Nergal, ‘Confessions of a Heretic’ – Book Review
Confessions of a Heretic is not a biography detailing everything in Behemoth frontman Nergal's life from birth to the present. Rather, the book takes on an interview format that sometimes feels like an interrogation, as his longtime associates Krzysztof Azarewicz and Piotr Weltrowski grill him with various questions.
Intentionally antagonistic, the questions are designed to provoke Nergal's responses and confirm his convictions. Often times these questions are presented in ways that can trip up Nergal and make him eat his own words, but that never happens. All opportunities to slam individual people and groups of them alike are dismissed with a "do what thou wilt" mentality that conveys the mindset of a true Satanist.
Confessions of a Heretic is largely philosophical as the Behemoth frontman weighs in on various subjects from touring, women, life, death and being an A-list celebrity in Poland. The latter portion might be the most revelatory to fans who do not live in the country, despite knowing about his appearances on Poland's "The Voice" and his former relationship with native pop star Doda. Nergal details multiple encounters with the paparazzi, initially due to his status with Doda. This morphed into staggering popularity on his own accord, which led to the paparazzi even trying to capture his state in the hospital while battling leukemia.
While staring death in the face, many in Poland thought Nergal would finally accept God, but the Behemoth frontman remained steadfast in his convictions and the battle against cancer only strengthened what he already believed.
Religion is a domineering force in Poland, which certainly sees Nergal casting a unique shadow over the country, polarizing the citizens with the dichotomy of all-around good guy who happens to be a Satanist. However, Confessions of a Heretic demonstrates the positive morality of true Satanism, which is often ignorantly confused with actual worshipping of the horned ruler of the Christian netherworld.
Satanism is foremost about the ego, which Nergal expresses countless times throughout the interview. Everything is done to satisfy himself, but that doesn't necessarily mean at the detriment of others. Again, when presented with the chance to denounce other people or groups of people, Nergal takes the high road and either respectfully declines comment or expounds upon his clarifications.
Confessions of a Heretic makes for a quick and fascinating read, especially given the format. During the responses, readers may often formulate questions they themselves would ask next, only to find that Azarewicz asks them as well. Upon completion, fans will have a deep understanding of the man behind the paint, serving as a connection most artists will never be able to make with their fans in one fell swoop.
It should be noted that the English edition of 'Confessions of a Heretic' varies slightly from the original Polish edition, as author Mark Eglinton worked closely with Nergal in tweaking the book in order to "capture the imagination" of an English speaking audience.