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Album review: Me And That Man – New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1

‘New Man’ is a fun ride that has some truly stellar moments on it and is easily a step up from its predecessor

Behemoth’s Nergal is a man that refuses to hold his talent and avenues back, digging into all kinds of ways to express himself. His primary band has gone from strength to strength and remains one of the top bands in the black/death metal genre, his autobiography was informative, well-written, and extremely entertaining, and then he decided to do a side project in 2017 – Me And That Man. It was his tribute to gothic country blues in collaboration with John Porter. The debut album, ‘Songs of Love and Death’, while entertaining, didn’t quite live up to its influences.

The follow-up record, ‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1’, is far more cohesive and enjoyable, and hits the darker territories with more impact. Using a volley of interesting guests, the swampy, arcane feel is prominent and the music is on a different level to its predecessor, if not quite the heights of Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, or Tom Waits.

Corey Taylor knocks it out of the park with How Come, backed by the badass strings of Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and Volbeat’s Rob Caggiano. A deep blues topped up with shadow and soul, it both highlights the writing and all the fine aspects of Taylor’s voice, and is one of the finest here. Also of note are By The River with Ihashn, You Will Be Mine with Matt Heafy (who does a stellar job of pushing his vocal range), album-closer Confession with Niklas from Shining, and the best of the lot, Deep Down South with Johanna Sadonis and Nicke Andersson from Lucifer. But the most telling of all is Mestwo, Mr Darski’s sole vocal on the record – his smoky voice is effective, if not terribly strong, but the song has a great Appalachian funeral vibe to it that evokes the romantic feel found on Nick Cave’s ‘Murder Ballads’ opus.

The on-point production and focus on traditional instruments makes for an eerie listen that is both uplifting and unsettling, and it’s perfect for the material contained within. But when it all comes down to it, it’s an entertaining album that highlights the strengths of the guests more than builds on the Nergal legacy, and therein lies the issue. Is the project merely a fun time-filler or is it meant to be an artistic statement where we dig in deeper to what makes up the Polish phenom? That question is neither raised nor answered with this second record and, as much fun as it is, comes and goes with little impact.

One can only assume that Me And That Man will continue as an outlet for Nergal, and there’s no need to rain on the parade – it’s always enjoyable to see a musician whose main direction is ridiculously heavy, evil, and bolstered with power make music from the other end of the spectrum, where they show their more human side and play with different moods entirely. And along with that, hearing guests that are also from the darker corners do the same with the equal gusto is a bonus, especially when those guests are folks like Corey Taylor and Ihashn. ‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1’ is a fun ride that has some truly stellar moments on it, and is easily a step up from its predecessor. Here’s just holding thumbs that we’ll see some introspection and dark personal material on album number three.

FFO: Nick Cave, Tom Waits

★★★✩✩

New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1 is out now via Napalm Records

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