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What makes a metal band?

Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg and Behemoth’s Nergal on what it means to be metal in 2017

One fronts a melodic death metal band who sing about Vikings and park enormous battleships on stages. The other commands the most significant extreme metal band of modern times. The thing that undeniably unites them both? Johan Hegg and Nergal are as metal as it gets. We brought the two cornerstones of heavy metal thunder together to talk about what it means to be a metal band in 2017, and whether our scene is as judgmental as people would have us believe.

What about the other side of the coin – bands that sound heavy but don’t look ‘metal enough’?

Johan: “I can’t think of a band I would project that on…”

Well, the most obvious modern example is Bring Me The Horizon, who were heavy when they started but were soundly cussed out by ‘traditional’ metal fans because of how they looked.

Nergal: “But they’re solid!”

Johan: “It’s not all about aesthetics. If the music is there, then obviously you are gonna like it, but in my opinion, aesthetics is an important part of metal. Maybe I wouldn’t follow some bands as much [if they looked a certain way]. Maybe I would still like it, but they wouldn’t be my favourite band because you want the whole package.”

Nergal: “I have this attitude where if I see everyone bashing one band, I’ll look for some justice for them. Like, ‘Fuck you, they’re actually good!’ You know what I mean? Although I do have problems with proportions. You get these big dudes in bands that are really well built, they’re massive, but they have tiny legs!”

So as long as you don’t skip leg day, you’re welcome here?

Nergal: “Ha ha, yeah! I’ve an aesthetic problem with that. But I have no problems with being a fan of fire and blood, but then the next day I’ll be like, ‘Hey, Blondie have a great new record!’ And that new Blondie record is awesome...”

Amon Amarth’s Jomsviking is out now via Metal Blade. Behemoth’s The Satanist is out now via Nuclear Blast. Me and that man’s songs of love and death is out now via Cooking Vinyl

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