Hywel Davies says his prayers as he chats with Behemoth bassist Tomasz ‘Orion’ Wróblewski about the most maleficent bass sound on the planet.
Polish extreme metallers Behemoth were formed in 1991, and all these years later, Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski (guitar, vocals), Patryk ‘Seth’ Sztyber (guitar), Tomasz ‘Orion’ Wróblewski (bass) and Zbigniew ‘Inferno’ Prominski (drums) have achieved unholy levels of bombast. Stand clear, unbelievers…
With eight records already in the bag, it was Behemoth’s 2014 masterpiece The Satanist that finally cemented them as a force to be reckoned with. As a triumph in modern metal, any follow-up record would have to be pretty spectacular - but four years later, I Loved You At Your Darkest is their most convincing album to date.
As the band’s fifth and longest-standing bassist, Wróblewski’s impact on this record - and indeed on the band’s sound as a whole - is significant. Chatting to him over the phone, he makes it clear to us that his and Behemoth’s priorities are centred around nothing but the music. By disregarding any personal ambition, does that relieve him of some of the responsibility as a bass player, we ask?
“After being with this band for such a long time, I feel more responsibility now more than ever,” answers Wróblewski.
“There’s a lot of space in Behemoth’s music for bass today, especially on this album. When I approach my arrangements, I’m not thinking about myself at all. I think about the song, the concept of the album and just listen to the music. I’m not even looking at my fingers on the fretboard; I don’t want to see them. I just want to listen to what I’m playing and do what I want to do. I’m listening to the entire band; I never try to be an outstanding feature. Bass guitar is definitely an underrated instrument in metal music for sure, but I’m not trying to push it too far forward, you know? Everything needs a balance.
“Today, when it comes to my writing I’m thinking way more as a bass player,” he adds. “At first, I was a guitar player and I started learning bass around 2001. That was about the same time I joined Behemoth. At first, I was playing guitar for them for a few months, then switched to bass. I wasn’t a good bass player back then; I’m still not a good bass player now,” he laughs.
We’re not sure the folks down at ESP would agree with Tomasz’s sentiments there. They’ve been impressed enough by his playing to work closely with him to construct his gorgeous Orion-5 signature model, after all. With its simple yet ominous black satin finish and classic P-Bass shape, you can feel the waves of malevolence radiating from this beast. What was the thought behind this design, we wonder?
“As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to appreciate more classically styled instruments,” he explains. “I had quite a few custom-made ESP basses before and they were usually based on very modern constructions. When it finally came to designing a signature model, I wanted to get back into more classical styles. We based this model around the LTD AP shape, but it’s basically a Precision bass. The body is made of alder with a bolt-on maple neck designed specifically for me. It’s always how I wanted a P-Bass to look.”
Asked if he has any words of advice for our readers, after a quick pause his answer cuts straight to the bone:
“It’s not about looking for that golden piece of advice; it doesn’t exist. There are a lot of opportunities today that weren’t there for me when I was starting out. Living in a country that was behind the Iron Curtain for such a long time, I had to struggle a little more.
“So, when I’m looking at the kids today and the young people learning their instruments by watching YouTube videos, I just don’t feel it’s the way to do it. The way to do it is within the person themselves. I don’t think there’s any help or general advice out there that could help you or anyone find this answer. You must find this yourself. But what it really takes is just hard fucking work.”
I Loved You At Your Darkest is out now on Nuclear Blast.