Hate, Rugia (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Blackened death metal band Hate releases their twelfth full-length album, Rugia.

Since the mid-1990s, Polish band Hate has been has been issuing rock solid death metal. Their style has evolved somewhat over the years, moving from a strictly death metal approach toward an amalgam of black and death metal. Their lyrical themes have changed, too, concentrating in more recent years on mysticism and esoteric perambulations. Armed with a new drummer, the latest album is “a refreshing new chapter to our discography, composing nine truly sinister onslaughts of pure rage,” according to the band.

The set opens with the title track, offering an engaging percussion/riff combination before settling in with a thrumming death metal standard. The music is dramatic, even theatrical toward the end, dressing the stage for the deeper shades of dark to come. The question of where to place the title track (when there is one) has always fascinated me. It could be anywhere – the anchor position, sorted in the middle, or right up front. I think starting with “Rugia” is a blatant display of confidence, one that is well deserved.

Most tracks are relatively brief for this type of music, keeping the focus razor-sharp. Watch (listen) for “Exiles of Pantheon” especially, and “Resurgence,” for pummeling rhythm enhanced by unexpected turns in the harmony. “Sun Of Extinction” is a stand-out track for me because of its challenging, almost prog-ish, opening and determined follow-through. And “Awakening The Gods Within” has a cliff dropping shift from the doom laden opening to the savage assault that follows. These are all thrilling for their own reasons.

All the stops are pulled for the final track, “Sacred Dnieper.” It is a consolidated fury that sounds for all the world as if it spewed directly from the blackest void. This album is a roving, unrelenting menace that will dislodge your peace of mind. Recommended.

Rugia is available now through Metal Blade Records. Examine the varieties at the label link below.

Band photo by Daniel Rusilowicz.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hate.bandcamp.com/album/rugia

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/hate/

Hate, Rugia (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Wingless, Nonconform (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

Polish metal trio Wingless let loose with their fourth album, Nonconform.

Nearly a decade ago, Wingless came together as a group of seasoned musicians playing heavy metal from a modern angle. As time passed, the music solidified into a more classic death and doom sound, and that is what we hear on Nonconform. The band is comprised of the newest member, Michał “Xaay” Loranc (vocals), founder Grzegorz Luzar (guitar and bass), and Piotr Wójcik (drums), who has been with the group since 2018.

The nine-track album starts with “Imperceptible,” which opens like waking up with the house on fire – heavy and loud from the first note. After the first movement, there is a slowed-down spoken word segment then a return to the bestial pummeling. The pace shifts are a regular feature of the landscape on Nonconform.

The songs are often a negotiated truce between Death Metal elements and Doom Metal presence. And frequently a mixture of the two, like in “Separated From All Life” where we have doom guitars and vocals with a more peppery percussion. Some of the tracks do start out with a slower pace at the gate – “Sadness Filled With Silence” and “Nyctophilia,” for example – and maintain it throughout. Shifting tempo is more common, however.

Standout tracks for me are “Constellations” and the sinister title track, both of which, in their own ways, highlight the strengths of the band. The final track is “When You Are Short Of Tears,” a solemn song with a powerful arc that resolves in quietude. The classic influences from two metal lineages coalesce in a fulfilling heavy music experience. This is the best album I have heard from Wingless. Recommended.

Digital and CD formats are available from Selfmadegod Records on the first Friday in October, the 1st.

Links.

Wingless Bandcamp, https://wingless.bandcamp.com/

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

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

Wingless, Nonconform (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

71TonMan, War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

If you like your Doom slow, massive, and pulverizing, 71TonMan is the band for you.

71TonMan has been shaking the earth for ten years. Their first album, 71TonMan, came out in 2013 and Earthwreck followed four years later. The new one is a three-track EP, and each song is very different.

“War Is Peace” is that slow, massive, and pulverizing music I was talking about. The riffs are so heavy your headphones will threaten to collapse under the pressure. It is hammering Doom Metal. “Peace Is Slavery” is more actively aggressive, more like Death Metal – faster, with more vocals and ravaging percussion – in the first half of the song. In the second half, the weight of the world pushes down hard.

“Ignorance Is Strength” finds an ethereal plane to enter on. It is spacey, with a creepy intermittent voiceover. A little over halfway through a beeping beacon disturbs the journey, and the voice is back, even creepier. This continues to the end and the voice becomes more compelling, convincing, hypnotizing. By the time you realize you are being talked into something it is too late.

I recommend this EP particularly for the first two killer tracks. The third is best absorbed as part of a meditation in an altered state. How you get to that altered state is up to you, but once you are there “Ignorance Is Strength” will start to speak to you on a whole different level.

War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery is out now from Transcending Obscurity. You can order through Bandcamp or at the label’s US store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://71tonmanband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/71TonMan

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

71TonMan, War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Intricate Funeral Doom laced with Death Metal is what you can expect from the new Suffer Yourself album, Rip Tide.

Suffer Yourself began in Poland as a one-man operation by Stanislav Govorukha (guitars and vocals). Over the years the roster has expanded and the new album includes contributions by Lars Abrahamsson (guitars), Kateryna Osmuk (drums), and Johan Selleskog (bass). Rip Tide is the third set from the band, following Ectoplasm (2016) and Inner Sanctum (2014).

The music is Funeral Doom, a category most glum. Suffer Yourself takes an expansive perspective on the genre and is not satisfied with ambient morosity. Instead, each song either has many movements that create a variegated aural landscape or has a second (and third) persistent intricacy that elevates the composition.

There are three tracks on Ripe Tide, starting with “Spit In The Chasm,” a twenty minute suite. It is here you find the full spectrum of the band on display, including soaking Funeral Doom, eerily floating vocals and calls, sudden burst of speed and diversions into torrid Death and Black Metal territory. It is a complex affair that unfolds like a darkly absorbing drama laid bare before you.

Next is “Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)” which is quiet and somber  and features a beautiful, mournful cello in its first movement. Before the three minute mark, the music changes from sad to threatening with guitars issuing an obvious warning. In the final third of the song, there has an oddly upsetting spoken word passage joined by the cello and other discordant instruments and effects.

The closer is a short ambient drone piece, “Submerging,” which is more of an exhortation regarding things to come than it is a wind-down. Taken together these three pieces coalesce into an unforgettable cortège moving toward oblivion. Recommended.

Rip Tide will be released on Friday, June 25th by Aesthetic Death on CD, vinyl, and digital. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Aesthetic Death Bandcamp, https://aestheticdeath.bandcamp.com/

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

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)