Trauma, Acrimony (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

Veteran Polish Death Metal titans Trauma add to their canon with Acrimony.

Since the early 1990s Trauma has been writing powerful Death Metal music. They fit in perfectly with the strong tradition of heavy metal bands in Poland and their compositions have a traditional feel to them and a polished production. The band is Arkadiusz Sinica (drums), Jarosław Misterkiewicz (guitar, bass), and Artur Chudewniak (vocals).

Last year’s Ominous Black album was well received by fans and the songs from the new EP Acrimony were recorded at the same time. There is a beautiful stylistic connection in the album cover art to match the cabalistic connection between the previous LP and the new set. If you liked the album you are going to want this companion to go with it. One does not feel quite complete without the other.

“Internal Sacrifice” is a stylized epic metal song, with a big build and a massive payoff. “The Godless Abyss” has a more direct approach and also has a theatrical construction. “Reign of Terror” quietens down a bit, at least at the start. The solitude does not last long and the peaceful serenity is dismembered by blast beats and crushing riffs.

The final song is a cover of the Gorefest favorite “Reality When You Die.” This is the longest track and it is rager once it gets going, seeming to have a ravenous need to engulf you. These four tracks form an excellent set to take us through until the next album comes out. Recommended.

Acrimony is out now from Selfmadegod Records and is available through Bandcamp as well as the other usual outlets. Take a minute to think about rounding up some other Trauma releases while you are at it if you don’t have them yet.

Links.

Website, http://www.traumaofficial.com/

Bandcamp, https://traumadeath.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TraumaOfficialPage

Selfmadegod Records, https://selfmadegod-store.com/

Trauma, Acrimony (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

XificurK, 1410 (Void Wanderer Productions 2021)

Polish band XificurK return with a blacker-than-black metal EP, 1410.

The band is a duo who think that Black Metal has gone soft and wants to reinforce the underpinnings, labeling their own work Blackest Metal. They certainly are committed to the themes that surrounded the early movement in the genre, I can attest to that. The music carriers the requisite heaviness and also offers a notable variety in instrumentation and tonal execution. The Metal Archives record the band members as being Sitre De Sitirin (drums, bass, and keys) and Temira De Temirin (vocals, guitar, and drums).

You can hear church bells ringing and the steps of someone walking on hard ground as the song opens. Voices from the crowd outside subside when the door is closed and a gentle refrain takes up, followed by a solitary voice singing in devotional tones, Gregorian chants. The metal kicks in at the two minute mark, coarse and ravaging. Just past the midway point, keys take over as the foundational instrument and the feeling goes over to eerie and, even more, somber. The metal returns for a final battle, and we are walked out on gentle notes. That is how the EP begins, “Vilthaaen.”

“Durmak” is next, followed by “Donabad” and then “Tasna.” There is a driving, story-telling element to the way the music progresses in each song that exists outside of the lyrics. The soundscape generated inhabits a three dimensional space, and in any particular direction it is nonlinear but followable. The compositions take unexpected turns while holding the line on the precept thereby generating reliability and ingenuity simultaneously. Listen to it twice (at least) to soak in the nuance and receive the transference. It is heavy, penetrating Black Metal. Recommended.

The digital version of 1410 is available now and a very limited edition cassette will be out from Void Wanderer on March 31st.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://voidwandererproductions.bandcamp.com/album/1410

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Xificurk.Official

Label, https://voidwanderer.com/

XificurK, 1410 (Void Wanderer Productions 2021)

Varmia, bal Lada (M-Theory Audio 2021)

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).

Links.

Bandcamp, https://varmiaband.bandcamp.com/album/bal-lada

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/varmiaband/

Label, https://www.m-theoryaudio.com/

Varmia, bal Lada (M-Theory Audio 2021)

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

This lockdown music from Spaceslug is a dose of acoustic Doom.

From Wrocław, Poland, Spaceslug is a band whose name should live in your brain. Since 2016, they have released three LPs, three EPs, and a split. With that kind of work ethic it is no surprise they were intent on creating new music during the pandemic. The band members are Bartosz Janik (guitars and synths), Jan Rutka (bass and vocals), and Kamil Ziółkowski (drums, guitar, and vocals).

Spaceslug is a Doom band, but the music they create is definitely not what most people would first think of as Doom. I have started to read more frequently the observation that Spaceslug has a Pink Floyd atmosphere in their music, and I am beginning to agree, never more so than with Leftovers. It is largely acoustic music (actual, and acoustic-style, if you know what I mean) that carries a pervasive tone of Doom, composed in complex and thoughtful arrangements.

There are five songs on the new EP, starting with “Wasted Illusion.” It is a trippy and ethereal beginning, with mellow tones and a lot of synth infusion. Next is “Behind The Glass,” which sounds like music for an arid desert if that desert was actually floating in outer space. “The Birds Are Loudest In May” raises melancholy to a mission critical level. “Place To Turn” is positively peppy in the context of the previous songs, but the underlying sense of dread is there, strong enough to make you uneasy. The title track is last, and it is the most ponderous of the set. It is a real whiskey and razor blade situation. If you want a helping of Doom with no fuzz or feedback, this Spaceslug EP is the ticket for you. Recommended.

Leftovers is out now as a download or CD. Go to Bandcamp for the quick pick up. You can also get a t-shirt there, and more of the band’s music.

Band photo grabbed from their Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/spaceslugband/

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

Dira Mortis, Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy (Selfmadegod Records 2020)

Twenty years on, Poland’s Dira Mortis slams a massive slab of fresh metal on the Christmas dinner table.

The band started around the turn of the century and released their first LP, Euphoric Convulsions, in 2012. Psalms Of Morbid Existence appeared in 2015, and the new one now. There have been a few twists and turns in the line-up over the years, naturally. The band for Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy is Leszek Makowiecki (guitar), Mścisław (guitar and bass), Vizun (drums), and Kuba Brewczyński (vocals). The solid tradition of Black and Death Metal that Poland sponsors is not just a rumor. There is a long list of premier bands in this lane (Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated, …), and Dira Mortis could be there, too.

There are five primary tracks on the album plus short intro and outro pieces. These five primaries fit together very much like a suite, changing color, tone, and texture from one movement to the next while holding together on an overarching theme. And the theme is? The title gives us a fairly good idea of where the music is coming from: a hoary tale of hatred toward mankind, resurrected from the swirling darkness.

The separate elements of the songs sometimes seem disconsonant. For example, the opening primary is the epic “Worshipping The Terror Of Madness.” The beginning volley is a steady guitar riff, cymbal percussion, and a straight-forward construction. Then vocals appear like a mad emperor walking in from stage left, sowing chaos. The first lead break would be at home in a Savatage song, and later there is a section that has a very doom orientation before erupting into a precocious slam. And back again. This manner of composition adds complexity and depth to the musical environment, and it is employed throughout the record. The music is challenging but it is also engaging. All it asks of the listener is to come along on the dark journey.

Out today, December 25th, from Selfmadegod Records, there are CD and digital versions of Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy waiting for you at the links below. Recommended.

Band photo by Marcin Studzinski.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diramortis1.bandcamp.com

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/diramortis

Selfmadegod Records, http://www.selfmadegod.com

Dira Mortis, Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy (Selfmadegod Records 2020)

Evangelist, Ad Mortem Festinamus (Nine Records 2020)

Anonymous Epic Doom Metal band from Poland Evangelist returns with a third full-length album, Ad Mortem Festinamus.

The title of the album comes from a well-known fourteenth century song. According to common interpretations of it (translated into English, that is), the song suggests that death is inevitable (we knew that already) and that people should stop sinning. It was a devotional, unsurprisingly. The death part makes good fodder for Doom music – not so much the stop sinning bit.

Evangelist is a band from Kraków, according to the Metal Archives, that keeps its member roster secret. They, whoever they are, have been releasing music since 2011 with the inaugural In Partibus Infidelium. Consistent production followed, with singles, LPs, and now the EP at hand. The new album is a bit of a collection in that it includes three tracks recorded during the Deus Vult sessions couple of years back, a cover song (the closer, “Mystification”), and two new songs.

The musical style is Epic Doom, with means big, rich guitar riffs and theatrical vocals that sound like Ronnie James Dio performing Andrew Lloyd Weber. The first song, “Perceval,” is Grail lore, and it begins with a spoken word narrative. The music is very well produced and sounds excellent. In a way, some of it reminds me of a slowed down take on Iron Maiden. After a stroll through the story of the Grail, next stop is ancient Egypt with “Anubis.” The style of the music shifts appropriately, and you feel that you have moved through time and geography while remaining firmly in the Doom realm. Throughout the six pieces included in this set, the expert musicianship and compositional art of Evangelist are on full display. Fans of the band are going to be more than satisfied and newcomers can get a nice sampling of Evangelist’s musical idiom. Recommended.

Ad Mortem Festinamus is available this Friday, December 18th. The easiest way to get it in the US is through Bandcamp at the links below.

Links.

Evangelist Bandcamp, https://evangelistdoom.bandcamp.com/

Evangelist Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/evangelistmetal/

Nine Records Bandcamp, https://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/

Nine Records Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/NineRecords/

Evangelist, Ad Mortem Festinamus (Nine Records 2020)

Okrütnik, Legion Antychrysta review (Ossuary Records 2020)

The debut album from Okrütnik resonates with equilibrium-tipping surety and sets an incredibly high standard for other bands to match.

Michał Dryjański (vocal), Eryk Kula (guitars), Szymon Garbarczyk (bass), and Grzegorz Drygas (drums) are Okrütnik, a Heavy Metal band making waves since its 2018 inception in Kotlin, Poland. Legion Antychrysta is a statement of their abilities, and it is a loud one.

“Sabat” sounds like it is happening in space with the tortured moaning of a giant creature emanating across the unimaginable distances. And then the music kicks in hard with a raging bass line and a medium tempo rhythm showing razor sharp thrash edges chipping in every few bars. The main lead break has a deep echo and a ripping intensity. The vocals sound very Black Metal to me, and it all pulls together into an integrated being. The title track is next, opening with a traditional heavy metal front and a 1980s homage in the guitar squeal. The vocals go breathless halfway through and by now we notice how unusual this music is, how different. It fosters the elements we seek in heavy music and Black Metal, and it pays tribute to the foundation of the form, but the combinations and permutations have not been heard before.

Every song is a new door and another surprise. The energy is indefatigable, and so is the creativity. The music is sometimes very controlled, as in “Portret Trumienny, a Na Grobach Kwiaty,” and other times it is bewildering – for example, “Noc Galicyjska.” I have laid some labels on the songs, but this band is not confined to a specific subgenre. The creativity of the compositions and the execution of the performances exist at a level not often seen. Recommended.

CDs, cassettes, and downloads can be picked up at the band’s Bandcamp page (link below).

Links.

Bandcamp, https://okrutnik.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/okrutnikofficial

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3cAvYyvadWtsXZsqVuH4iQ

Band website, https://okrutnikkontakt.wixsite.com/okrutnik

Ossuary Records, http://ossuaryrecords.com/en/

Okrütnik, Legion Antychrysta review (Ossuary Records 2020)

Kira, Peccatum et Blasphemia review (Ossuary Records 2020)

Black Metal band Kira release their second album, Peccatum et Blasphemia.

From the Opoczno, Poland, Kira has quickly built a solid reputation in the heavy music world. Their first album, Ancient Lies, was very straight forward hardcore in its approach. Most songs were three minutes or so long (several shorter) so the musical ideas came in fierce bursts. On the new album, the concepts are somewhat larger and more fully developed, with more elements of doom. The songs are generally longer with a couple over the seven and eight minute mark, allowing for more latitude in composition variety and execution.

“The Fearful One” starts the set off with a wall of threat – a massive coordinated push to make way for the distinctive, demonic vocals. “In the Devil’s Embrace” is a grinding wheel that crushes you with its persistence. “Lord of Hallucinations” begins with a shriek and then opens the door to a Doom Metal clarifier. The song resolves in an absolute frenetic explosion. “Lucifer’s Herald” is yet another perspective with its chopping rhythm and tortured guitar lead.

Throughout the album stories are told in a classic Death and Black Metal style augmented by clever appropriations that are far ranging, from theatrical to sweeping orchestral movements to quieter moments. Songs like “One Gram of Your Soul” border on Funeral Doom while “Necroscience” sets a blistering pace. “Temple of Suffering” could have been written by Danny Elfman if he crossed over to the dark side and started composing Black Metal music. The occult and dark fantasy themes are interesting and engaging, complementing the music. This album will be high on my list for 2020 releases. Highly recommended.

Peccatum et Blasphemia is available now. You can get the album at Ossuary Records or Bandcamp (links below).

Links.

Band Bandcamp, https://kira666.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/KIRANAMELESS

Label, http://ossuaryrecords.com/en/

Kira, Peccatum et Blasphemia review (Ossuary Records 2020)