With Behemoth’s ‘The Satanist’ being at page one, line one in modern extreme metal’s almanac of quality, it’s hardly surprising to see frontman Nergal wanting to spread his wings out into new pastures. As such, we get Me And That Man, his collaboration with British/Polish musician John Porter. And one which couldn’t be further removed from his day job, factoring in country and blues with the only remaining element being the constant sense of dread.
In what will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, ‘Songs Of Love And Death’ is a borderline masterpiece that shows a new side to an artist that’s just as compelling as the one we already know. The most impressive thing is how natural it all sounds – Nergal’s half Nick Cave, half Johnny Cash croon on ‘Cross My Heart And Hope To Die’ rolls in the earthy gloom that makes those artists so great, while tracks like ‘On The Road’ and ‘Voodoo Queen’ owe a lot to Mark Lanegan and Tom Waits in their rolling, weathered guitars, but manages to do justice to each.
What’s more, there’s a masterful retention of tone and atmosphere here. It’s not a heavy album by any means, but it feels heavier, thanks to the dark, cavernous production on tracks like ‘Of Sirens, Vampires And Lovers’, or the ghostly harmonica passages on ‘My Church Is Black.
It’s hard not to become enthralled in ‘Songs Of Love And Death’. Even as a side project, Me And That Man have more power and potency than most bands do regularly, and this album, one that could only be pulled off by a master musician, takes this sound to its absolute pinnacle.
‘Songs Of Love And Death’ by Me And That Man is released on 24th March on Cooking Vinyl.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)