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As dark as it gets - 70%

GobMeansFrog, September 8th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1990, CD, Metal Master Records

For many bands a live album tends to mark an end of a musical period, and this holds even more true for Italian black/speed/thrashers Bulldozer. Poland wraps up their career throughout the eighties, before the band disbanded, and two of its members took a headlong dive into the obscure waters of techno and Euro pop. It is a shame that this band was doomed to go unnoticed by most metal fans, for musically they have found their own musical niche playing a bizarre, dirty mixture of thrash and early black metal, with hilarious, often blatantly sexist lyrics where they easily achieved to out-Venom Venom.

Unfortunately, Poland fails both in doing justice to Bulldozer's former output as well as in serving as some kind of “best of” album. Even though the recording quality of the show is not too shabby, the mixing is highly inconsistent. While the bass guitar and drums are loud and prominent, the vocals and lead guitar are muted in contrast, leading to an unpleasant, messy sound which makes it even harder to discern the respective songs. During The Derby, for instance, the overall volume goes all over the place, and it is only during the second half of the album that the sound starts getting better.

This, however, is but a minor complaint compared to the song selection on this album, and the way some of the songs are performed by the band. At the time of recording this album, the band must have been suffering from severe Reign in Blood syndrome, playing mostly fast, short, and sometimes even unhinged songs. The overall majority of them are clocking in at under three minutes (in fact, the information on the CD cover are misleading here), with some of the longer songs being shortened. For example, the two opening songs, IX and Desert!, are merged to form some kind of medley; later into the show, only the first halves of Don't Trust the “Saint” and The Cave are effectively played. Thankfully, Final Separation with its slower sections is delivered in its entirety, which is a welcome contrast to the other, mostly fast-forward stuff.

It also boggles the mind why the band chose to play a cover song of Overkill, while completely neglecting their first album The Day of Wrath. Of course, Motörhead have been a great influence for Bulldozer, but playing that song note by note without any variation or stylistic adaption to their own sound is quite pointless. Instead, they might have played Whisky Time if they wanted to opt for a catchy or accessible tune.

Overall, this is not a bad live album, even though falling short of its likes such as those released by Sodom or Destruction. It is also hard to imagine that someone listening to this record without previously knowing Bulldozer might be tempted to give their other records a listen. Poland will appeal to Bulldozer fans and completists only, without being the bands “swan song” in its truest sense.