Overall Score: 9/10 Emotional depth: 10/10 Malevolence: 10/10 Catchiness: 9/10 Pros: A wonderfully sinister presentation of folk at its darkest Cons: A little on the long side
Me and That Man‘s debut album ‘Songs of Love and Death‘ reveals an unexpectedly smooth side to Behemoth frontman Nergal and his partner in crime John Porter.
Nergal’s darkly manipulative talents were already clear from the moment he donned his signature corpse paint for Behemoth, but the concept of Me and That Man has lurked in the shadows for a long time. Finally unleashing a generous collection of sinister folk-infused darkness, the artist formerly known as Adam Darski sounds as comfortable as ever behind an acoustic guitar.
Latter-day Johnny Cash takes a turn for the sinister in lead single ‘My Church is Black’, while harmonica jams and an understated guitar presence frame the intense foreboding of Nergal’s vocals. Having learned the tricks of menace through Behemoth, the cavernous doom-bearing tones of ‘Ain’t Much Loving’ are delivered expertly and honestly. Loss of faith and compassion are such complex human emotions that translate effortlessly throughout.
An almost David Bowie-esque lighter tone befits ‘Nightride’ while the almost wistful ‘Magdalene’ holds a consuming rhythm at its heart. The rare optimism of ‘One Day’ and ‘Get Outta This Place’ briefly glance to a positive future escaping the town and its troubles, but of course it’s not long before the mortality reflection of ‘Better the Devil I Know’ consumes all signs of hope.
The toe-tapping contagion of ‘On the Road’ feels as if Nergal was born with a cigarette hanging nonchalantly out of the corner of his devilish smirk. Country’s signature groove takes centre stage for the energetic ‘Shaman Blues’ and the rousing ‘Voodoo Queen’ yet the raw soul-bearing ‘Cross My Heart and Hope to Die’ soon returns matters to the morbid, closing on childlike chants that would give chills to even those of steely demeanour.
As vitally disturbing as the shadowy figure lurking in the shadows in a dive bar, Me and That Man are a phenomenal side project well worth stepping out of the comfort zone.
‘Songs of Love and Death’ is out on 24th March via Cooking Vinyl.