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Heavy music has often been at its most potent when it has aimed for something beyond the ordinary, something transformative and liberating. In the last few decades, few musicians in the metal world have been more consistently and persistently dedicated to those noble goals than Behemoth founder and frontman Nergal. Over 25 years and ten studio albums, the Polish titans of sonic blackness have become one of the most legendary and increasingly successful bands in the history of extreme music, but Nergal is about to shatter any preconceptions people may have about his creative vision.
A newly-formed collaboration with renowned British/Polish rock musician John Porter, Me & That Man reveals an entirely fresh and convincing side to Nergal's musical endeavors. An exhilarating journey through sun-ravaged, dusty plains, soundtracked by low-slung acoustic guitars and steeped in the raw essence of old school folk and country music, but also drawing from the dark narratives of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, the duo's debut album, Songs Of Love & Death will doubtless prove a revelatory affair for Behemoth's huge global fan base while simultaneously luring many more people into Nergal's artistic world.
Erupting into glowering, doom-laden life with the rousing, malevolent hymn of "My Church Is Black," Songs Of Love & Death is an album of simple but timeless ideas, all filtered through Nergal's pitch-black poetic prism. Fans of everything from Johnny Cash's American Recordings through to the grim, frontier polemic of Wovenhand will find countless mesmerizing moments within these songs: from the sing-along macabre of "Shaman Blues" and the hellish Bo Diddley stomp of "On The Road" to the bleak balladry of "Ain't Much Lovin'" and "Cross My Heart And Hope To Die's" woozy necro-spiritual, these are songs that may echo the adversarial attitude of Nergal's work with Behemoth, but this is a far less complex beast and one that demands an instinctive gut reaction.
With its stark, brutal title – a purposeful nod towards Leonard Cohen's classic 1971 album Songs Of Love & Hate – and its core of gritty, swaggering sonic rawness, Me & That Man's debut album may seem a million miles away from what Nergal is best known for, but as far as he is concerned, this is just another necessary and vital part of his creative life: a new way to express the same ideas of individualism, defiance and darkness, but in an entirely unfamiliar context, all underpinned by a thrilling sense of musical freedom.