Review by Jordan Sibberas
It’s been three years since the black metal mephisto, Adam Nergal Darski, took time off from Behemoth to detour into the world of country. And what a massive impression he left with 2017’s ‘Songs of Love and Death’, an album that caught the darkness of a time when country music was dangerous. Fans of Me and That Man so far, and of Behemoth for that matter, will be thrilled then to know that ‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol. 1’ is a blistering album which builds even stronger on the debut record.
One key difference stood out to myself upon first listen between this sophomore release and its predecessor, and that is that Nergal has assembled a truly behemoth cast (pardon the pun) of feature artists to deliver his tracks. Each song except for ‘Męstwo’ features one or more guests, but I’ll return to that in a moment. One might be concerned then that Nergal’s presence on this record may be limited, but on the contrary, Nergal’s ability to weave a mist of gothic darkness is right across this record, most notably in the powerful but vintage tones he summons forth from his guitar playing.
‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol. 1’ opens with ‘Run With the Devil’ led by Jørgen Munkeby of Shining (the Norwegian one) fame. “My heart is pure but my church is black / I’m running drunk and wild through hell and back / I might be old but I ain’t done yet / I’m on the run with the Devil himself”, summarises nicely where Me and That Man are at right now, unafraid to reference the past, musically and lyrically (note the throwback to their 2017 single ‘My Church is Black’) but at the same time unashamedly pressing forward with their unashamedly blasphemous rock ’n roll attitude.
Mat McNerney (most notably of Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures) leads one of the more controversial moments on the LP, ‘Burning Churches’. This track musically is a barn-burning shanty, and tells the story of a young Christian boy discovering the world of black metal through the news reports of, presumably, the 1990’s Norwegian church arsons (If you’re that out of the loop, go watch Until The Light Takes Us. Now!). Perhaps this young boy is Nergal himself, perhaps it’s all of us, but either way it sticks out as an unashamedly fun track that is bound to get under the skin of many puritan fans and stuck in the heads of any metalhead with a sense of humour.
Speaking of black metal, Ihsahn (Emperor) and Niklas Kvarforth (Shining, of Sweden), both make appearances on this record. ‘By the River’ ft. Ihsahn broods and hums with a folky darkness that will tickle the fancy of fans of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Ihsahn provides one of the more gritty and impassioned vocal performances of the record. ‘Confession’ however, is nothing short of a flaming inferno of haunted southern rage draped over black metal blast beats. It’s a Texan ranch doused in gasoline and set alight, it’s a matte black Mustang wheelspinning down a hundred-mile desert highway in a cold Scandinavian night. A whole album in this style alone would be pure bliss, and personally my fingers are crossed that volume 2 of ‘New Man, New songs, Same Shit’ delves heavier into this sound.
Another peak of this track is ‘How Come’ featuring Corey Taylor (Do I really need to introduce the frontman of Slipknot and Stone Sour?). ‘How Come’ is a roaring track that perfectly blends Nergal’s dirty, gritty approach to country folk with Corey’s rousing but technically proficient vocal delivery. Mixing the presences of Behemoth’s larger than life frontman and Slipknot’s so-called Great Big Mouth is a daunting prospect, but the two meet halfway beautifully to deliver a song that draws on both their strengths.
All things considered, ‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol. 1’ is a fun, enjoyable record that showcases Nergal’s songwriting, and a who’s who of the heavy music world flaunting their versatility outside the world of overdriven electric guitars and compressed metal drums. The album won’t necessarily sate the hunger for a new Behemoth record that many death metal puritans will surely be feeling soon, but is a fantastic record for the rest of us.
‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol. 1’ is out 27/03/2020 via Napalm Records.