Behemoth's Nergal

Behemoth’s Nergal & The Haunted’s Ola Englund Weigh In On Modern Metal Being Too “Robotic”


Behemoth vocalist/guitarist Nergal Adam “Nergal” Darski recently made headlines when he lamented the current state of metal. Speaking with Heavy [via], Nergal claimed that the increasingly prevalent usage of technology to perfect everything in extreme metal has robbed it of its “danger”. He stated:

“Every band these days, you talk to every band, and every band—literally—heavy metal band, thrash, death, whatever, says, ‘Oh, we managed to get that organic sound.’ And then I go and listen to those records and I’m, like, ‘There’s nothing organic about this record.’ Ninety-nine percent of the records, they sound robotic. Every fucking click, every kick, every snare drum, every part of the record is exactly the same.

It’s not organic. ‘Organic’ is when music fluctuates, when there’s dynamics, when it goes up and down. That’s why we tapped Joe Barresi. You know him for his work with Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, Monster Magnet and a lot of rock bands. Slipknot… Basically, rock bands, mainstream bands. And he does this old-school mixing.

He doesn’t use Pro Tools. I mean, he uses Pro Tools, but then, when he’s done with one song, he just pulls all the knobs down and starts from scratch. You go, ‘Hey, but I wanted to do some tweaks in the previous one.’ ‘Sorry, it’s done.’ You’ve got to pay for everything again. So [when] it’s done, it’s done. You don’t endlessly go and correct that, which is beautiful. Twenty, thirty years ago, it was done that way.”

He added:

“These days, you can fucking perfect things to the point that you cannot fucking listen to it, because the perfection makes things boring, imperfect and a whole lot uninteresting. Live, it’s not perfect; that’s why it’s so fucking exciting. So why make things that are just so fucking polished?

I don’t get it, especially in extreme metal music. It’s gotta be fucking weird, it’s gotta be dangerous. Where is the danger factor? So I really wanted to bring the danger factor back to our music. It was present, but maybe this is the record [“Opvs Contra Natvram“] [where] it’s the most present ever.”

Ola Englund, guitarist for The Haunted and a notable guitar-centric YouTuber, has largely agreed with Nergal‘s assessment, albeit he feels the situation is a bit more nuanced. Englund offered:

“Metal news magazines online can quote me on this one when I say that these are the words of an old metal fart – just like me. I absolutely agree with what he’s saying right here. I grew up on albums that were not recorded on a computer; where bands had to really perform well, really know their music before they even hit the studio. And you know, they would just perfect their craft and get a real live groove happening on an album.

I’m used to that, I bet that Nergal is also used to that. Nowadays, when you hear death metal bands that have 240 BPM per minute songs, and it’s just a grid of kicks, and snares, and perfectly synced guitars – it is a little bit weird. It does sound robotic.”

“But that’s the thing about music, the newer generation that grew up and started listening [to metal] later – they’re used to this. Maybe that’s a sound they like, this completely robotic, super-tight kind of sound. So, I guess it’s really subjective.

A guy like me, and a guy like Nergal – we like when stuff is grooving. I’ve said this a bunch of times, but I like to leave mistakes in albums, because it’s the mistakes and the grooves that make an album unique. I see Nergal is getting a lot of shit for his statement right here.

But to some extent, I kind of agree with him. I can still enjoy a really good modern death metal band where everything is robotic; that has its own flavor to it. But I, personally, like to hear when a band is playing, you know, off the top of their lungs, and you can almost hear the wheels coming off a little bit. You know, it’s supposed to hurt. A lot of things are polished today and it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt the ear. I like when it hurts, if that makes sense.”

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