Vital Vinyl: Nergal Opens Up About Behemoth’s History, ‘The Satanist’ + More
It's hard to talk to any metal fan about new music without the conversation quickly turning to Behemoth's 10th studio album, 'The Satanist.' Released earlier this year, 'The Satanist' is already being hailed as one of the best albums of 2014. In addition to the music, Behemoth made sure that the vinyl experience built around the album would be one of the best of the year as well. With many different color variations, a unique album cover and a 12-inch, 24-page book, 'The Satanist' is an album that should find its way into your collection soon if it hasn't already.
"The world is becoming more and more digitalized," Behemoth frontman and founding member Nergal tells Loudwire in an exclusive chat about all things vinyl. "To us artists, we try to balance the tendency to put up formats that are lacking quality. You can’t really say anything about quality with mp3s. People appreciate it, it’s useful. I’ve got plenty of music on my iPhone, but on the other hand, I still buy LPs. I buy CDs. I appreciate booklets. It’s an extension of our art, it’s an extension of our message. The mp3 format is not, period."
It's obvious that Nergal is passionate about the format, but that passion doesn't just stem from his concern for quality. "I myself am a huge LP fan and collector. I love to have all possible editions of my own records, that’s actually what gives me a boner," he says. "For a lot of aesthetic reasons, I truly love it." There's no question that 'The Satanist' has a lot of aesthetic appeal, starting with the vinyl-specific album cover.
Created by artist Denis Forkas, the artwork for 'The Satanist' is equally beautiful as it is terrifying. First coming across his work on Facebook, it didn't take long for Nergal to connect with Forkas in Moscow. In fact, Nergal will be heading back to Moscow very soon to purchase the original piece of art used for 'The Satanist.' One of the many reasons that the Behemoth frontman feels he must own the art is that he is a part of it. "I would hate for him to give it away or sell it to a third party, it’s a piece that contains my blood," Nergal explains about the art. Forkas actually used Nergal's blood as part of his paint. "I kind of dedicated my blood to this art and to help others feel the meaning of the message. But at the end of the day, it belongs to me so I need to buy it back. That’s what I’m doing."
The artwork is part of the overall experience and without it, fans can't do the music justice. Of course, the cover never looks better than on the high-quality 12-inch jacket of the vinyl release. Nergal emphatically tells us, "I think the LP version of 'The Satanist' is the most complete version." Another part of the experience lies within the massive book contained in the jacket. Fans get 24 pages of artwork, lyrics and more, all enhancing the journey when listening to 'The Satanist.'
For a lot of metal fans, 'The Satanist' is not their first experience with Behemoth. In fact, the band's debut full-length, 'Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic),' laid a foundation for the band nearly 20 years ago. Undergoing several different releases since its debut in 1995, 'Sventevith' was most recently reissued on the Metal Mind label via MVD Entertainment Group. As proud as Nergal is of 'The Satanist' - he calls it "the biggest Behemoth record that has ever been created" - he still has a lot of appreciation for his band's debut.
"I’m very sentimental about our very first releases. I respect them. They’re my children, so I’ll never reject them," he states. "I was like 16 or 17 when recording 'Sventevith,' I had no experience whatsoever, I was just a kid who had all the passion of this world for his music and this genre. I just wanted to live it. When I get time to listen to ‘Sventevith,’ it has its value and it really hasn’t lost it throughout the years. There’s an old-school group of Behemoth fans who think ‘Sventevith’ is our magnum opus. I respect that. Part of me, part of my history, part of the band’s history, is kind of underrated."
Any band can release their music on vinyl, but it takes an intentional effort to embrace the true experience of what it means to be a real part of that medium. It's a combination of many things, including the quality of wax, the artwork, the extras and of course, the music. But when a band has such a strong affinity to their history as well, it takes the experience to a new level. Not only can fans enjoy Behemoth's latest endeavor, but they have the opportunity to get their hands on 'Sventevith,' a stripped-down and raw album that connects everything Behemoth has done - and will do - in their career.
Wrapping up the chat, Nergal tells us, "People either like Behemoth or they don’t. I actually hope we’re not part of any genre, I hope we’re creating something very, very unique." It's safe to say that Behemoth are doing just that, and the amount of effort and dedication they put into all of their vinyl releases only helps to enhance that unique experience.
If you haven't yet, get your hands on 'The Satanist' as soon as you can. Sold-out via Metal Blade Records since before it was released, check in with your local record store to secure a copy. The latest reissue of 'Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)' is out now via MVD and housed in a heavy-duty jacket with a printed inner sleeve. Get the record that started it all for Behemoth right here.
Behemoth, 'The Satanist'
Behemoth, 'Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)'