Knowing the dedication, passion, and unparalleled work ethic that have gone into Adam "Nergal" Darski's quest to make BEHEMOTH one of the most successful and beloved extreme metal bands in the world makes the news of his being diagnosed with leukemia even more upsetting. Few have had the vision and unshakable determination of Nergal who has worked tirelessly since his teenage years in carrying out this mission. That he is such a genuinely nice guy and goes to great lengths to give his band's fans the complete package each and every time, whether live or in the studio, further attests to his deserved status as heavy metal icon and all-around quality human being. All of those qualities are evident on "Evangelia Heretika", a five-hour, two-DVD/one-CD set that offers keen insight into the inner workings of the elite Polish unit through two documentary segments; two phenomenal live performances; and several quality extras.
Disc 1 contains a pair of incendiary live performances, an 18-song set from Warsaw in 2009 and a 14-song set from Paris in 2008. Both combine BEHEMOTH's striking visuals (stage garb, props, and all-around presence), superb musicianship, and just plain great songs. Many groups talk of their music being best experienced in a live setting, but BEHEMOTH is one of a handful where that talk is walked. You'd be hard-pressed to find a band that sets the intensity bar high from the opening intro tape and keeps it that way until the final note is played. In all honestly, there are several moments through these performances where one wonders whether the heat generated from the playing may set the stage aflame. The energy level for the Polish show is unusually intense even by BEHEMOTH standards and Nergal seems demonically possessed for the duration. The sound is great and the visual production is professional, yet held back enough so that the viewer still feels the raw energy of the performance almost to the point of feeling like he/she is right there in the crowd.
Interestingly enough, the one aspect of the "Evangelia Nova" documentary that is brought up repeatedly in discussions with Polish fans is the frustration at the lack of Polish media recognition for BEHEMOTH's international successes. It is no secret that BEHEMOTH's (arguably) blasphemous philosophies has not exactly been met with a warm embrace from the Polish government, but it is the lack of respect for the quartet's worldwide achievements that burns the assess of so many in this fan-centric piece. Those achievements are most notable on the more traditional of the two documentaries, "De Arte Heretika", during which the viewer witnesses firsthand BEHEMOTH conquering continents that they'd previously softened up with early guerilla touring campaigns. All the road work that took place prior to breaking on through to the other side with 2004's "Demigod" paid off in a big way, as the band is seen destroying stages on a series of hugely successful tours, including the Mayhem and Ozzfest jaunts across the States. The member interviews are just thorough enough to be informative without ever seeming bloated with needless facts, thanks to the surgically precise editing.
In typical Metal Blade fashion, "Evangelia Heretika" is assembled with care and designed for maximum bang for the bunk. No less than nine videos sweeten the pot and the bonus audio CD from the Warsaw show will come in handy for your stressful work commute. The good news for Nergal is that a bone marrow donor has been found and the medical wheels are in motion. Keep your fingers crossed. Something tells me Nergal will emerge victorious once again.