After successfully fighting leukaemia, releasing one of the 21st century’s most vital extreme metal albums, and co-writing a book about his experiences, one could forgive Nergal for wanting to take some time off. Instead, though, he’s teamed up with solo artist John Porter for a Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen-inspired bluesy folk release. The Behemoth frontman isn’t someone the metal scene would associate with acoustic guitars and emotive crooning, but Songs Of Love And Death, the debut album from his side-project, Me And That Man, holds a heavy emphasis on both.
Once the initial shock of Nergal’s creative U-turn subsides, though, there are more than inklings that the Behemoth frontman is responsible for this album. Not only does it retain a penchant for dark imagery, but songs like opener “My Church Is Black” retain Nergal’s anti-religious lyrical themes as he unashamedly sings “hell is my home.” Tracks like this and closer “Ain’t Much Loving” may be ballads, but they don’t centre around emotive grandeur so much as menacing tones that instil a sense of fear. In this regard, Me And That Man can be seen as an interesting venture from the duo, one that opens up new avenues for Nergal’s ever-sinister themes.
There’s more to the album than straight-up folk, with sombre blues riffs and jangly country flourishes littering the release throughout. Moreover, there are harmonica solos, banjos, disturbing child choirs, and even smatterings of synth on the string-laden “Of Sirens, Vampires And Lovers”. Throughout, the duo’s vocal styles are consistently mournful, and the melodies are as unsettling as they are infectious. This may be a more vulnerable Nergal, but it’s not bereft of his proclivity for inherently gloomy tones.
Less challenging and grotesque than Behemoth but nevertheless macabre, Me And That Man prove themselves an interesting duo across Songs Of Love And Death’s 13 tracks, capable of swapping guttural growls for gravelly singing and blast beats for stomping blues rhythms whilst still retaining themes of Satan, death and Hell.
Songs Of Love And Death Track Listing:
01. My Church Is Black
03. On The Road
04. Cross My Heart And Hope To Die
05. Better The Devil I Know
06. Of Sirens, Vampires and Lovers
08. Love & Death
09. One Day
10. Shaman Blues
11. Voodoo Queen
12. Get Outta This Place
13. Ain’t Much Loving
Run Time: 46:21
Release Date: March 24, 2017
Check out the video for “Cross My Heart And Hope To Die”