Book Review: Confessions of A Heretic

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There are a lot of albums reviewed here on the toilet, but I thought I’d take some time and look at the literary side of our beloved genre, starting with our favorite Satanist and Behemoth frontman.  So, pop a squat, put your reading glasses on, and let’s take a look.

Allow me to first preface this review by saying this: I consider myself a casual Behemoth fan.  I like Evangelion, I jam out to “At the Left Hand ov God” pretty regularly, but that is the extent of my knowledge and interest in the band (although I have yet to see them live, which I’ve been told is an excellent experience).  That being said, there is no avoiding Behemoth’s larger-than-life, yet still enigmatic, frontman — Mr. Adam Nergal Darski.  He is one of our community’s most important modern-day figures, known both for his controversies and triumphs in equal measure.  Despite whatever misgivings or disinterest you may have regarding the band, it is hard not to admire, or at the very least respect, Nergal, especially in light of his struggles with life-threatening illness, antiquated religious laws, and a particular Polish pop-star in recent years.  In short, the man has been through a lot, and he has managed to come out of all of it stronger than before.

When I first heard that Nergal was planning on releasing a biography, I was very excited.  It was slated to be a great addition to the limited selection of “extreme metal” literature out there.  Besides the excellent Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (by Albert Mudrian) and Lords of Chaos (by Michael Jenkins Moynihan), there is not much out there for black/death/grind/doom/extreme metal heads.  That is unless you want to go ahead and read Slash’s memoir, or the one from the dude in Godsmack.  Yeah, didn’t think so.  When I finally got my hands on a copy of the English translation, I knew I had to give my fellow toileteers an idea of what to expect, as I know a few of you were as curious about the tome as I was.  So, did Confessions of A Heretic live up to the hype?  Let’s find out.

I encourage all toileteers to watch the trailers for Confessions of A Heretic.  Note: occult/religious paraphernalia, motorcycle, aviators, cigar, and attractive nude woman not included with the purchase of this memoir.  Those items can all be found in the “21st Century Satanist Starter Set” 

Remember those lolbuttz’y video ads for the book?  You know, the ones that looked like an edgy cologne ad for all those metrosexual satanists out there?  Well, there are certainly a few sections of the text that feel just like those ads, particularly when discussing the fairer sex (he comes across as a man who is comfortable being at once chivalric and chauvinistic in a seemingly impossible union of those opposing traits).  However, for every moment that Nergal indulges in his indomitable, Luciferian icon persona, there are attendant flashes of humanity and some welcome humility.  I was especially hooked while reading about his fight with leukemia, which is located close to the climactic center of the book.  Again, we’ve all seen his militaristic confidence in post-illness interviews, but the candid nature of this section in the book reveals just the kind of uncertainty and less-than-favorable odds at survival that Nergal was facing upon diagnosis.  He does not hold back in telling readers his reaction, in which he reacts as I imagine any of us, myself included, would: anger, frustration, hopelessness, and ultimately, fear.  This “human” moment is somewhat overshadowed by the other larger-than-life aspects of his life that seem to take priority in the text, but it certainly provides readers with something from which to draw inspiration, especially for individuals in similar predicaments.

nergaljudge

BUY CONFESSIONS OF A HERETIC  Also note: I did not cover any of the sections that discussed Nergal’s appearance on the Polish “Voice” in this review.  It did not interest me nearly as much as the other aspects of his life story.

The book, for better or worse depending on your level of tolerance of the man, essentially reinforces the F.O.A.D. attitude with which Nergal approaches life.  One particular example that resonated with me was the juxtaposition of perspectives on an incident at a Kentucky music festival that involved a crowd of devout Christians and a shredded/torn/defiled/consumed-and-digested bible.  Randy Blythe gives the first version of events that transpired at this Kentucky shit-show in his excellent foreword.  He more or less summarizes the incident — which involved Nergal shredding a bible on stage in front of a predominantly Christian crowd — as a real live “oh shit, we’re gonna die” moment, to quote Mr. Blythe directly.  Nergal’s response to this incident is, on the other hand, characteristically nonchalant, turning a potentially dangerous situation involving thousands of drunk, angry Evangelical Americans into a laughable event whose only significance is that it spawned a new Behemoth stage tradition designed purely with provocation in mind.  This is the Nergal we know and love: musician/provocateur/edge-lord.

If you are looking for a history of Behemoth, stay away.  If you are looking for an engaging biography, think twice: the extended long-form interview format is clunky at times and makes for a challenging read.  If you want a closer look into the motivations of a man who has reclaimed Satanism from all those misguided middle-schoolers out there (arguably), then I encourage you to check it out.  After completing the book, I feel as though I have not learned very much: besides some humanizing moments centered on the main acts of his upbringing, his fight with leukemia, and his nasty, public break-up with Dorota, the Nergal we already know remains the same.  Adam Nergal Darski has carefully built a public persona over the years, and this memoir seems more like an opportunity to reinforce that persona rather than an unfiltered recollection of life as an extreme metal musician.  Despite this, I ultimately enjoyed my time with Confessions of A Heretic, even though it’s untraditional biography format and method of story-telling made it feel like a race to the finish line at times.

Confessions of A Heretic rates a 3 out of 5 toilets ov hell

TOILETSCALE_3_of_5

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  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • Ayo, OMD: You ever read Sound of the Beast by Ian Christe? It’s a good ‘un.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      The ones published by Bazillion Points are fantastic. Swedish Death Metal, Murder in the Front Row, Metalion Slayer Mag Diaries, Only Death is Real……..

    • old_man_doom

      I have not. I tend to stay away from books on music unless there’s a specific factor that draws me in (i.e. Nergal being Nergal). I’ll check it out though

  • CyberneticOrganism

    … … … Nergal.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Very interesting review! I actually wouldn’t mind checking this out at some point. Adding it to the list of things I need to read.

    • old_man_doom

      It’s definitely a good choice for reading on the shitter. If you don’t mind reading a 400pg interview, then I’d say go for it!

      • Zeke

        The slash bio was fantastic, btw. Especially when he got to the use your illusion period

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Behemoth has made alright music and was never outright bad, but the less I hear about Nergal, the happier I am. I don’t like the man. At all.

    • tertius_decimus

      +1. Amount of selfishness in every thing he says/does (other than Behemoth) is overwhelming.

      • old_man_doom

        He is definitely focuses on constructing and maintaining this persona for the public. My main problem with the book is that he doesn’t step out of that persona but for a few human instances.

        • tertius_decimus

          That’s fair. He’s risking to pass the point of no return where nobody will care about his true human face any more. Case in point: Till Lindemann. He could have been an iconic person having such a strong charisma (and sportive background), however he have chosen to be a freak. Hypocritical freak. Poking into keyboardist’s ass with huge rubber dildo while saying “I’m shy to play on stage and be on public” — that’s sheer double-faceness.

    • Maik Beninton™

      I don’t listen to Behemoth enough but it feels like it’s a hit or miss for me.

  • CyberneticOrganism
  • KJM, Doom Hunter General
  • KJM, Doom Hunter General
  • Uh, he really is into satanism? I thought he was atheist or whatever. Is he really into his own stage persona?

    Well, I never liked Behemoth but this was a fun read.

    Also, did he mentioned something about his beef with that Graveland guy?

    • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

      I always assume satanists are just as half-witted as christians.

      • I don’t tend to associate exclusively the beliefs system with bad behaviour. I always think that every person have some shitty moments that I will ignore anyway.

        • Based Pingu

          There are a few groups whose belief system I immediately associate with shitty behaviour. Nazis, racists, MRAs, extreme feminists, conspiracy theorists, militant atheists, religious fundamentalists, humanists and all that other shit.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Penguins

          • Based Pingu
          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Chek ur privilege penguin

          • Based Pingu

            Don’t need to I’m half black,

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Racist

          • Based Pingu

            I’m half black, half white, I can’t be racist.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            I know all you guys up there hate muslims

          • Based Pingu

            Many do, I’ve no problem with most of them. As long as they don’t want to bring sharia law (which most of them don’t want to) here. I have a bigger problem with our christians that are striving for theocracy even as we speak.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Sounds way too much like America. And here i was thinking about expatriation

          • Based Pingu

            Nationalism just makes me want to painfully kill myself. Gosh dang immigants are ruining pure and white Finland!

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            I have old friends who moved to sweden that share the same sentiment now.

        • old_man_doom

          Ultimately, this is how I feel about Nergal. In my opinion, he’s never done anything that has offended me to the point where I completely disapprove of him. He just has some interesting and not-so-great characterisitics. If Nergal was relatively harmless and didn’t do anything to upset people, then we wouldn’t be talking about him.

    • old_man_doom

      He talks a lot about the metaphorical Satan and his ideologies on freedom and liberty, but it’s all through the Satanist lens. Sure, he doesn’t like any religion, but he uses Satanism as both a shock tactic and a symbol for rebellion. In fact, he even admits some attraction to the Norse gods and the ideologies therein.

    • old_man_doom

      He mentions the Graveland dude, but only in good terms. Nergal tends to be very accomodating when it’s convenient.

  • KJM, Doom Hunter General
  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • RustyShackleford

    I remember reading an excerpt from the book (probably on The Blog Which Shall Not Be Named…oops) and thinking he came across as a DICK when talking about women/dating. I like Behemoth (duh) but he sounds like a self-righteous son of a bitch and I can’t stand that shit. Yup.

  • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS
  • CyberneticOrganism

    I’d be interested to read what he has to say about his leukemia diagnosis and how that clashed with his own (or Behemoth’s) anti-religious sentiment, since that kind of diagnosis can throw the fear of god into anyone, but sections where he’s ranting about women, society, etc. can fuck right off.

    • old_man_doom

      The book does address this exact point. He has a very human moment with his diagnosis: fear, doubt, etc. However, in typical Nergal style, he doubles down on his persona and views his condition not in terms spiritual crisis but rather militaristicially. He emphasizes very emphatically that he never even considered turning to “the light”.

  • Max

    Great review.

    “…there is not much out there for black/death/grind/doom/extreme metal heads.”

    I must beg to differ! I’ve got three Slayer books, two Tom G. Warrior ones, Black Metal – The Evolution of a Cult, Extremity Retained – An Oral History of Death Metal, Precious Metal (the Decibel Hall of Fame compendium), Metallion’s Slayer Mag Diaries, Daniel Ekeroth’s Swedish Death metal, and a couple of others if you stretch the definition of “extreme” a little.

    And I could write reviews on any of them if anybody wanted to read my blatherings. In fact, I even have an unfinished article of such sitting on my computer.

    • old_man_doom

      Good point. I haven’t investigated the ones you’ve mentioned. I just know that Lords of Chaos is essential for everyone.

      • Waynecro

        Lords of Chaos is awesome. I did a report on that book for a sociology class back in the day. I think it scared the teacher.

      • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

        Read it, and it seemed a bit disorganized and kept going to the same scenarios and people over and over again. Reading it, the guys seemed infantile and wonky as fuck (which is definitely true in Varg’s case).
        They’re making a movie out of it, BTW, and the guys mentioned in the book are livid as fuck over it.

    • of course Max, i’d read anything you write.
      also, “Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir”, huehuehue

    • Waynecro

      Extremity Retained: Notes from the Death Metal Underground by Jason Netherton from Misery Index is a good read. And it came with a mix tape!

      • old_man_doom

        Shit! I totally forgot about that one. It came out recently, right? I’d like to check it out.

        • Waynecro

          I think it came out in April. I enjoyed it a lot.

      • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

        My favorite heavy metal book, and it came with an awesome mix CD. As soon as my best friend gave me this, I knew he was a friend for life.

        http://auctions.c.yimg.jp/images.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/image/ra178/users/0/9/5/7/catching_rainbow-img449x600-1435382609xyq3cu17699.jpg

        Fuck, ANY of Rockdetector’s books are a gold mine of metal info.

        • Waynecro

          If a friend gave me this book, I’d know he was fucking with me. If you’re jazzed on power metal, I can see why you’d dig the book, though. And I’m a fan of books’ coming with CDs; I think that’s a neat idea.

          • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

            They also have ones for doom/stoner metal, black metal and death metal. All pretty comprehensive.

          • Waynecro

            Thanks for the tip. I may have to check some of those out.

    • Vote for Jeb

      When I finish up Borges, I’m going to start on Choosing Death.

  • Waynecro

    Zos Kia Cultus remains my favorite Behemoth album.

    • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

      I’d love to see how many jimmies they’d have rustled if they toured the Middle East for ‘The Apostasy’.

  • Fine Sexy Ladies

    I fucking loathed the long-form interview structure of the book. Beyond Blythe’s foreword and chapter titles, there was no context given for any text whatsoever. And it was crystal clear where the interviewer pieced separate interviews together by seemingly copying and pasting text.

  • KJM, Doom Hunter General

    SATAN likes this band better.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVgMOtWkTj4

  • Huggy Bear OH YEAH

    Chauvinism is a prerequisite for chivalry, not incompatible with it, I think. If a guy thinks women are in some way inferior (male chauvinism), he will be able to imagine himself as a knight in shining armour protecting the “weak” women he happens to care for (compare with the “Southern gentleman” stereotype, he needs his belle (And the black slave) to be a gentleman). If a guy thinks that both sexes are equal in their capabilities, he’ll rather say “you take care of that damn dragon yourself, he’s after YOU!” At least that’s how I understand it.

    • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

      Chicks dig guys who slay dragons for them, hence why power metal fans get ALL the chicks!

      • KJM, Doom Hunter General

        They do?

        • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

          Me and Randall are living proof.

          • KJM, Doom Hunter General

            I’ll take you at your word.

  • KJM, Doom Hunter General
  • 365chaosriddendays

    I dont’ like the fashion style, rip out the pages of Bible was useless, the lyrics are better when inspired by philosophy to me but I respect him as artist, I will read this book one day. I like Behemoth a lot, this song is a masterpiece to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hVj32UmUyQ

    • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

      Ripping up the Bible would’ve been useless here in the States (yawn, Marilyn Manson, yawn), but the fact it showed Poland’s ridiculous laws about offending religious people (Aka, Christians, esp. Poland’s mostly Catholic population. I’m sure the Polish government couldn’t care less if they were ripping up the Koran), especially after they got in trouble legally over it.

      • 365chaosriddendays

        I agree, polish laws against blasphemy are ridiculous and a limitation of freedom of expression, so, I cant’ say that religion sucks because some conservative part of the nation could be offended, well, be offended does not mean that you are right and criticism is legal, so, yeah, sounds like a filth hypocrisy to me, I’m sure too if Nergal had the Quran in his hands that day the christians wouldn’t bat an eye. In the end, I’m glad that Nergal won because the court has decide that behaviour is not a crime. I wrote “rip out the pages of Bible was useless” because, you know, you could have legal matters, that’s all!

  • tigeraid

    I enjoyed this review, and look forward to more book reviews. I am an egghead and I like my booky-wooks.

    • old_man_doom

      I think I’d like to try some fiction books too that are relatively “metal” (i.e. horror, sci-fi, etc.)

  • Sgt. Poopypanty’s Fartin Teeth

    I’ve been looking forward to his, but time for now is so cramped to fit in any reading. Plus I just started up ‘Autumn Of The Patriarch’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. As with anything of his, it’s a lot going on and a lot to wrap your head around. If this ever comes to audiobook, I’ll happily check it out right away.

    And yes, Behemoth is a fucking beast live! Their CD’s are great, but they are even better live. They are a fucking steamroller live.

  • KJM, Doom Hunter General

    Bobby Blotzer’s Ratt Experience Featuring Bobby Blotzer W/Special Guest Jizzy Pearl! http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/exclusive-warren-demartini-is-totally-against-bobby-blotzer-using-ratt-name-for-tribute-band/