For more than 20 years, Poland’s Behemoth played blackened death metal that prioritized speed and rage above all else. Then in 2014, following a near-fatal battle with leukemia, frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski lashed back with The Satanist, which combined the brutality of Behemoth’s past catalog with more inventive arrangements and more unexpected tempo shifts.
Now, four years later, Behemoth have returned with their 11th full-length studio album, I Loved You at Your Darkest, which further builds upon the structural developments of The Satanist, while retaining the band’s aggressive core. In addition, Behemoth have incorporated new touches, including strings, horns and a children’s choir. For Darski, the evolution exemplifies his desire to constantly grow as an artist.
“Right now, the extreme metal scene is overwhelmed with bands that are just fucking spitting out records every day,” Darksi says from his home in Warsaw. “In order to stand out and make music that will resonate throughout the years, you have to do things that will stick in people’s memories, which means doing things differently from what you have previously done and what everyone else is doing.”
One way Darski changed up his game was by taking a new approach to writing guitar parts. Instead of picking up one of his signature ESPs and churning out volleys of abrasive riffs, he wrote I Loved You at Your Darkest on a Gretsch double-cut hollow body.
“Obviously, the Gretsch is not made for extreme metal,” Darski says. “These guitars are made for mellow music, blues and rock. You can’t really shred on them. So it forced me to think of new ways of making songs and constantly surprising myself.”
Darski employed other musical techniques when he collaborated with British multi-instrumentalist John Porter on the indie side project Me and That Man, which released their necro-blues debut, Songs of Love and Death, in 2017.
“It was a way to explore other types of music and get away from what I usually do with Behemoth,” Darski says. “Doing a very mellow record gave me time to get excited about very heavy music again, but it also made me to try different musical ideas, some of which found their way to the new Behemoth record. As an artist, I really feel like if you don’t grow, you die.”
● GUITARS Gretsch hollow body, ESP Nergal-6, ESP LTD Hex-7, ESP Eclipse
● AMPS Peavey 6505+, Bogner Uberschall
● STRINGS D’Addario