Black Metal comes face to face with Folk traditions in Varmia’s new album, bal Lada.
Pagan Metal might actually be better label than Black Metal for Poland’s Varmia. The use of traditional instruments gives a Folk Metal influence and intonation, but it is more than that – the compositions themselves are affected by the traditional music. The new one is the third full-length album from the band since 2017, and the musicians are Lasota (guitar and vocals), Alle (bass), Svarrge (drums), and Piotr (percussion and traditional instruments).
The sounds of birds and nature are interrupted first by pounding percussion then by a heavy guitar riff in the opening track, “Woanie.” Traditional folk choral voices give way to a gravely metal lead right at the end of the intro device, and the first landscape begins to be revealed with the next track.
The music both combines and vacillates between passages that are consistent with what you might hear from other heavy bands and pagan ritual music, but there is always something different going on in every song – sometimes it is a turn of phrase and sometimes it is a goat horn. The music is undeniably heavy and weighty (not the same thing at all), and the integration of pagan ideals with Black and Death Metal tropes and trials is fascinating.
The traditional elements sometimes come through in a particularly focused way, as with “Upperan.” Even so, the metal never melts away. I get deeper feelings of the darker side of nature in this song particularly. “O” is another excellent example of this, and even more so as I think about it – I have never heard anything like this music. The album captivated me from start to finish. Recommended.
Bal Lada drops this Friday, March 12th and can be accessed at Bandcamp. More information can be had at the M-Theory Audio website (link below).