Long-time fans of Polish death metal crew Behemoth are unlikely to be surprised by frontman Nergal’s decision to make a record such as Songs of Love and Death. A stripped-down exercise in melodramatic, sandblasted Americana, his collaboration with folk stalwart John Porter draws from many of the same thematic sources that Behemoth have plundered at breakneck speed and excruciating volume over the years. The difference is that this is firmly in acoustic territory, where blues, folk and country collide and Nergal unveils a new, more intimate voice for his inner demons. Superficially, the likes of anthemic opener My Church Is Black, the woozy Voodoo Queen and tense, unsettling closer Ain’t Much Loving belong in a sonic realm built by Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and (as the album’s title suggests) Leonard Cohen. But Nergal is one of extreme metal’s few true eccentrics, and his obvious delight at finding a new way to explore life’s scariest shadows provides the infernal oomph that makes this unexpected detour so enthralling.
Writer. Musician. Metalhead. Dad. Twitter: @Dom_Lawson