Almost a year has passed since I first wrote that Adam Darski, the polish metal behemoth otherwise known as Nergal, was having his memoir Confessions of a Heretic: The Sacred and the Profane: Behemoth and Beyond translated from his native tongue into English. I immediately knew that this book deserved a spot on my shelf and jumped at the chance when I saw a lonesome copy at a local bookstore.
It is here however that I must confess my own heresies; I am not a Behemoth fan. There it is! His music is too extreme for my tastes, and I could never fully grasp the appeal. While I may not enjoy the music, I still held a deep respect for him. It was that, and a stray giftcard that led to my reading of one of the best books about heavy metal and/or a heavy metal personality that I’ve read to date.
The book is told as a series of interrogations by Nergal’s close friends, poking and prodding at the answers behind the answer. These are the people that have been with him throughout his wild ride of a life, from his humble beginnings in Gdańsk, Poland, to his rise to heavy metal stardom, his conquering of leukemia, and to the publishing of this book. The book itself is beautifully bound: the cover artwork a very well done portrait of the man himself, with another image of himself on the back wearing a crown of thorns. The paper used is very thick and heavy, and not just the cover and picture pages within but the entirety. Overall, the book feels really good to hold and look over, and it had a price tag to match of $19.95 for a paperback.
A familiar name starts off the book with the introduction, a one D.Randall Blythe of Lamb of God. (Side note: Dark Days: A Memoir comes out this July 14th and I already have my copy reserved.) He begins with a fascinating perspective of the polarizing man, and goes into a most fascinating story of Nergal on stage with a bible. Use your imagination for what happens next, it’s better to read the story from him than me.
The next 287 pages are a deep, dark, conversation from the people who knew him best. They show a side to the bible shredding, “Satanist” that you don’t won’t see elsewhere. From his compassionate relationships with both lovers and friends, to his personal philosophies on love, drugs, music piracy and scrambled egg ingredients, I believe that there is something positive that everyone could take from this book. In it the music really comes second to the life and philosophy of the man behind the corpse paint.
Do you want to know what band gave Nergal a bible that lead to him infamously using them as stage prop, or why they affectionately call George “Corpegrinder” Fischer of Cannibal Corpse “Shitmaster?” Or does his side on “selling out” by being on Voice of Poland sound more interesting? I hate those singing competition shows, and I even I found that chapter super entertaining. This book is full of fun stories, but more than just that. This book could easily go down as a philosophical tome on morality and religion, as well as a collection of life-lessons on the bliss and hardship of romance. It’s a story of rise, fall, and rise again, with a touching cancer story that could melt the heart of even the most grim and frostbitten metalhead.
And so I shall leave you with what I deemed the most inspirational, heartwarming quote of the piece:
“I am a fan of shapely butts.”
– Adam Nergal Darski
Just kidding! On the topic of whether or not he would change anything about his life, he says:
“Taking bricks out of a standing building is risky, because you have no guarantee that it won’t fall apart. And, equally, you can never be sure that a little change or a different decision made in a given situation won’t make you sit with your old, fat wife, babysitting spoilt brats instead of giving an interview,”
Or, as Cronos of Venom put it (who he did quote previously to giving this remark), “No fucking way.”
Confessions of a Heretic: The Sacred and The Profane: Behemoth and Beyond – 4 desecrated Bibles out of 5.
Fun Fact: The book was ranked the #1 best seller in Religious and Church Music on Amazon. Let that sink in.