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Near-perfect modern black metal - 90%

Ciggurat, August 1st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Independent

Polish black metal has become a powerful force in recent years, with bands like Mgła, Kriegsmaschine, and Batushka (as well as Bartushka) making waves across the scene and bursting through the underground. Bucking the Satanic trend of Polish pioneers Behemoth as well as the second-wave Norwegian bands of the 90s, modern Polish BM brings human themes into its sound. Misanthropic and nihilistic lyrics replace Devil-worship, and the tropes found so much in older black metal (blast beats, dissonant and chromatic tremolo riffs, shrieked vocals) are mixed with jazzy drum fills, the occasional melodic vocals, and chord strumming straight out of 50s blues rock.

The result is something quite incredible. "Rzeczom" is full of musicality yet maintains the evilness you'd expect in a black metal record. It doesn't have the thin production that wears the listener's ear out and is used to hide the apparent lack of quality in some black metal albums. This makes "Rzeczom" sound even heavier than most black metal, with chugging low-tuned guitars in between tremolo riffing. And this thing is full of riffs (some of the best include the "Schadenfreude" midsection and pretty much the whole of "Świt opowiadaczy" and "Bempo"). The guitars and vocals lie on top above a strong drumming performance from Priest, who floats between double bass grooves, blast beats, and breakdowns seamlessly. This is a real strong point of the album and of Odraza as a band - the ability to combine so many themes and influences into a single album and in some cases a single track (see the folk-esque "...twoją rzecz też"). It keeps the listener guessing but never strays too far from the black metal foundation that it executes so well.

Other highlights from the album include the numerous headbang-worthy blast beat breaks which usually follow a tasteful moment of silence (of which the outro of "Bempo" takes the cake), and the moments of downtempo calm amongst the chaos, where clean guitars are used to fantastic effect.

I really can't praise this album enough. If you are at all familiar with modern black metal, especially with other Polish bands like Furia and Gruzja, you will thoroughly enjoy "Rzeczom". It's a contender for AOTY 2020 for sure, not just within black metal but the extreme genre as a whole.