REVIEW: ME AND THAT MAN – “Songs of Love and Death”
Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski is most notably the frontman for Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth, However, his latest side-project Me And That Man couldn’t possibly deviate further from the extreme metal genre. The project’s debut album, ‘Songs of Love and Death’, covers a wide range of sounds – from stripped back folk, to a mildly driven rock and even a little hint of country. Speaking on the change of pace, Nergal simply stated “With all the best art, once you have it in you, you have to release it. Otherwise, it becomes toxic and dangerous to your own system”.
“My Church Is Black” opens the album and immediately sets an obviously dark and mournful tone reminiscent of Nick Cave or Tom Waits. Featuring strummed guitars, harmonica melodies and an organ sitting subtly behind the rest of the instruments providing quite an eerie and almost ominous undertone. Accompanying all of this are lyrics such as “My church is black, my blood runs cold. The sun won’t shine for me no more.” The meaning behind this music is (much like the overall theme of the album) stripped back, raw, and very up-front. This is a message being delivered without room for misinterpretation.
“Of Love & Death” picks up the pace with a pulsing beat and busy bass lines whilst still leaving a lot of breathing room in terms of instrumentation. This song immediately draws to mind the track “Miserlou” by Dick Dale, albeit at a slower pace. This track is clearly highlighting the darker side of love and the bitterness it brings forth, with lyrics such as “At the end of the day, there is no one to blame. Love and death is all the same.”
“Voodoo Queen” continues the tale of poisonous love. Telling the story of meeting a woman, “beneath the blazing sun, she said: where you going to? I said: I’m going West, pretty lady. She gave me an evil smile and said: I’m kinda going there too… She’s a voodoo queen”. This sets up a narrative on how the things which hurt us can oftentimes be the things we are unable or unwilling to give up – as evidenced by the line, “We did everything we shouldn’t do. So many crazy, crazy nights under the full moon, I fell in love with her secret tattoo”. Whilst the lyrical content of this album is frank and very to-the-point, it’s obviously not without thought. Each song contains heavy topics which are able to inspire a lot of critical thinking and perhaps some self-evaluation too.
The lowdown? Whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, ‘Songs of Love and Death’ are infectious tunes that are very easy to relate to. Nergal has found himself with vocal lines and melodies unexpectedly popping up in his head several times over the last few days, which says a lot about the strength of his songwriting and the lyrical content.