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'IX Equilibrium' in the Polish way - 90%

Dead_Shall_Rise, November 3rd, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Wolfspell Records (Slipcase)

I felt partly obliged to write this review after seeing some disagreeable reviews and comments about this album.

The first thing I have to ask: are people rating metal albums mainly on their musical content or mainly on their production? Sometimes I feel like people are obsessed with the production so much that they're not even listening to the riffs properly. So to be clear, this is how I would rate an album in order of importance: 1. Musical content (song-writing (structure, melodies, harmony etc.)); 2. Originality; 3. Vibe / feeling; 4. Musicianship; 5. Production, and so on.

Secondly, I see that people are still banging on about how Gontnya Kry does not sound like 'Welowie' - a demo that was written in 1997!! Who can possibly expect Gontnya Kry to carry on writing something in a similar style after so much time? I would not even say it's fair to expect a bridging release. Even if there was, you could look at the releases in-between this one and 'Welowie'.

Thirdly, I need to bring up the idea of technicality. I see this seems to be a common point for critique by conservative people in the black metal scene. Again, how "technical" the playing is on a release is irrelevant. The only relevant question is: is it good music? Whether the same notes are played at 100 BPM or 250 BPM is not the question – instead it is what the notes are and more importantly, what the songs are overall. Getting all upset because an atmospheric-style black metal band starts using more notes in an apparently more technical way, suggests you're not listening to it properly. That doesn't mean atmosphere is not important - it simply means the music is different in this case.

With that out of the way, here's what I think about it: 'Ignipoten' is an album that follows on logically from the two albums released in 2008. It is essentially in the same style. The difference here is that it features a real drummer, rather than the programmed drums of the previous two releases, and it features Piąty from Kataxu. Both are welcome additions - especially Piąty, who we can remember for giving an excellent vocal performance on 'Hunger of Elements'. Apparently this album was written much closer to the 2008-11 time period, but was recorded much later due to various (unknown) reasons.

Stylistically it is similar to Emperor's 'IX Equilibrium', but somehow it also has the characteristic that many modern Polish metal bands have, which is a tight performance and clean production. For this reason it does not sound like a typical underground black metal release, and one could almost imagine it being performed on the big stage.

Despite the Emperor similarities, I would argue Gontyna Kry have their own sound, and musically 'Ignipoten' is full of very inspired parts. When you analyse it, it has plenty of flawless, intelligent riffs, which are far from dull, use interesting harmony and together flow well. This suggests it is likely that Warterz Neur has taken the time to improve himself as a musician over the years and has presumably also taken plenty of inspiration from late-Romantic classical music.

My only criticism is that it would have been nice to have a bit more in the way of dynamics, because I find the production quite tiring when I listen to the album all the way through. I also think the mix could have allowed the guitars a little bit more prominence. And for this reason it could be argued the production does not do the songs complete justice. I do not contradict my previous statement by saying this because it was a generalisation, and of course we know that clean production does not necessarily always mean something bad - it just depends.

To conclude, it is a pity nowadays that to be a popular band in black metal you have to go back to basics, use typical occult imagery (we've all seen it thousands of times before) or play something dissonant, chaotic, or even simplistic. (Or a nauseating post-black metal band with no darkness or interesting characteristics). It used to be the case that every black metal did their own thing and didn't follow trends. Since the nowadays black metal scene is a series of "copy and paste" pointless projects, Gontyna Kry are a refreshing band that is still playing in the classic way, with their own personality, whether popular or not. This is the sound of late 90s black metal dragged reluctantly into the year 2018.

No, please, No - 15%

Spatupon, September 11th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Wolfspell Records (Slipcase)

I've only just recently found out that Gontyna Kry finally released an album. After ten years of relative silence, they took the black metal scene by storm and decided to release this full-length earlier this year. After realizing that I was a few months late to the game, I felt quite ashamed of myself. I consider Gontyna Kry to be one of the pioneers of Polish black metal, alongside other classic acts such as Graveland, Fullmoon, Kataxu and yeah, you guessed it, Behemoth. You might think that I'm being bombastic by comparing Gontyna Kry to Behemoth. The first band remains a very underground act, signed to independent record labels, while Behemoth has become a large cash-cow, taking every opportunity to make cash in a heartbeat. However, with this release, I sense that Gontyna Kry, ten long years after its latest offering, has started its volte-face into what Behemoth has become. Sure, they might need to become a tad more famous and be signed to a major record label in order to get the attention that bands like Behemoth get, but this album shows that the ultimate aim of Gontyna Kry is just that.

Enough with the pointless blabbering and let's get on to the actual music. This full-length entitled "Ignipoten" contains twelve songs, spans around almost an hour, with every song averaging at five minutes in length. As soon as the first song comes on, "Ignipoten I" I instantly get a wretched feeling inside my gut. The orchestrations which introduce the listener to this full-length sound so damn polished, I could have easily mistaken it for a mid-era Dimmu Borgir track. The first song carries on like that, simple orchestrations and loud chants and shrieks which are supposed to be the harbingers of things to come. Oh, how wrong I was in this assumption. Actually, let me paraphrase myself, this first song serves actually as a harbinger of things to come because there are two other pointless tracks just like it which serve as filler material. Following this extremely pointless introduction, the second song kicks in, which is by far my favorite on this album. It contains some cool acoustic passages so common in previous Gontyna Kry releases and the song does have a very ominous atmosphere.

However, I have to go back to my original comparison. By releasing this album Gontyna Kry have almost completely forsaken their original sound. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like change, it's just that change has to be sincere, and unfortunately, it doesn't sound that way in this album. The band seems to be in a crossroads, unsure of whether to proceed forth in this new-wave of technically proficient black/death being spearheaded by Behemoth or whether they should stay true to their roots. It seems like this album is a manifest of Gontyna Kry's existential crisis. Being absent from the scene for ten long years will surely change your outlook, your motivations, and your aspirations, but it seems that Gontyna Kry is stuck in a bind. Each song on the album gives a lot of hints of the old Gontyna Kry sound, with nice atmospheric ambiances and other trademarks Gontyna Kry sounds.

Unfortunately, though, the recipe on this album seems to be all-encompassing in its nature, containing very fast blast-beats and unholy guitar wankery which outbalance every other positive factor on this album. The worst example of complete retardedness on this album is "Etos Zdobywców" which seems to be all over the place and has literally no meaning at all except to show the technical proficiency of the guitarist. The vocals on this album are perfect. I simply adore Piąty's unholy voice which seems to be possessed by every demon that has ever walked the earth. But once again, everything is ruined by the flat sounding drums which are extremely repetitive and droning in nature, and the lack of seriously memorable riffs. If I didn't have the track-list in front of me to tell each song apart, I could have literally almost considered this whole album as one single terribly crafted song. Sometimes, Neur's clean vocals come in to balance out the other singers' demonic screams and shrieks, however, these moments are ephemeral and few and far in between. The bass is almost completely non-existent. It's either that there's no bass, or it was terribly mixed.

The artwork on this album is also another sign of a change in direction which the band seems to be heading towards, either willingly or not. It has a definite "modern-metal" vibe with abstract symbolism which is supposed to encapsulate the spirit of the entire album. It pains me to say that after ten years of not hearing new Gontyna Kry music, I find this album out, and end up being extremely disappointed. To try to bring this review to a conclusion, I have to say that this is a new Gontyna Kry which sounds like a mash-upo between Necrophagist, Behemoth and old Gontyna Kry. If anyone is heading into the album expecting cold, raw, devilish black metal, he or she is going to remain extremely disappointed, just like I was.