Behemoth – Satanic Mass on the Sunset Strip

orionbehemoth1The Metal Alliance Tour was recently in the Southland, bringing a powerful lineup which included Black Crown Initiate, Inquisition, 1349, Goatwhore, and the mighty Behemoth from Poland.  The show was nothing short of an all-out triumph, as headliners Behemoth unleashed songs from their latest Metal Blade magnum opus The Satanist, as well as other massive crowd favorites.  Prior to the sold out performance at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip, we caught up with bassist Orion backstage for an interview.  Read on as we discuss The Satanist, Nergal’s battle with leukemia and how it affected the band’s writing of the new album, Orion’s other project Vesania, and other nefarious topics of intrigue…

behemothlive1How has the Metal Alliance Tour been going and what have been some of the highlights so far?
Well so far, so good – but we’ve just been through the day one – which was yesterday. So this is only the second show, so I’m hoping that this one is going to be a highlight.

How does The Satanist compare to the previous Behemoth releases?
It’s a very different record. First of all, we had this very long break between Evangelion and this one. I think we’ve changed a lot during this break. There was the time when Nergal was hospitalized, and we had some issues in our private lives also. We just came to the point of writing the record, and we’ve changed the approach to what we were doing. It ended up being way more human and way more organic. We didn’t really edit it to the very edge as we did with Evangelion. I think it’s way darker and way more black metal than the previous records.

behemothlive2How much do you think Nergal’s illness influenced the writing?
It definitely did influence it. I remember this situation after Evangelion – when we started touring, we were trying to talk about the new album in the future – just to project what we wanted to do. And we had no idea at this point actually – we really didn’t know where we should move from this one. Then he got sick. I think we’ve all learned to appreciate what we have during this time. We were going with the flow, and everything just stopped. We were at this point – when you’re a touring band and you’re on the road for the last 8-10 years – it just makes you think a lot. When this period was done – when he was all healthy and good – we started talking about the new record. It was just smooth and flawless – we didn’t have any problems like where we should go or what we should do. There was no such question at this point. We just exactly knew what we wanted to be like. We’ve learned to listen to each other – and I think this period of Nergal being sick just did this change in us.

behemothlive3How surprised are you to see The Satanist debut on the Billboard Charts here in the States?
I’m happy that it happened and I’m happy that it hit the higher point in the charts than Evangelion. It is surprising, but it’s one of the nicest surprises ever. It’s what you want to see for your records. It was awesome news.

What is the current metal scene like in Poland these days?
It’s doing pretty good. There’s a lot of this thing that we call post-metal – it’s this underground part of black metal bands – and this scene is growing really strong and big in Poland. There’s still Vader and Behemoth and Decapitated – and they’re all doing really good. There’s a lot of shows happening everywhere all the time. It’s becoming very European.

What do you think of these post-metal bands?
I do enjoy this music a lot. It’s very good.

behemothlive4Are you still working with Vesania and Black River – and if so, what’s currently going on with those bands?
Black River is no more. The band just split up at some point. Our vocalist got sick – that was something serious of course. He never came back to singing – that was his decision – so we just ended the whole story. As for Vesania – we are currently working on the new record – just finishing the mixes. Gonna master it very soon, and it should be out in September of this year. So we’re coming back.

Are you still on Napalm Records?
Uh, no. We quit the contract with Napalm. Still talking to a few labels. I’m not really supposed to say what it’s going to be before I sign anything, so I can’t tell. But it’s almost finalized. If it goes as we’re planning it, it’s going to be a good label in the U.S.

behemothlive5What do you find in Vesania that you don’t find in Behemoth?
Vesania is like my precious child. I started with this one – that was my first serious band. We’re still in the same lineup since 14 years or something. That’s the way I’m treating this band – we’re not earning any money with it – we’re not having the same thing we have with Behemoth. But still, I just cherish this band a lot – I can’t imagine myself without it. These are the great friends – the guys that I’ve known since I was a small kid – and I just want to continue. Behemoth is different – Behemoth is most of my life now – that’s what it takes – and I’m really dedicated to this band. It’s just a different story – different people – different thing.

What could one expect from the live Behemoth show tonight?
We’ve redesigned the whole stage. We’ve changed the set list completely. Most importantly, we’re going to play 5 songs off The Satanist.

Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
They’ve always been treating us very well here. Hopefully every show that we do here is as good as the last one – and hopefully this one today is going to be good. I’m happy to be here, and I just want to say to all of these people that we’re thankful for what they’re doing to us.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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