Behemoth's Nergal Hails Slayer: "I've Never Stopped Being a Fanboy" | Revolver

Behemoth's Nergal Hails Slayer: "I've Never Stopped Being a Fanboy"

From the "scary" poster he had as a kid, to the "awesome" time he played with the thrash titans onstage
behemoth-nergal-kevin-wilson2crop.jpg, Kevin Wilson
Behemoth's Nergal, 2019
photograph by Kevin Wilson

After nearly four decades as revered pioneers of heavy metal and one of the best live acts on the planet, Slayer are nearing the end of their farewell world tour. What will they leave us beyond the fruits of their uncompromising vision: songs, videos, shirts, posters and other memorabilia? For one thing, stories. Lots of stories. So for Revolver's new issue, which features Slayer on one of its multiple collectible covers (you can purchase a copy via our store), we tracked down a few of their many famous friends and fans to compile some of the best.

Polish extreme-metal satanists Behemoth have opened on numerous legs of the thrash titans' farewell world tour. Here, frontman Adam Nergal Darski talks about the experience and his personal history with Slayer — from the "scariness" of being a Catholic kid with a Live Undead poster on his bedroom wall, to the awesomeness of playing "Evil Has No Boundaries" with his heroes onstage in his homeland.

WHAT'S YOUR FIRST SLAYER MEMORY?
ADAM NERGAL DARSKI Well, the first memories are not very family-oriented. I remember when a friend of mine, we were kind of growing up together, inspiring each other and both were into heavy metal. He was the first one that brought Slayer to our little enclave, and it was "Raining Blood." I remember that. It was some old video tape, and we just played over and over again. I remember my first reaction was like, "Uh ... it's not music." I was so into traditional heavy metal. That, for me, it was way too extreme. I was literally just confused. I was not into that at all.

Before that, because it was the mid-Eighties and in Poland [they sold] bootleg posters. One of the posters they would sell in several stores was Live Undead, and I remember I got it because it just looked fucking cool. At the same time I remember it was pretty scary, too. I remember I took it pretty literally back then ... I was still a Catholic, you know? Theoretically. So, for me, just putting that poster on the wall, right above my bed, by my pillow, and still praying to God and having this, it was some kind of contradiction that would just make me feel quite awkward about that. But something was drawing me towards it regardless. Then, the music came in, and I didn't dig it at first. It took a little while until I realized. I got my first Slayer cassette, Show No Mercy, which is my favorite Slayer record. I just got hooked right away. I've been a fan ever since.

That pretty much leads to my Slayer highlight. The opening track for Show No Mercy, "Evil Has No Boundaries," to me, it's the best song that they ever made. Obviously, I'm being very sentimental about it, because that was the first Slayer song that I heard. So decades later we shared a stage. I would just jam the song with them somewhere in the U.S., like, twice during the soundcheck. They have this official soundcheck, like a bunch of VIPs could watch, like 10, 20 people would just be there. So, I was there doing that. It was already a blast. Then I was talking to Kerry in Australia earlier this year, and I just told them, "Hey. We're opening for you in Poland. How about we do it officially?" I remember it was funny, because Kerry said, "Holy shit. I need to relearn the song," because they never played it live. "So, do we have deal?" And he said, "Only if you'll be wearing the mitre hat." And my immediate answer would be yes, although I knew I won't be fucking performing in that hat with Slayer — that would be stupid. But anyway. I just wanted it to happen, [laughs] so obviously I agreed to that.

And guess what happens next? Next thing they start touring again and I see the set list. And what's in the set list? "Evil Has No Boundaries"! So, I figured out the fact that I pushed on that song, just made them make that song part of the set list. So, it was really a huge happening. So, it did happen. They invited me onstage in Poland. I was surprised at that. It was awesome. I had a blast. One of my touring highlights, life highlights, artistic highlight and Slayer highlights.

WITH BEHEMOTH HAVING BEEN A PART OF THE FAREWELL RUN, WHAT WERE THE CROWDS LIKE?
I must say that the Slayer fans have always been very generous to us, and I don't remember one particular show that we were rejected by the crowd. Just, no. I must say the tours were fucking amazing. Most of it was a blast, really. Some shows we opened, some shows we'd be second on the bill. It wouldn't matter. People would still be there. People were already curious. People are generous. I know that we made all the fans during these tours, as well. Then we came back for our run in the U.S., and there was already people, numerous guys that came to us and said, "Hey. I saw you at Slayer first. I came back for a longer set." It is a treat, for sure. It was absolutely awesome. It was a privilege to be part of it. Yeah, what else can I say?

YOU KNOW, A LOT OF ARTISTS I'VE BEEN INTERVIEWING HAVE BEEN SAYING THE SAME THING: "IT'S SLAYER — WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO SAY?"
Just by doing those tours we know that we're already a part of history. And that's next to Slayer. And, even if you check our current stage production ... I would just look up a Slayer show, just like, "Oh, shit. How can we do something similar to that?" [Laughs]

I'm not even fucking hiding that. It'd be like a living homage. They've always been a role model of the top class, dream act that is just aging so well. They never really artistically disappointed me. Well, I'm not really a big fan of Diabolus in Musica, to be honest. Then I revisited the album lately, and I must say that the opening track ["Bitter Piece"] is awesome. Even though they themselves, they're not happy with that album, they should play that song. The opening song from Diabolus in Musica, because it sounds classic. It sounds amazing. Better than anything else, anyway.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST UNIQUE THING ABOUT SLAYER?
They invented and changed the genres. They just created something that is part of the whole thrash frame, but then they're beyond that. And, there's few bands that did that. If you think of Exodus, you think of the thrash-metal category, top-class act, right? When you think of Slayer, it's not only a thrash-metal band. It's the same story with Metallica. They're a part of this genre, and then they just grew out of that and became something else. That refers to Slipknot [too].

Honestly, I know I'm going to sound very modest, but I really hope that Behemoth, obviously on a smaller scale, but that you could say we are death- or black-metal band, but when I look up to Slayer, this is what I've always wanted to maintain. I just don't want to be another black-metal band. I want to be this and beyond. I want to be this and something else. Something more than the genre. I don't know if it's all Slayer, it's just something more. Slayer is a genre in itself. So, the genre is called "Slayer," let's put it that way. Plus, what I love about them, what I adore them for is whatever genre they're referred with — be it fucking rap or hip-hop music, or even nu-metal or Diabolus in Musica, they never stop being Slayer.

So, whatever pieces or other songs that were just getting inspired by, they just incorporate them and never lose their own spirit. That's another super inspirational thing about them. That is something that makes them timeless act. Of course, in 50 years, we won't be here, and they won't be here, but their legacy will live forever like KISS or Led Zeppelin, you know what I mean? It's a brand that's going to live forever.

I AGREE. I THINK THEY'VE COMPLETELY TRANSCENDED MUSIC AND BECOME PART OF OF THE CULTURE AT LARGE.
You're right. That was the word I was missing — transcendental. That's what they've been. It's transcendent. They developed into something else, and that's hard to define. I mean, the definition is called "Slayer," period.

Trust me. I'm 42. I've seen the world, and I've traveled the world, and I've toured the world. We became friends, which is fucking surreal already, but I've never stopped being a fanboy, OK? I've never stopped being a fan. Every single time I see them, I have always had pieces and posters to sign. [Laughs] I still fucking do that, and I will never stop.

SO, DOES 42-YEAR-OLD NERGAL STILL HAVE A SLAYER POSTER NEXT TO HIS PILLOW?
Abso-fucking-lutely. [Laughs] I mean, some of my diehard fans go to Poland to get a trim at one of the Barberian, my barber shops. There's posters of my favorite bands on the walls. Misfits posters, with all the guys signed it. The Slayer-signed posters. It's like memorabilia of bands I adore and worship — it's all over the walls!