Australian Guitar - - Contents - PHO­TOS BY ALYSSA HOW­ELL.

Ner­gal ex­plains why LP11 is the peak of his elu­sive, yet al­ways erup­tive artistry.

At this point, we’re con­vinced Adam “Ner­gal” Darski doesn’t sleep – he sucks power from the body of a de­mon he en­slaved when it tried to drag him back to Hell (his cre­ator, Satan him­self, had some words about that time he hosted TheVoice) and uses that power to fuel his ever-elu­sive artistry.

Since 1991, Be­he­moth have been churn­ing out some of the most ven­omous, vis­ceral and vi­o­lently pow­er­ful mu­sic in black metal his­tory. Yet, it was their 2018 ef­fort, ILovedYouAtYourDark­est (their 11th al­bum over­all) that saw them truly reach their peak with a stun­ning spate of strings, at­mo­spher­ics and the de­monic gui­tar crunch we’ve come to know and love.

As we speak, Ner­gal and co. are pack­ing their suit­cases for a stupidly over­due re­turn to Aus­tralia. The Pol­ish unit will be tear­ing shit up on their big­gest stages yet at the 2019 Down­load Fes­ti­val, but be­fore they leave pun­ters with per­ma­nently dropped jaws (book those den­tist ap­point­ments in ad­vance, folks), we got Ner­gal on the phone to chat about the new gui­tar you’ll see him wield on­stage, and dig a lit­tle deeper into the enigma that is ILovedYouAtYourDark­est.

Just from the ti­tle alone, there’s the no­tion that this al­bum is a bold and ma­jor state­ment for the band. Why do you think this record is the per­fect re­flec­tion of what Be­he­moth rep­re­sent in 2018?

It’s just an im­mensely sin­cere record. There was no room for us to fool around with it – it’s ex­actly the record that we needed to do. It’s pretty un­com­pro­mis­ing, too. I’m sure peo­ple ex­pect that kind of record from us at this point, which is proof that we just fol­low our in­stincts and our in­tu­ition.

We play what­ever is play­ing in our hearts, in­stead of look­ing around and see­ing what the lat­est trends are, or try­ing to guess what our fans might want us to do. We just want to be hon­est. And the re­sponse from our fans has

been pretty awe­some as well, so I’m happy that the hon­esty pays off.

How do you keep things feel­ing fresh, hon­est and orig­i­nal af­ter 27 years and 11 al­bums?

I don’t know if we’re orig­i­nal at all. All I know is that we’re hon­est. I’m not here to rein­vent the wheel, y’know? I mean, it’s al­ready there. So the ques­tion now is how we can ap­proach it in an hon­est way and how we’re go­ing to use it. The wheel has al­ready been in­vented, but you can still use it in a very unique way – that’s how I see what we do with our metal. But is it orig­i­nal? I don’t think so, but it is ours. It sounds like Be­he­moth, and Be­he­moth sounds like no other band on the planet. That’s a feel­ing I’ll al­ways stand by.

So how did you want to spin that wheel in a new way on Dark­est?

When we were mak­ing it, I just felt way more lib­er­ated. It felt like I could do pretty much what­ever I wanted with our sound. I wanted to take that as far as I could, and I think the record shows that. It’s a pretty ad­ven­tur­ous record for Be­he­moth – there’s stuff that we’ve never done be­fore, like some of the tem­pos, the beats, the melodies, the vo­cals… It’s all pretty new to us.

There’s a lot of cleaner gui­tar sounds on this al­bum – you’re not just drown­ing ev­ery­thing in dis­tor­tion for the sake of sound­ing bru­tal. Is that a chal­lenge you like tak­ing on, to make the gui­tar sound as de­struc­tive as you can with­out tak­ing any short­cuts?

Is it a chal­lenge. It’s much more dif­fi­cult to play one note straight for a longer pe­riod – to play at a slower pace and keep it up at a new tempo, and just do it well with­out be­ing sloppy. It’s much eas­ier to be sloppy and just hide all your mis­takes when you play a lot of notes at a su­per fast tempo. And that’s some­thing I’ve learned through­out the years. When you lis­ten to the al­bum, you might think, “Oh, it’s so easy.” Well, it sounds easy, but it’s ac­tu­ally more chal­leng­ing to play that than it would be to play some of the cra­zier and heav­ier parts.

It’s a lit­eral ap­proach to the age-old phrase, “Less is more.”

Yeah, and I think that’s some­thing we all learn even­tu­ally. And I like it. These days, some­times all I need is just one f***ing note, man! I’ll grab a chord and just let it sting, y’know what I mean? I en­joy that mo­ment. And I mean, it’s re­ally all about dy­nam­ics.

There’s a lot of dy­nam­ics on this record. On the one hand, you have these very sim­ple struc­tures, but they’re con­structed with stuff that is ab­so­lutely f***ing wild. And then there’s some­thing very prim­i­tive, but it’ll be fol­lowed by some­thing very pro­gres­sive and com­pli­cated. Then, there are these high-gain mo­ments that are full of this acous­tic, al­most crunchy gui­tar sound.

When I lis­ten to the Rolling Stones or The Bea­tles, or AC/DC or Me­tal­lica, there’s al­ways a lot of dy­nam­ics at play. It’s never flat. And on most metal records, it’s su­per flat. And I don’t like that! Metal is a part of rock mu­sic, so I want our mu­sic to be dy­namic in that way. We are ex­treme, but we are also a part of the rock genre. I wanted this al­bum to sound like a rock al­bum.

So in essence, Be­he­moth are the Rolling Stones of black metal.

Well, I f***ing hope I’m not the Keith Richards of black metal [ laughs]. Nah, I saw the Rolling Stones live re­cently and they were amaz­ing. Ask me that ques­tion in 15 years – if we’re still around and we’re re­leas­ing our 60th al­bum at that point, then I’ll ad­mit we’re the Rolling Stones of black metal.

You re­cently came out with this new ESP Sig­na­ture Ner­gal-6 gui­tar. What’s the ori­gin story be­hind it?

It’s not re­ally a new model. Some peo­ple are even dis­ap­pointed by it – they’re say­ing, “Ah, it’s just the clas­sic Gib­son shape. We miss the V, blah, blah, blah.” But I’m like, “Y’know what? For this new sound, and for this new mu­sic that we have, I’d rather go with some­thing like that.”

And then it’s not re­ally new to me ei­ther be­cause I used that kind of shape dur­ing the Demigod era – I did months of tour­ing us­ing these Gib­son-in­spired shapes from ESP, and I liked them a lot. I switched to the V-shaped gui­tars af­ter­wards, and that was cool for that pe­riod, and now I’m just us­ing both. With this clas­sic shape, it just re­ally suits the mu­sic. It looks beau­ti­ful – it’s matte black and it has some very small or­na­ments here and there… It just looks very classy. And it plays amaz­ingly! I’m play­ing it every night at the mo­ment.

What were you go­ing for in terms of its tone, and the “sonic iden­tity” that you wanted to get out of this gui­tar?

Hon­estly, I don’t think that deep. The older I am and the more ex­pe­ri­ence I have, the less I’m try­ing to f*** around with what I need. Just give me a Peavey amp and some boost along the way, and I’m set. I have a noise com­pres­sor and a few of the ba­sic ped­als, but that’s it, re­ally. The Peavey com­bined with the ESP does the trick, and then the rest is in your hands. It all comes down to how you punch the strings and how you ar­tic­u­late your notes – that’s how you make your state­ment.

It’s not about what you have, but what you do with what you have.

Yeah. Again, it’s all about the dy­nam­ics. I mean, this record was just way more or­ganic, y’know? Like, for TheSatanist, we just re-amped all the gui­tars. We did the same with Evan­ge­lion – it was good for those records, but with this one, we wanted to re­ally strip it down to the ba­sics. All of the set­tings we had plugged in when we were track­ing the gui­tars is what you hear on the record. I’m re­ally happy that we didn’t change much of the orig­i­nal tones. It is what it is, and that’s what we play like.

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