Behemoth main man Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski started Me And That Man as a solo project with folk stalwart John Porter. Their debut album ‘Songs Of Love and Death’ released in 2017, was as far removed from the extreme metal of Behemoth as you could get. Bringing together influences of Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, their sound was an amalgamation of blues, country and folk music all wrapped up in glorious gothic-laced goodness.
Following the departure of Porter, Nergal called on the extreme metal fraternity to help him out when it came to the challenge of recording the sophomore album, fittingly entitled ‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1’. With Nergal taking a back seat in the vocal department, this album features contributions from members of Slipknot, Trivium and Emperor amongst many others…but not as you would know them.
First single and album opener ‘Run With The Devil’ shows a change in direction with a tongue-in-cheek ‘Deathproof’ style promo video, and a new dark sense of humour. It’s a blast of rock ‘n’ roll featuring the vocal talents of Jørgen Munkeby from Norwegian proggers Shining. In the video Nergal and Munkeby can be seen burying a body labelled ‘John’ and then drinking a toast by chinking bottles labelled ‘Porter’, an obvious reference to the departed ‘that man’ and the metaphorical burying of the past. Musically, it’s an upbeat, sleazy blast of rock ‘n’ roll, with cool vocals and saxophone that injects some sass and sex into the gothic melting pot. The “my heart is pure, but my church is black” refrain is effortlessly cool and carries on Nergal’s continued fight against the church.
Gothic is still the operative word with Me And That Man. Grave Pleasures vocalist Mat Mcnerney delivers one of the early highlights on ‘Burning Churches’. It’s all Nick Cave poetic lyricism with a Danzig-like vocal delivery. The minimal instrumentation, tribal beats and cool, church choir vocals give a cinematic quality. This could’ve come straight off the ‘Henry’s Dream’ album if I didn’t know any better.
Elsewhere, ‘Coming Home’, has Madrugada main man Sivert Høyem crooning Ian Astbury inspired lyrics like an 80’s goth lord at his finest, while Rome’s Jérome Reuter keeps things dark and doomy with the Fields Of The Nephilim styled ‘Man Of The Cross’.
Then Nergal takes us to church on the soulful and haunting ‘Surrender’. Featuring the raspy vocals of Dead Soul singer Anders Landelius and sweet slide guitar courtesy of Volbeat’s Rob Caggiano, it builds with intensity to a captivating crescendo.
There are many different vocal styles at play, and it could have easily lacked cohesion as an album, but it still flows nicely as a complete body of work. ‘Deep Down South’ is upbeat, moonshine swiggin’ goodness, featuring banjo, fiddle and harmonica. The duel vocals of Lucifer’s Johanna Sadonis and Hellacopters legend (and Lucifer drummer) Nicke Andersson work perfectly together. Sweet guitar solo too. The Devil went down to Georgia indeed, via Poland and Sweden obviously!
Emperor main man Ihsahn joins for one of the more spaghetti western themed moments. And I must say you would not know it was him, stripped of the high pitched black, metal screaming and challenged to actually ‘sing’, he pulls off one of the performances of the album on ‘By The River’. It’s all ringing chords, Tarantino vibes and drama, with an over the top killer guitar solo that lays the whole place to waste as a climax, cool as you like.
One of the most surprising highlights is ‘You Will Be Mine’ featuring Trivium’s Matt Heafy as you’ve never heard him before. The mainly acoustic, laid back track sees the singer bare his soul, out of his comfort zone, crooning Nergal’s dark lyrics to perfection over a burst of chilled harmonica. He nails it perfectly.
The epic ‘How Come?’ features Slipknot’s Corey Taylor taking the lead, guitars from Volbeat’s Rob Caggiano and a blistering guitar solo from Mastadon’s Bret Hinds, how could it fail to impress?
Hats off to Nergal, with ‘…Vol 1’ he has succeeded in realising his vision and encouraged all the players to reach out of their comfort zone and become characters in his spaghetti western/goth rock hybrid. This is how I imagine outlaw country should truly sound. While it’s self-produced, Me and That Man’s sophomore album feels like Rick Rubin has collaborated with Tarantino, stripped the fat, accentuated the cinematic and dark appeal of the songs and produced an upbeat and cohesive body of work that in actual fact just so happens to be a monster of a rock record.
Buy a copy Here