Book Review: Read My Lips
A lavish diary of Poland's black metal breakout Behemoth, and a book-length Q&A defense of frontman Adam Darski
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., May 29, 2015
Behemoth: Devil's Conquistadorsby Lukasz Dunaj
Metal Blade, 487 pp., $29.99
Confessions of a Heretic: The Sacred and the Profane – Behemoth and Beyondby Adam Nergal Darski, with Mark Eglinton, Krzysztof Azarewicz & Piotr Weltrowski
Jawbone Press, 288 pp., $19.95 (paper)
Behold the age of blackened death. Twenty-five years for the former color drain, 30 turns the latter decay. Both disciplines institutionalize no less than pagan, hair, and heavy – metal. 1998's landmark Lords of Chaos tolls Scandinavian terrorism and homicide in the name of black metal, while Decibel magazine's Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore revises anew its dialectic of heavy metal gone zombie. Together, a pair of new translations from Polish, Devil's Conquistadors and Confessions of a Heretic, fuse the two distinct genres in the name of one Adam Nergal Darksi. No quotation marks around Nergal. The corpse-painted Behemoth frontman that friends and bandmates call Ner legally adopted his metal moniker. Typically Polish graphic design razes eyeballs in the first scripture, nearly 500 pages about a black metal cultist that rose above the gladiatorial fray of Christian deniers to achieve worldwide acclaim by crossing over into death metal. Lukasz Dunaj fast-forwards the Eastern bloc, post-Communism teen's first cassette over more than two decades to last year's 10th album, The Satanist, recorded after Darksi beat leukemia by finding a bone marrow transplant donor via legions of metalheads. Only the very briefest of sycophant segues glue together a heroic oral history worthy of ancient hieroglyphs. Mesopotamian deity of war, pestilence, and the underworld, Nergal the First now cedes his throne to a modern-day headbanger. Confessions of a Heretic fills in all the personal data necessarily missing from Devil's Conquistadors, with almost 300 pages of Q&A dialogued with confidants after Darski gained infamy in Poland for a) becoming a target of politically motivated religious persecution; b) tabloid dating; and c) appearing as a coach on his country's The Voice. The autobiographical intent of Confessions sharpens the Gdansk-reared (and still -based) singer/guitarist's well-traveled insights – "[The U.S. is] strange country. You can go to jail for drinking a beer on the street, yet everyone carries a weapon" – and anecdotes, such as being shot at on tour: "It happened in Texas." Behemoth's theatre of the extreme blasts 800 combined pages of blackened death metal like Gabriel blowing Armageddon.