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Putting to the torch any pre-conceived ideas about what heavy music ‘should’ be, Nergal - one of the most infamous and uncompromising personalities in extreme music – further blazes his own path with Me and That Man.
Heavy music has often been at its most potent when it has aimed for something beyond the ordinary, something transformative and liberating. In the last few decades, few musicians in the metal world have been more consistently and persistently dedicated to those noble goals than Behemoth founder and frontman Nergal. Over 25 years and ten studio albums, Behemoth have become one of the most legendary and increasingly successful bands in the history of extreme music. Meanwhile, Nergal himself has tread a road that few would dare to walk - arrested on charges of blasphemy in his native Poland, authoring a bestselling book “Confessions Of A Heretic”, and titling Behemoth’s last album “The Satanist”- but in true contrarian fashion, appearing as a judge on Poland’s version of The Voice, and as the cover of Polish Newsweek, and more. And again, Nergal is about to shatter any preconceptions people may have about his creative vision.
A newly-formed collaboration with renowned British/Polish rock musician John Porter, Me and That Man reveals a possibly unexpected, but no less sinister, direction for Nergal. Me and That Man’s debut album is a dark journey through sun-bleached, dusty plains, soundtracked by low-slung acoustic guitars and steeped in the rawest essence of rock and blues. The duo’s debut album, ‘Songs Of Love And Death’ will doubtless prove a revelatory affair for Behemoth’s huge global fan base, while simultaneously luring many more people into Nergal’s artistic world.
Erupting into glowering, doom-laden life with the rousing, malevolent hymn of ‘My Church Is Black’, ‘Songs Of Love And Death’ is an album of simple but timeless ideas, all filtered through Nergal’s pitch-black poetic prism. Fans of everything from Nick Cave, Danzig, Leonard Cohen, and Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, through to the grim, frontier polemic of Wovenhand will find countless mesmerizing moments within these songs: from the sing-along macabre of ‘Shaman Blues’ and the hellish Bo Diddley stomp of ‘On The Road’ to the bleak balladry of ‘Ain’t Much Lovin’’ and ‘Cross My Heart And Hope To Die’’s woozy necro-spiritual, these are songs that may echo the adversarial attitude of Nergal’s work with Behemoth, but this is a far less complex beast and one that demands an instinctive gut reaction. A different tributary off of the same dark river that feeds Behemoth.
“This album is not meant to turn Me and That Man fans into Behemoth fans,” Nergal notes. “If one day they follow, OK. Something like ‘My Church Is Black’ is a strong declaration, a song that naturally invites people from the extreme metal world, and perhaps they’ll want to enter this world too. They might even like it. With Me and That Man, I’m telling simple stories in a simple way, not overloaded with metaphors and hidden meanings. It’s just got to be as natural, organic and stripped down as it can be.”
With its stark, brutal title - a purposeful nod towards Leonard Cohen’s classic 1971 album ‘Songs Of Love & Hate’ – and its core of gritty, swaggering sonic rawness, Me and That Man’s debut album may seem a million miles away from what Nergal is best known for, but as far as he is concerned, this is just another necessary and vital part of his creative life: a new way to express the same ideas of individualism, defiance and darkness, but in an entirely unfamiliar context, all underpinned by a thrilling sense of musical freedom.
“Of course, this is totally different from Behemoth. With Me and That Man the songs come out in a very organic way,” Nergal states. “I just go with the mood, to get the flow. The songs just kept coming. One would be bluesy, one would be more ballad-ish… but put together they all made sense. I need Me and That Man to keep the balance, as the potential of my mother band seems limitless. It gets bigger and bigger, and more advanced and more sophisticated... and darker ...and blacker. But Me and That Man is at the opposite pole, artistically speaking. With all the best art, once you have it in you, you have to release it; otherwise it becomes intoxicating and dangerous to your own system. This is how I deal with my emotions and my dark feelings and shadows. This is not happy music, but it’s liberating. I’m opening up to new dimensions and new angles, and exploring the unknown is just thrilling.”
With plans to tour Europe and the US in 2017, Me and That Man is the exhilarating sound of one of metal’s most fascinating and charismatic artists flexing a few new artistic muscles and tugging aggressively at heavy music’s dark, primitive and epoch-defining roots.
“This is a side-project, but I don’t really know what it’s going to grow into,” Nergal concludes. The idea was just to get this music out to people. There’s no hidden agenda. It is what it is, and if you like it, it’s cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too. This is the battle we have already won.”