Behemoth: Too Dangerous For Poland? Plus Agonist, Machine Head And More News That Rules, In Metal File

Plus: Gwar plan more gut-spilling gigs; 'Get Thrashed' documentary wins Grand Prize at film fest.

This week, a Polish anti-sect organization dubbed “The All-Polish Committee for Defense Against Sects” released a list of artists it claims “promote Satanism” or “encourage murder and animal sacrifice” with their music. The group plans to distribute the list to a number of Polish politicians next month, in hopes that the officials will ban said artists from performing in the Central European nation.

The list includes, among others, Marilyn Manson and Slayer — who, oddly enough, are touring the U.S. together this summer. Another act making the list is one of Poland’s own, blackened death metallers Behemoth — who’ll also be touring the U.S. this summer, as part of this year’s 11th annual Ozzfest.

Adam “Nergal” Darski, Behemoth’s frontman, said he questions the motives of the APCFDAS and thinks the attempt to ban his band from performing in his native land is, well, ridiculous.

“You have these politicians who, for some reason — probably just for self-promotion — want to fight this kind of stuff,” he explained. “This is music. This is art. This is some kind of expression, and this is our expression. For some reason, they think it has a negative influence on kids, so they want to stop it. So they made this list that’s going to come out next month, and Behemoth is #1. … I’m not sure if they’ll [be able to enforce it], because it’s a violation of the most basic democratic rules. It’s very extreme and very dangerous.”

“Extreme” and “dangerous” — two words Nergal often uses to describe Behemoth, but obviously with different connotations. Regardless, the threat of a potential Polish ban hasn’t put the fear of God in Behemoth. In fact, the band has booked a handful of Poland dates, which it intends on playing immediately following Ozzfest’s August 30 finish in West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s all part of Behemoth’s campaign to spread the word about The Apostasy, their seventh full-length album and follow-up to 2004′s Demigod that lands in stores July 17 — less than a week after Ozzfest’s Seattle launch.

“If you have a record like this in your hands, and you have so many tour opportunities and so many people [supporting you], all you have to do is get your ass on a plane or in a van — if there’s a need — and just tour every f—ing corner of the world, and make sure that every kid has a copy of this f—ing record,” Nergal said with authority. “No compromise — no rest for conquerors.”

The title to the new album refers to apostasy, the state of having forsaken your professed belief set, often in favor of opposing beliefs or causes. Different from the band’s previous works, The Apostasy features choirs, piano interludes and a horn section. Overall, Nergal said the album is a bold statement on the current state of international Catholicism — the dominant faith among Poland’s populace. But only those willing to comprehend the message will get it.

“There’s a beautiful and very epic meaning behind this title, and it’s a great statement, because of its rebelliousness,” he explained. “Behemoth has always been about rejection, rebelling against various things. It’s not about rebelling against religion. The religious aspect is so important, especially in [this day and age] when the majority of wars are caused by religious conflicts. We actually speak about things that are present [on this album], that are important in the modern world. Smart people will be able to recognize this.

“This album is ritualistic,” he continued. “I would say that there is a barbaric touch to this record, and that’s what I love about music. This is a disturbing, dangerous record, and we are here to make people think. This is not just entertainment. People need to have this awareness that Behemoth isn’t just entertainment. We are a disturbing, dangerous band, and we do all of this to make people think for themselves. Kids these days, they have no one to really look up to. I think Behemoth’s message, some people at first might think it’s very negative. I think it’s actually very positive.”

Musically, The Apostasy is just as epic and extreme as anything Behemoth have done before, but there’s an intensity to the LP that’s been missing from the band’s previous efforts, Nergal said. The goal with this record wasn’t to just push the brutality envelope.

“I wanted to make sure that, when you play this music to a jazz musician or a classical musician, I want those people to listen and say, ‘This is controlled chaos,’ but then on the other hand, they’ll be like, ‘Hey, these guys really know how to play,’ ” Nergal enthused. “We are an extreme band. But extreme metal doesn’t mean you don’t have to have musical value. It’s a very musical record, and we’ve improved as musicians a lot. I just wanted to make sure extreme-metal music [could] also be very high-quality music.”

According to Nergal, Behemoth jumped at the chance to play this summer’s Ozzfest, despite the fact that they wouldn’t be paid to perform. They will have to rely exclusively on merch sales to get them through.

“It still feels unreal to me,” he said. “These people have to really have big balls to bring bands like Nile and Behemoth on the bill — to bring dangerous music to the masses. We are not the most mass-appeal, happy band around. We’re not a radio-friendly band either. I can’t wait to go onstage and just blast insane music for these people and see what their reaction is. I would say that we are going to do our best, [so that] people remember the shows. We’re ready to conquer the world.”

If you miss Behemoth this summer, don’t fret — Nergal said the band will be returning to the States this fall for a co-headlining run with Job for a Cowboy and Gojira. He also said fans can look forward to an EP — featuring live tracks and some outtakes from The Apostasy sessions — later this year and should expect a Behemoth DVD early next year.

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Antarctica space warriors Gwar just can’t get enough killing, so they’re planning to continue painting the ground blood-red this summer at numerous Sounds of the Underground off dates. First the group will play warm-up shows July 2 in Memphis; July 3 in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and July 4-5 in Dallas, where the Sounds tour begins July 6. Then, there will be five Gwar concerts between scheduled festival shows (July 9 in Mobile, Alabama; July 17 in Johnson City, New York; July 25 in Fargo, North Dakota; August 2 in Reno, Nevada; and August 9 in Kansas City, Missouri). Finally, after Sounds ends August 11 in Louisville, Kentucky, Gwar will play four more gut-spilling gigs, starting August 12 in Millvale, Pennsylvania, and ending August 15 in Richmond, Virginia. …

Machine Head took top honors in two categories at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, which took place last week in London. The band won Album of the Year and frontman Robb Flynn was named Golden God. Other winners included: Lamb of God (Best Live Band); Killswitch Engage (Best International Band); Heaven and Hell (Best Comeback); Job for a Cowboy (Best Underground Band); Slayer (Icon); Bullet for My Valentine (Best UK Band); Avenged Sevenfold (Best Video – “Seize the Day”); Slash (Riff Lord); Mastodon‘s Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds (Shredder); and Napalm Death (Spirit of Hammer). Needless to say, gallons of mead were consumed and trophies were presented by Beelzebub himself. …

Heaven and Hell (a.k.a. Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio) will return to the U.S. for a fall tour starting September 5 in Binghamton, New York. Dates are scheduled through October 2 in Fresno, California, and Alice Cooper and Queensrÿche will open all shows. … Thrash-metal documentary “Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal” won Grand Prize at the San Antonio Underground Film Festival. The Festival will present its top award to director Rick Ernst on Saturday at the movie’s screening at the city’s Aztec Theater. “I am proud, honored and could not be more excited to win the award and to screen the film in front of San Antonio’s legions of metalheads,” Ernst said in a statement. …

Experimental-metal outfit Protest the Hero have finished writing their second full-length album and are currently in Toronto’s Silo recording studio with producer Julius “Juice” Butty. Tracking will continue through August 1, and the album is tentatively scheduled for release in the fall. “The new album is a further attempt towards bridging the distance between technicality and musicality,” scholarly lyricist/bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi said in a statement. “We hope to use organized and creative songwriting to explore — both sonically and thematically — the emotions, ironies and realities of our surroundings. The songs probe the paradoxical nature of everyday life — chiefly that aggressive music is an adequate vessel to convey not only feelings of anger and frustration, but also wonder, pathos and optimism.” In other words, it’s gonna rock. …

Thunderous Los Angeles metal duo Big Business have announced that they’ll open for Tool on 14 dates starting Sunday in Hamilton, Ontario, and ending July 18 at a previously unannounced Tool show in Holmdel, New Jersey. … If you’re gonna be in Denver on Saturday, you might wanna drop in at Independent Records for a late lunch sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. That’s when Cephalic Carnage will be fire-roasting a whole goat to feed to the hungry masses. And we thought really evil bands were supposed to praise the goat, not cook it. After the feasting, Cephalic Carnage will play the Summer Slaughter Tour, which also features Decapitated, Cattle Decapitation, Arsis, As Blood Runs Black, the Faceless, Ion Dissonance and Beneath the Massacre. Dates are scheduled through July 10 in Philadelphia. …

The new Through the Eyes of the Dead album, Malice, will be released August 21. The disc was recorded with Erik Rutan (Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore) and is the band’s first to feature singer Nate Johnson, who replaces Anthony Gunnels. … The debut album from Montreal band the Agonist, Once Only Imagined, will come out August 14. Director David Brodsky recently shot a video for the album track “Business Suits and Combat Boots.” The Agonist will play dates with Epica and Visions of Atlantis in September before beginning a month of North American shows with Sonata Arctica. In October, the Agonist will continue their lengthy road trek with concerts opening for Overkill, then After Forever, and finally Enslaved. Dates are scheduled through December 4 in Nashville.