It’s not every day I get physical CDs in the mail. All I do is rip them (at high bitrates) to my computer anyway, and perhaps they’ll land in the minivan for the rare occasions I’m driving it without my wife present. But a physical CD does grab my attention, and that’s why these releases caught my attention.
Both of them are 2012 Polish black metal albums. As a rule, Polish black metal doesn’t make it all the way to my ears, because I already have a pretty good idea what it’s going to sound like, and I’ve heard it before. I don’t know whether this is endemic to all Polish culture, but their metal scene, at least, lacks in subtlety. Just off the top of my head, I can think of 10 things that are about as subtle as Polish metal (I’ll put the list at the end of the review).
This is my not so subtle way of setting up the unexpected twist to the story.
Straight-forward is not always a bad thing. Metal which attempts and fails at nuance is worse in every way than the pure, reliable bludgeoning of Polish metal. They know what the fuck they like and they know how the fuck to do it. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad Polish metal album. If such a thing exists, you’d have to look hard for it.
After that extended introduction, Iugulatus bring no surprises. Their Satanic Pride is about as subtle as my dumb jokes below, about as subtle as its title suggests. The production puts the take-no-prisoners black metal front and center. In true Polish fashion, it’s heavy, and the vocals are extra growly. They wouldn’t be out of place sharing a stage with any of their country’s fine death metal bands.
Primal, on the other hand, are different! Obłęd shares a heaviness with its Polish cousins that the Norse typically lack, but the way they use the ebb and flow of tremolo riffing to create almost symphonic melodies would be more usual in the frozen North. It’s a juxtaposition not often heard, even in these days of black metal saturation. But that’s not even the surprising part. This record has honest-to-God(-or-whatever) melody. The catchy, mid-paced riff near the end of “...i śmierci już nie będzie” or pretty much any part of the fantastic “Jak groby otwarte” are evidence that there could be something more to the Polish scene.
Satanic Pride: 3 out of 5 stars
Obłęd: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It should go without saying that I find in favor of Primal. They bring something more to the table than pure riffage, and when you’re not a giant like Behemoth or Vader, you almost have to do that to get noticed. There’s nothing wrong with Iugulatus, though.
Top 10 Things About as Subtle as Polish Metal1. Polish metal is about as subtle as answering the front door in nothing but fishnet stockings.
2. Polish metal is about as subtle as Ghost's branded merch.
3. Polish metal is about as subtle as a prostate exam from the Incredible Hulk.
4. Polish metal is about as subtle as beating a skull in with a baseball bat.
5. Polish metal is about as subtle as Donald Trump’s hairpiece.
6. Polish metal is about as subtle as beating a skull in with a brick.
7. Polish metal is about as subtle as beating a skull in with a rock.
8. Polish metal is about as subtle as a performance by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
9. Polish metal is about as subtle as tearing up a Bible on stage.
10. Polish metal is about as subtle as this list.