to see him on it. The way we see it, as long as we can put our views and ways of expression into the mainstream media, we just do it. So him accepting the offer, that was strange for us at the beginning, but it ended up being quite a good thing for the band, and him also. The funny thing is, his guy won the whole thing.”– Michael Toland