Songs of Love and Death by Me and That ManRelease date: March 24, 2017
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Behemoth’s frontman Adam Darski, Nergal to most of us, is a man of renaissance. A man of many talents and traits with more than just a few strings to his precision bow. A Natural Born Philosopher, a Demigod to some, and most certainly one of the Blackest Ov The Black. What Darski would produce after the highly praised and fame-making The Satanist has been subject of much discussion among Behemoth legions, but one thing is clear and that’s the simple fact that he pours his heart and soul into everything he does. Perhaps the last thing on fans minds though, apart from maybe fronting a J-Pop group, was a bluesy folk record, albeit blackened by Darski’s presence.
Anyone who knows their country or blues understands that its subject matter can be at times a tad on the dark side, with songs about faith, travelling the open road and of course the Devil, it’s just black and broody enough for a creative visionary to get stuck into. Darski quite clearly has a lot to get off his chest and it seems he’s found a liberating genre to bury some demons in.
Teaming up with renowned English/Polish legend John Porter to form perhaps this years most interesting new band, Me and That Man. An extreme choice perhaps for the extreme musician, but where there is music there are stories and here Darski pours a drink and tells his wicked tales. Off comes the corpsepaint and on goes the preachers hat. Nergal fans will either love or hate debut album Songs of Love and Death, but all with deeply respect its musicianship and authenticity in its passionate delivery.
There is a genuine gratification upon first hearing this release to know that legends live on within their inspiration, reborn in the most unlikely of duos. Each musician brings their own style and may I say brilliance to the record. Porter is the old hand sat centre stage in the smoke-lit bar strumming a tune for all night dwellers to nod along to whilst Darski is the mysterious black-clad stranger emerging from the shadows with an interesting proposition. There is a beautiful chemistry and contrast between the two artists, yet a harmonious ying and yang is clear to hear. A spiritual kinship. The song ‘Love and Death’ showcases this wonderfully with a punky thumping rhythm and dual attacking vocals.
The singles released before this album would have you thinking Darski would be more prominent, but this certainly isn’t the case and this isn’t just his show, with the bulk of the tracks going in favour of Porter’s stylings and lead. With nearly forty years in music Porter brings the old man blues and Cash-esque Americana with songs like ‘One Day’ and the rockin’ ‘On The Road’, whilst Darski slathers his numbers in dark tales of faith and Hell, such as in album opener ‘My Church Is Black’, which is a somber anthem of rebellion and an insight into Darski’s introspective approach to his songs. But it’s on ‘Cross My Heart and Hope To Die’ where Darski truly shines, not quite repenting his sins but instead declaring the dark path he’s chosen. It’s a slow paced but hell-raising statement with an additional middle finger to religion in the shape of a totally-not-creepy children’s choir singing “we have chosen Hell on Earth”.
Comparisons will of course be made to the likes of Cohen, Cash and the dark tinges of Cave, but with Darski at the helm it moves into realms of uniqueness. Whilst there is nothing new or groundbreaking about this album or its music it sits up there with some of this years best releases. Uncomplicated and raw, yet steeped in tradition and tragedy, its stripped back and simple songs can still tell the most vivid of stories.
This is music for the journeyman, invoking sights, sounds and smells of the bleak and downtrodden path of life, kicking up just the right amount of dust into your eyes as a sting of grimness. It’s music that tells of travelling from place to place with only a guitar slung over the shoulder and a bottle of whisky for company. Wherever these two men are in their thoughts they have found a common bond within Me and That Man and one that pays off. Porter’s story isn’t quite as plagued as Darski’s, but here he proves why he is one of the greats, whilst our extreme metal icon has found freedom.