Tag Archives: Poland

Underground Sounds: Mord’A’Stigmata – Hope

Label: Pagan Records
Band: Mord’A’Stigmata
Origin: Poland

Mord’A’Stigmata is one of the interesting bands emerging from Poland, with a tendency to explore the boundaries of what black metal is, seeking to expand, grow and energize the genre in their own way. The band has been around for a good 13 years and has now released album number four ‘Hope’.

For a band that deals with the depressive reality of our lives, its a far flung term, but where darkness is hope lives, does it not? That seems to be the theme for this album. The artwork doesn’t spell that much good for the future though. Gnarled branches reaching upwards in the dark and smoke rising from it. Well, time to give this a spin. Out on Pagan Records, this is an album by a band within the Polish tradition, where conviction and a feeling of glow are part of the sound.

The titletrack that kicks of seems to rely on a sort of post-metal trance-state that the listeners get swallowed up in. Repetitive riffing for about 12 minutes is indeed a heavy experience. But thanks to the catchy sound, the emotional clarity and a certain less-is-more approach to the sound, this is something special to experience. The production is well tight on this first song, allowing you to sink into it almost instantly in the first minutes. The vocals slither in, offering words in a similar tone as Nergal/Johan Edlund (Behemoth/Tiamat). It gives more depth to the music, which seems to combine that hypnotic side with a gothic/doom aspect.

The commanding vocals work well with the constant build up an tension in the music. The track ‘The Tomb from Fear and Doubt’, we hear the vocalist Ion deliver with conviction. The lyrics are a bit peculiar though and seem to be more those of a love song. I’m not sure if that is what they are, but this sometimes is really the language barrier. The track maybe dwindles on some aspects too long, but following tune ‘To Keep The Blood’ gets us back to strength. Though you can feel the black metal aspect in all music by Mord’A’Stigmata, this record is much more a rock album. The way the songs balance out the slow, atmospheric guitar and drum passages and clearly articulated words.

Like the final track ‘In Less Than No Time’, this is a song to just sink into.  That I find the biggest strength of hope, the way they put those endless passages in there that completely suck you in. I really enjoy listening to this album. The music is not overly complex, but catchy. The eclectic nature of the band puts them in a much broader stream of music. This I think will be very good for their popularity. The Polish metal scene is definitely developing a more and more distinct sound.

Underground Sounds: Spaceslug – Time Travel Dilemma

Label:
Band: Spaceslug
Origin: Poland

I got to know Spaceslug thanks to their amazing album ‘Lemanis’ (read the review here). The Polish band truly embraces the spaced out stoner sound like not many band have done in recent years. Unlike the Bongzilla’s of this world, Spaceslug really let’s every riff ride out its trajectory, not trying to go for that constant hitting the heavy riffs.

The  group has now dropped the follow up, titled ‘Time Travel Dlilemma’. On the cover we see the Space Slug travelling into the great beyond. The great print really fits the futuristic, dreamy sound of the band. What I love so much is how this all seems to come so natural to the guys, like a walk in the park. I felt that same thing when I published this short interview.

The trio seems to be taking things a bit more serious on this album. The previous record sounded great, but it is clear that more work went into this new effort. The sound is more balanced, more purposeful. Languid, easy going riffs really float by, nowhere does it really touch that solidity that is familiar from most stoner. It’s really meandering and drifting through space on the heavy but somehow mellow riffs on the titletrack ‘Orion’.

The mis seems to be on purpose a bit hazy on tracks like ‘Living the Eternal Now’, to make the interplay between the notes as smooth and dreamy as possible. Spaceslug have found their niche along bands like Mantra MachineSungrazer and maybe even some Colour Haze. On the title track Sander Haagmans from Sungrazer actually sings. There’s no real propulsion, no earthiness to their sound on this record, which distiniguishes them from the feisty, driven stoner bands with sand between their teeth. When Bartosz Janik is singing, he’s never doing that biting, agressive thing, he just sings to the void. The reverberating bass, the soaring riffs…

In space there is no wind, no weight, no direction and that is translated into the music of Spaceslug. This album definitely connects with the genre at large, but melts in shoegaze and postrock to create a new dimension. Spaceslug measures their force and slowly slides onward to stardom.

 

 

Underground Sounds: Wędrujący Wiatr – O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach

Label: Werewolf Promotions
Band: Wędrujący Wiatr
Origin: Poland

With a name that means as much as ‘Wandering wind’, you can have a good idea what direction Wędrujący Wiatr is going to be taking the sound in. The album ‘O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach’. The group hails from Rabka-Zdrój/Olsztyn and has delivered a spectacular album.

Describing themselves as atmospheric black metal, the inspiration for their songs is drawn from Polish folklore, legends and myth. Though that in itself is something that completely fascinates me, I’m not going to be able to figure it all out as easily, so let’s focus on how much the music already tells us.

The intro is a series of ambient sounds, the weary cracking of trees, a dog barking and owls hooting. A gentle folky melody emerges, while the wind gently blows. It helps to know that in the band comes from Warmia, a region in the north-east of Poland, what was former Prussian ground (and I’m not referrin to the Germanic state, but the Baltic-Prussians). When the black metal kicks in, there’s a weary synth line and a short break of melancholic chanting, which I’ve heard from Baltic bands too. It is after all a region that shares history and culture in many ways, but regardless. I’m speculating.

There’s something of the sea and windy forests to the way the sound works for this band. It’s like there’s a continuous windy gale through the music. It almost overtakes the music itself, which is intense, sometimes blistering. The demanding vocals are shouting, roaring even against the sonic storm around it. The band knows exactly when to put a break in, which then ends with a primitve sounding drum. Passages with wavery, static riffing help the listener dream away with the band. The record also has a folky intermission, which again sets a great mood. Musicallly the band is drowning the listener in the emotions and moods it tries to convey. This they do very succesfully on an album that sets them apart from the rest.

This whole record is an eerie, special experience. You listen to something that eases you into a dreamy past of a land that has its very own identity and colour. Wędrujący Wiatr manage to connect synths, atmosphere and an organic brutality to create an intrinsic, mysterious experience. An album to fall in love with.

Underground Sounds: Furia – Guido

Label: Pagan Records
Band: Furia
Origin: Poland

Yes, it’s named after me! No, just kidding. Furia recorded this EP around 320 meters in debt, underground, in its entirety in a mine named ‘Guido’, hence the name of the record. Furia is a mysterious band with little information available, who literelly went underground to make music on this record.

Furia is part of a small Polish collective of artists, named ‘Let The World Burn’. Other bands like Massemord, FDS and Cssabia seem to be attached to it, but it’s never really clear what happens behind closed doors so to say with these collectives. This project is known to be the inventors of ‘nekrofolk’, which is a vague term until you listen to the music they make, It’ll all make sense then.

In a way the record is divided in two parts, one contains the songs ‘1’ and ‘2’, and is called ‘Stara Polska księżycowa’, which I think translates to ‘Old Polish Moon’. Stomping folk music with a cold, morbid sound is indeed a fitting description for the sound of Furia, but the atmosphere and spoken elements betray much more on the second track. Slow but full of purpose the tracks progress with rhythms you wouldn’t expect and sing-a-long elements even. It would almost be jolly.

‘Ubrdy część pierwsza’ is the title of part two, but I haven’t been able to translate it properly. But the strange opening of ‘320 w 2’ is already telling for the atmosphere, because it’s like going down the elevator shaft into the debts. Probably that is actually what we are hearing. It’s a short intermezzo, before ‘Hahary’ takes it’s time to build up, slowly and in a way that makes you wonder where this is all going. A groaning voice murmurs over the minimal music, which is almost a bit jazzy. It then starts building up, with a reverb to create a sonic tunnel effect. I guess you could call it kraut rock almost, there’s little growth, just repetition.

‘Łączka’is even stranger, and reminds me most of Tunng’s folktronica. A lumpy rhythm with those softly spoken words in a deep voice for a good couple of minutes, before the song swells with screaming guitars, but the rhythm never fades. It’s a foreboding trodding track, with little black metal traces remaining. You could indeed call them progressive in their interesting play with the sound. Closing track is ‘Lew Albinos’, which has some ripping guitar tones to take it away. I reminds me a bit of that slow paced Urfaust sound, but without the maddening shrieks. It feels like the slow procession of the miners through the tunnels, grim, bleak and dark with nothing but darkness awaiting.

Furia delivers excellence on this record, which was recorded live. Check it out, you won’t regret it.

Spaceslug: Cosmic slow heaviness (Interview)

Recently you could already read my review of the Spaceslug record ‘Lemanis’ on this page, but now we managed to track down Bartosz from Spaceslug and ask him a few questions.

You can read the review here.  The record stuck with me, because it was indeed spacy but still heavy, resonating in its own realm not sounding like any other band really. So I was keen to learn more about this Polish band.

How did you guys get started with Spaceslug?

B: I talked with drummer – Kamil around may 2015 if he wants to play some music with me. Little project, nothing special, just jammin
some jams with heavy riffs. Then he brought over bass player – Janek, who was also in his other band Palm Desert and we started.

What bands inspire you to make this music?

B: It’s hard to tell really. For me I love bands like Yob, Sleep, Neurosis, Black Sabbath, Subrosa, My Sleeping Karma and other generic heavy stoner/doom/name it stuff.
Guys like more ambitious music. But that’s why it was so well mixed in the process.

I was surprised to see that you guys hail from Wroclaw in Poland. Is there a big stoner scene there?

B: We have a good local scene that is growing. Try 71tonman for example.

Can you tell a bit about the writing and recording of this record?

B: I was bringing the riffs, and the rest of the band formed them and gives taste to it. It was that simple. What was really cool, that it was in fact really hard work. We played every rehearsal with heart, and passion.
Long play was recorded live in two days. Alot of fun, and experimenting with sounds.

Though the album is very heavy, i felt a strong connection to progrock of the 70’s and psych. What do you think about this?

B: Almost from the begining I wanted something heavy and cosmic. I like that kind of way, when something is heavy, but also
majestic. Probably you can tell that there is some vintage 70s vibe in our music, and it is not coincidence 😉

The cover and further artwork of Spaceslug reminds me of this comic book style/ science fiction posters stuff of a few decades ago. What is your inspiration for this part?

B: I love old S/F movie posters and vintage comic book arts in general. I was inspired by couple bands if we talk about style,
and couple old movies posters. Rest was just fantasy about what we are representing with our album. Cosmic slow heaviness.

You’ve just signed with Two Eighty Five Bookings. I for one, can’t wait to hear ‘Lemanis’ live. What can people expect from Spaceslug live? (and when are you touring the Benelux)

B: Hard to tell about specific dates righ now, but for sure if you will come to our show we will take you with us to our
spacecraft and show you couple galactics.

What future plans do you guys have?

B: We are writing material for second release. We also want to tour here and there.

If Spaceslug was a dish, what dish would it be (and why?)?

B: For me – Big, fat, juicy steak, with fries and salad.
Because it’s good and fat!

Underground Sounds: Spaceslug – Lemanis

Label: Independent
Band: Spaceslug
Origin: Poland

I’am still lookin for shrines and altars
Mind’s ignoring, what eyes have shown
– ‘Photon Lander’, Spaceslug

If you like surfing on those astral waves, than you need the right soundtrack for being weightlessly floating and slowly wobbling along. Polish stoner titans… wait, that sounded way to solid… Polish massive space slugs Spaceslug (it’s not perfect, but kinda cool sounding) from Wroclaw have exactly the sountrack for you.

The sound of these gentleman is somewhere in between My Sleeping Karma, Radar Men From The Moon en Earth or Sleep (not sure yet). The group has released with Lemanis their very first album and it’s a homerun. The cover is already epic, depicting a snail or slug facing the enormity of the galaxy, depicted in its full awesomeness.

Opener ‘Proton Lander’ is like one of those hypnotic clouds in space you sometimes see depicted, you get lost in a swirling mass of riffs and repetition that feel so loose and relaxed that you just soar away with them. When the cool guitar lines start to build up the vocals kick in, with a repetitive line being chanted: “I know the space, I know the haze”. It says a bit about the imbibed inspiration I suppose.

It also works to connect the band to the more spaced out stoner scene, though apart from the heavy foundations, there’s something way more spacy in the music of these guys. Meandering guitar tones, wavery bass lines and drums that keep it all together to create slowly cascading tones of the infinite. A track like ‘Hypermountain’ illustrates this well.

The vocals offer the aura of mystery and being in a sort of cultish environment. As if the vocalist has secrets to offer that no one knows of. In the mean time the music just warbles on in a manner that displays little care for things like gravity, which is interesting to listen to.  I absolutely dig this record full of space stoner. “I know the space, I know the haze, alright!”

Sounds of the Underground #26

And we’re up to number 26 of Sounds of the Underground with Regarde Les Hommes TomberDraugurinnMisþyrming  and Gurthang. Check them out!

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – EXILE
Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions

source: bandcamp

You only need to start listening to opener ‘L’Exil’ to get captivated by the soaring tremolo guitars and thundering rhythms, that crash like waves unto your eardrums. The Frenchies are back with a fenomenal record, casting a shadow over their self-titled debut, which I discussed in my very first review block. From the sludge/post-hardcore front the band was residing in before, there’s a definite movement here towards the black metal sound. Well, post-blackmetal is what we need to say I suppose.

The clanging cymbals in dischord with the blastbeat and crackling feedback offers a wealthy wall of sound. Connect that to the imposing vocals and sound and the record becomes an intense and bombastic experience. ‘Embrace the Flames’ is for example a full on black assault, with a harrowing guitar riff spiralling through it. There’s so much power to the music of this Nantes band, it’s a shame everyone keeps talking about the new deafheaven.

Misþyrming – Söngvar elds og óreiðu
Fallen Empire Records & Terratur Possessions

source: bandcamp

Icelandic black metal, that surely has something special about it they must feel at the Roadburn office. So these guys are an integral part of the next edition of the festival. This album came out earlier in 2015 and only now I’ve discovered the intense, excruciating sound of a band whose name means something like maltreatment. Neck breaking ferocious guitar riffs are unrelenting in their sonic assault from the first moments of the album onwards.

It’s a tortured affair of eerie feedback, blustering music and howled vocals. There are no breaks on the wheels of Misþyrming when the y star turning. There’s a certain unique sound to the band that is intriguing. An industrial, desolate atmosphere maybe, but also a Darkthrone like punk vibe that brings a rawness to the band. The sound is explosive, erupting from the deeps and therefor truly overwhelming at times. This is always accompanied by a clear link to the oldschool sound.

Draugurinn – Ísavetur
Nordvis

source; Bandcamp

‘The Ghost’ in Icelandic, this project is the solo effort of Swedish artist Dísa, previously active in black metal bands Murmurs and Korpblod and currently also working on Turdus Merula. This lady has been making some really amazing stuff and Draugurinn takes it a bit more into the mystical region of aetherial ambient with a shamanistic feeling to it. The story is that of a world covered and obscured by volcanic ash and a drumming that melds together with your heartbeat, captivating the listener completely.

There is something intensely pagan and foreign to the music, it draws you into a natural and soothing environment of ritual and dreams. Soundscapes or eerie howls clash with the rhythmic drums that bring a trance with them.  The cover appears like a drawing of Theodor Kittelsen, as popularized by early black metal acts like Burzum, but somehow fits better here. For me, this album awakens a thirst for that spiritual connection to nature, for the harmony I find in the work of Dísa, whose other bands I’ll definitely keep my eye on. PS, for Skyrim fans, now you now where the word Draugr comes from.

Gurthang – I will not serve
Immortal Frost Productions

source: bandcamp

The Polish band has derived their name from Tolkien novels, where the sword Gurthang is wielded by hero Túrin Túrumbar. It’s name means ‘Steel of death’. The band has been around forever and their sound fits in with the Polish style of blackened death you can hear with Behemoth. Cold, stiff tones, majestic sounding and sharp thudding rhythms. The band has been around for a couple of years, but has a prolific catalogue of music already. This may be their best addition as yet.

There’s a cold fury to the sound of Gurthang, a controlled distribution of rage with a sound that in general leans more towards the melodic death metal, but with a much grimmer atmosphere. The Frosty guitar riffs soar over the rumbling drums, which demonstrates how the studio can really affect the sound of an album in this corner of the extreme metal genre. There is a certain lack of dynamics to the record, but it’s in a way like a piece of old fashioned armor: it is sturdy, frightning and cold. Good record, that is exciting enough to give a spin.  

Warsaw #1

I hung around in your soundtrack,
To mirror all that you’ve done,
To find the right side of reason,
To kill the three lies for one,

– ‘Warsaw’, Joy Division

Yes, I’m writing this from Warsaw, capital of the glorious nation of Poland. I’m in a bunk bed in a ,for what I believe is an 8 euro a night hostel just outside of the historical centre. We flew here from Eindhoven with Ryanair. I had a lot of fun in the usual insane queing thing that Ryanair likes to do. I relally like the simplicity and prices of Ryanair, but the amount of unnecessary waiting in line for nothing, it baffles me. What was fun, is the guy that stood in front of me with opium and marihuana incense sticking out of his bag. It just looked silly.

The weird sticks
The weird sticks

The city feels big, it feels old and grand but also new and vibrant. You might think Strijp-S is swarming with hipster crap, and it is I suppose, but Warsaw had plenty of that too.Here they just do things for free, because it is cool.  Warsaw has both the old and embraced the new. It feels a lot like a bigger Vilnius at times. We walked a lot this far, we climbed the old Stalin buildings tower and looked out over the city. It was rather impressive I think, that building with concert halls and theatres attached to it. The beating heart of cultural Warsaw, given to them by the friggin’ antichrist.  I have to say something about the ladies here, because we tend to think of Polish ladies as being tacky. People look classy here and by now we’ve seen other parts of the city too. These are not villagers ofcourse, but the urban population. Maybe that has a lot to do with it.

warsaw1
Warsaw from Stalins tower, 30 floors up

So, from there on it was time to check out the old town, which we finally found. It has a light feeling, not the grim concrete jungle that I used to  feel associated with the name Warsaw. The broad streets are full of artists and entertainers doing their things. Restaurants try to lure you in and vendors try to sell you crap as always. People are out and about, enjoying themselves. Very pretty is the monument for the unknown soldier by the way, on a huge empty square where a fire is kept burning. A silent reminder of the grief that lies in the past.

Warsaw3
Le sausage, remarkably good with a beer.

Time for some food as well ofcourse, so I got myself a black beer and a beer snack. The snack was actually a huge sausage, which I could hardly finish. I was stuffed, yes I yielded to the sausage.

Time to give a shout out to the hostel. We’re staying in a small hostel named ‘Fest Hostel’. It’s basically being run by one dude, and has one 12 bed dorm, one 6 and I think 2 double rooms. Everything is clean and nice and breakfast is included. The owner is the friendliest dude ever, and will help with anything you need. Honestly, are you heading for Warsaw? Go spend your nights here and enjoy amazing company. Link here!

We spend the night in the Irish Pub, where the band Backup played some rock covers. Interesting fact is that this was a Polish-Russian band, making them particularly interesting. Check them out if you like. What was most peculiar is the great amount of cougars on the dance floor. It was a weird night, really very weird. We were a bit hung over this morning, which sucks but its part of that holiday blowout moment. After enjoying the provided breakfast we walked around the city for a long time.

We saw the park with peacocks and squirrels, the Botanical gardens and, ironically, some sort of Chinese exposition in the park. When you see Asian people take pictures of themselves in the fake temple buildings in a park in Warsaw, it completes a circle  of some kind I think.  Then I got to see the stadium of Legia Warsaw, which was pretty impressive. On the other side of the city is the stadium of Polonia Warsaw, who went bankrupt a bunch of times. Still 5000 people turn up for their home games, loyalty that always impresses me.

We took some rest and then ate some pierogi, got coffee and went to the Chopin museum. The city was full of nicely dressed people, its time for weddings on saturday. It gives a special charm to the town. We then relaxed at the hostel and now I’m writing this for those who like to know. Tomorrow more museums, now just some Chopin.