Black Metal Meets Bone Marrow

Currently, a search for “bone marrow” in Google News returns two major stories: a new bill that was passed in New Jersey to promote bone marrow donation, and a story about Polish black/death metal band frontman Nergal. Wait, what?

Behemoth, a blackened death metal band from Poland is the essence of extreme metal. Not only are they musically incredible, but the live show, lyrics, and in general “ethos” of the band is top-notch. Formed in 1991, they started as another underground metal band from Europe, slowly rising and gaining popularity until their jaw-dropping opus “Demigod” in 2004 that solidified their place as the kings of black/death. The two albums since have been of a similiar vein, winning various best album, band, and guitarist awards in Poland and around the world.

Their frontman Nergal is a charismatic, devilishly charming frontman who, I think, defends both the idea of extreme metal and Behemoth’s own blasphemous “message” very well. As a guest on a Polish variety show he describes why the music of Behemoth transcends the archaic shock-and-awe, gore-laden, Satanic heavy metal we all know and love:

What we are doing [with] our music and contents [i.e., lyrics] that you were asking about is showing that there is an alternative. Imagine two rooms but [that] circumstances [in] which we live in allow you to open only one of them. We want to be the key that tells you “Hey, enter the second room – maybe there is something cool.”

See the full interview, with poor but honest translation, here.

The bone marrow connection? Sadly, Nergal has been diagnosed with leukemia and is now in dire need of a bone marrow transplant. I knew little about the process until reading up on it thanks to a Lambgoat post: there exists a National Marrow Donor Program which operates Be The Match Registry. Why is “matching” the marrow donor so important? The website explains:

Because the markers used in matching are inherited, patients are more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity. Adding more donors and cord blood units from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to the Be The Match Registry increases the likelihood that all patients will find the match they need.

What is interesting to me is that Nergal’s illness is such high-ranking news. I think this speaks to Behemoth’s success, and also the impact it has on the metal community at large. While this event is a tragedy, having it happen to an icon in the genre puts the cause at the forefront. has a wealth of information on becoming a donor, or you can donate to them monetarily.