Let’s Remember When Nergal Watched A Sexual Assault
He now finds the incident funny, by the way.
Behemoth’s new album I Loved You At Your Darkest comes out this week. As with any album, there has been a lot of hype and promotion in support. You may have seen their new videos and listened to their new songs. You may have heard about their legal issues in their home country of Poland. You may have even seen them being totes silly, omgz!!1! With a new album out this week and supporting Slayer on their last tour* ever, Behemoth is very much in the public eye once again.
We recently discussed Behemoth on an episode of the Toilet Ov Hell podcast. On the show we discussed their music as well as their themes and general “satanic” gimmick. After the show, we received a message from a listener asking why we had not discussed the time frontman Nergal “justified rape with nonsensical better-than-your-average-bear ‘transcendatal’ rock and roll ideology.” We were then linked to this article titled “BEHEMOTH: Forced To Cancel Festival Appearance And Accused Of Raping A Fan in 2001”.
Whoa, what? While I may not know everything that has occurred throughout the history of metal, I’d like to think I have a pretty good idea of most major stories. It is odd, and somewhat shocking, that this story really hasn’t received more attention, especially as the band has ascended in popularity. Even more shocking? Nergal openly talks about the situation in his book Confession Of A Heretic. This isn’t some incident that was swept under the rug and only talked about in hushed tones. His casual and blasé attitude towards sexual assault is right there in black and white print. The incident is discussed on Page 112.
Interviewer: During one of your first tours, a Norweigian band called Khold supported you. They suddenly packed their bags and fled. Rumour has it that you were ‘too rock’n’roll’ for them.
Nergal: We were playing a show in Spain. Our promoter there was a typical Spanish woman: curly black hair and eyes like coal. She wasn’t overly pretty, but she was really nice to us. She asked us if she could go to our show in Madrid with us. And I have always thought that if a girl wants to get on a bus with the band, she doesn’t want to just drink tea with them.
Interviewer: What did you give her?
Nergal: Vodka, of course. She drank quite a lot of it. We all did. Apart from the guys in Khold, that is. They were strange, drinking Pepsi all the time and saying nothing. They were as entertaining as a broomstick. So we partied without them. At one point I decided I’d had enough and went to rest on my bunk. I slept for a while and went back to the back of the bus. There was only the sad Norwegians back there, so I went downstairs…and I couldn’t believe my eyes! The girl was lying naked on the table and there was a bunch of guys around her, all of them naked. One of them was holding the camera, and the rest were arguing, all of them off their face – trying to shoot a porn movie. I won’t name any names, but I remember them arguing about who was going to put his dick in her mouth: ‘Oh, come on, man, let me, you’ve already had it!’
Interviewer: Did the guys from Khold also go downstairs?
Nergal: No, but the next day they saw our amateur porn movie. They were really narrow-minded, and in some strange way they deduced that there had been a rape. They wanted to go to the police. They took the tape, packed their stuff, and fled. We waited as if for a verdict, because we weren’t sure what the girl would say.
Interviewer: Did the police show up?
Nergal: We found the tape in a dumpster by the parking lot. It was in tatters. But there was some trouble looming. Our tour manager found out about everything. We tried to tell him that there was no rape. It was just a small, innocent orgy. He went to talk to the girl anyway, He wanted to know if she felt like it was rape. ‘No, nooo,’ she quickly responded, ‘it was cool!’ We played the show in Madrid a few hours later, without Khold this time, and the girl was rocking out in the front row.
Let’s break this down: Nergal helped get a woman drunk, witnessed her rape, criticized Khold for not taking part, and then blows the whole thing off as an “innocent orgy”. That same “innocent orgy” where he declines to name the men who took part in it. Hmmmm. Yeah, that sounds real innocent. The fucking mental gymnastics on this guy. This horrible sexual assault is a fond memory for him. It’s part of the “rock’n’roll lifestyle” that only lives on in his mind.
Some might dismiss this incident as “being in the past” or that Nergal is a different person. We all react in different and strange ways to cope with witnessing something horrible. Trauma can occur in many forms and sometimes cannot be properly addressed for many years.
In an interview in “Gala”, chronicled by Polish website Muzyka.Onet.PL, Nergal said (emphasis mine)
“My point of view is exactly the opposite, I explain my attitude to this situation in the book, I absolutely did not consider it a rape,” said Nergal. “Rock’n’roll is fun, often dangerous and risky. Something that may be something horrible and amoral to you, for me is an emanation of Dionysian attitudes and ecstatic elevation or just pure hedonism with a hint of perversion. I will not change my approach just because it might have shocked or offended someone… I look at the whole situation with humour because that is how I perceive it today.”
It’s funny to Nergal. A drunk woman, unable to consent, being raped by multiple men is humorous to him. This certainly keeps in line with his idealistic view of what rock n’ roll should be. Seriously, he’s been harping on rock and metal being “dangerous” for years. Eventually he’ll realize that many of his rock gods were fucking creeps. Maybe he already does and is more than okay with it.
This isn’t the first time that Nergal has used this sort of amorphous creed to justify shitty thinking and behavior. There are multiple examples of his garbage opinion towards women in his book. In a generally unpleasant discussion of women (page 70):
Interviewer: Are Polish girls prudish?
Nergal: A friend of mine recently got dumped by his girlfriend because he hit her in the face during sex. He’s no wife beater; they just went hardcore. It’s obvious that you can do that in bed. I was sitting with another friend and his girlfriend in a bar. Suddenly she jumped to her feet, and he gently patter her on the butt. She screamed at him. She made a scene, because she felt like a ‘servant’. Bullshit! It was simple flirtation. You can pat a strange woman on the butt, far less your girlfriend…
Ladies, if you ever see Nergal do this, break his hand. Suddenly, his unwavering support for Decapitated (and Keep of Kalessin) makes a lot more sense. If this is all the stuff he is comfortable talking about, just imagine the things he keeps to himself. His book also includes thoughts on the difference between Polish and American women (Pg. 71 “Polish girls are much more blocked-off when it comes to oral sex…but in the USA it’s like shaking hands”), his first girlfriend in kindergarten (Pg. 22 “I even got my first blowjob!”), and his controlling nature in a relationship (Pg. 62-63 “But then again I was no tyrant – nothing like that. I just created rules that I thought were normal. I had an expansive nature, and she accepted that. There was a kind of symbiosis in it, but I was definitely dominant…Then she found a new boyfriend. When I found out about that, I was furious. I was the only one who could make rules, but there she was – playing her own cards. She became independent…I had lost control.”)
How has the metal world remained silent about this incident and these backwards attitudes? Is it as simple nobody knew and no one read his book? I certainly fell into that category until very recently. Well, now I know and now you know. Is the actions and attitudes of person you want to support? That’s a pretty easy answer for me.
I’m curious how Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, who wrote the foreword to Negal’s book, feels about that story. Slayer has taken Behemoth out on tour more than once. Where do they stand on this? Metal Blade Records is putting out their latest album and Nuclear Blast put out their two previous albums. Any thoughts from them? Will it stop other musicians from taking smiling pictures and being associated with Nergal? Only time will tell. Maybe he’s just such a swell guy that it doesn’t matter to them. We already know that for many, this will be dismissed, explained away, and downright ignored. The classic “but the riffs” argument will be bandied about rather than confronting the difficult truth.
We’ve heard about countless awful and heartbreaking stories and revelations from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. In the United States, we are currently in the midst of the contentious nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. These stories and quotes from Nergal are disgusting and unacceptable. The metal community likes to believe that it is accepting and welcoming to all. Does any of this sound accepting?