Few topics in metal are as polarising as Adam Darski’s latest venture ME AND THAT MAN. It’s been only two years since the BEHEMOTH founder and frontman cryptically announced his blues side project via Instagram, two years and we’ve gone from shadowy whispers in the dark corners of online metal forums to the full-length, 13 track long album Songs of Love and Death. Unsurprisingly, opinions are divided, but one thing is certain: to go from spiteful soul-crushing black metal to the classical riffs of the blues as quickly and unapologetically as Nergal has takes balls.
The album begins with My Church is Black a sultry litany of captivating chords and dark lyrics faltering only with Nergal’s somewhat forced vocals. This can be forgiven however, considering clean blues vocals aren’t exactly what the black metal titan is used to. Besides, all is soon forgotten with the introduction of John Porter’s hypnotic voice in Nightride and On the Road. What makes Songs of Love and Death truly exceptional is the subtle differences of each song. While the tambourines and choruses of Cross My Heart & Hope to Die render it a dirgeful blues ballad, the mood quickly changes with Better the Devil I Know thanks to its soulful female backing vocals and groovy riffs. This continues throughout the entirety of the album, making Songs of Love and Death nigh on impossible to categorise.
As if the first half of the record wasn’t dark enough, the mesmerising acoustic melody of Of Sirens, Vampires & Lovers is certain to plummet the listener into a whiskey-laden pit of arid melancholy –in the best possible way. Marking the middle of the album, Magdalene would’ve been no different, were it not for Nergal’s lyrical swagger and electrifying guitar solo. “If I turn water into wine, would you be my girl?” is such a great line, one particular writer considered getting it tattooed. The Rock n’ Roll atmosphere doesn’t end there, the classic piano and opening riff of Love & Death sounds like it could be taken straight from a KVELERTAK album. Looking past One Day, the only weak song of the album thanks to its nauseatingly country and western guitar and dull lyrics, Songs of Love and Death bounces right back with Shaman Blues. This dark ballad boasts a wicked flair, and a riff so meaty it propels the song from a slow and steady plod to a racing finale. Sadly, this energy doesn’t seep into the latter part of the album, with Voodoo Queen and Get Outta This Place reverting back a classic blues style. This leaves Songs of Love and Death reaching a somewhat desolate end with the moody, ritualistic chants of Ain’t Much Loving.
The fact that Songs of Love and Death is such a polarising album is no accident. It was obvious to Nergal from the very beginning that this would be a piece of work that violently divided his current fan base, and that’s exactly what he wanted. It’s all too easy to look at Nergal and pigeonhole him with so many other black metal artists as just another spike-clad Satan worshipper, but you’d be wrong. This is a man who thrives on controversy, who revels in the profane, and that’s why ME AND THAT MAN is such a genius move. Songs of Love and Death is an unrepentant, middle fingered challenge to die-hard BEHEMOTH fans and a way into the darkness we all know and love for people who otherwise would have been just a little put off. Here is an album possessing the same black spirit of Evangelion, Demigod and The Satanist, but in a moody, swinging blues body.
Songs of Love and Death is set for release on March 24th via Cooking Vinyl. Pre-orders are available now and a range of bundles can be purchased here.
For more information on ME AND THAT MAN, follow their official page on Facebook.