Behemoth are one of the most intriguing bands in metal. Their black metal origins gave way to a more blackened death metal sound, and their lyrical and visual content has constantly pushed the envelope. It’s even been questioned in the Polish Supreme Courts in regards to freedom of religion. The band put out The Satanist last year to critical acclaim. It was both a daunting and honest release, and unapologetically declared its origins and the band’s beliefs with one fell swoop. The band hit the US with Cannibal Corpse in support of the record, and while on the St. Petersburg date of the show, I got to sit down with the almighty Inferno, the super fast and proficient man behind the drums, to discuss a myriad of things, from Satan to what Behemoth really means to him.
Thanks for sitting down with me for this interview! I know you’re a busy man with some last minute prep to do before the show, so it’ll be quick, I promise!
[laughs] Don’t worry. It’s fine
First of all, how are you feeling? I know last summer you guys had to cancel a ton of tour dates because of your appendix.
Yeah, the appendix. Unfortunately we had to cancel many, many shows, which we hate doing.
Has everything been good since?
Yeah, feeling good, man. It was a last minute surgery, so after that I couldn’t play for eight months. It was a real bad infection. It was freaking me out for a bit, not being able to play. But yeah, it’s totally fine now; I’m at 100% now.
Was it frustrating to not be able to tour for so long?
Oh, yeah. I was pissed off that I couldn’t make any of the tours. I had to miss all of the Euro tours and then the Asia and Australian dates as well because I was ill. We also had to miss the Mayhem Festival, which sucked. We were all really looking forward to that one. It was right before Mayhem Festival, and it was too important to get back to 100% to risk playing every day like that, especially with the music we play. I hope next summer we’ll be back in the US for the summer festivals.
So now that you’re back touring, how has this tour been for you?
Oh, it’s great. I’d have to say this has been the best US tour for us so far. It hasn’t been that long since we toured here. We did the tour with Goatwhore and 1349 last year, which was a great tour. It’s been about 7 weeks on this tour, and it’s time to finish and go home. But then, we’ll get home and begin to miss touring almost immediately. So that’s how it is [laughs].
That’s good to hear! A lot of artists tend to get sick of it over the years. This is like the first tour where you’ve been playing a ton of material from the new album live. How’s it feel to play the new stuff for fans?
I love it! It’s so fresh for me. And the new songs have new arrangements, so they’re more “live” songs. They’re easier to paly live, but also more powerful. It’s not only our opinion; it’s our crew’s opinion and the fan’s opinions as well, from what we’ve heard.
I can agree with that. The material sounds absolutely crushing live. I also think it’s great that as a band you guys all came together to pick up right where you left off in 2009 to write such a heavy record with such power. When you guys were writing the music, did you have a theme in mind of how you wanted it to sound, or did you guys just start jamming and see what happened?
Depending on the riffs, we tried different options. Not always, though. Sometimes we get in there and [snaps] that’s it. We think “this is it; this is the one”. But when we were rehearsing and trying to record the stuff at home, we tried to find something that fit into every song. If we tried and idea and it didn’t quite fit, we’d just try something else. It’s just how we approach writing in general; we try to make all the riffs fit together.
It definitely sounds darker than Evangelion, and actually sounds as if it has a lot more black metal in it than any of your recent releases.
That was the point for us. We tried to catch the best riffs. The songs are slower than before, so we wanted to have it sound wider, more powerful. I tried to catch more sounds from the room instead of straight from the drums. What you hear is a huge room of sound.
The production was very clean on the record for what it was. How do you feel about the whole “new wave” of music that’s coming out lo-fi, grainy, muddled, etc?
We’re not calculating, firstly. It’s great to hear good opinions and reviews of our stuff, but we do what we do. We have to be satisfied; that’s the first rule. If you’re not, then you’ll know in the music.
Speaking of black metal, what’s your opinion on the whole black metal scene?
I think the scene is very strong now. Some people talk bullshit about it but we have a lot of really great bands everywhere. Even in the US you have Leviathan, Negative Plane, stuff like that. I love those bands. The US black metal scene has always been great. Even the old bands like Profanatica, bands from Poland like Infernal War, Doombringer; it’s all fucking excellent black metal.
Those are some amazing bands. In terms of content on your latest album, it obviously deals a lot with a topic you guys have dealt with in the past, with albums called Satanica and now the new album being called The Satanist. It seems like a lot of bands try to abuse the idea of Satan and the underworld and Hell and it just becomes cheesy and overdone. I wanted to know how you felt about not necessarily the idea of Satan, but how its used in Behemoth.
Yeah, I mean it says a lot about itself, Satan. Its strongest thing that it says about itself is the people around it. We are stronger than ever as a band. It’s been 18 years for me, being in the band. It’s been a journey, and an experience. I been a feeling like never before, especially now. I think that it says a lot about us.
It’s always nice to hear about something keeping the band strong, and I think that as long as it keeps the fire burning, then you should run with it!
Yeah, for sure!
So after this tour, you guys are going back to Poland, and then doing some more shows?
For two weeks, yes, we’ll be in Poland. Then we have the Inferno Festival in Norway that we’re headlining, and then a festival in France. Then we start another European tour and we’ll be busy until probably the end of this year. Next year we’ll be back in the US, for sure, next summer.
Awesome! In the meantime, I know that the new album has only been out for a short time, but as of right now have any ideas about another album been discussed?
Not really. I think, personally, this album still needs more promotion. It will happen when it happens.
Looking forward to it! One more question before you go and play: you said yourself you’ve been in the band almost two decades. If you could use one word to describe being in Behemoth, what would it be?
Life. It’s my life. It’s all of our lives.
Pick up Behemoth’s The Satanist via Metal Blade now!