LillaLilla Weneda is the name of a 19th century tragic drama about the invasion by the Lechians of the Wened tribe and is very significant in Polish history. The band Lilla Veneda from Wroclaw have taken on the spirit of this turbulent time with their debut full release “Diagonals”. In doing so, they place themselves in the fine tradition of Polish blackened death metal bands, joining the likes of Vesania, Devilish Impressions, Hate and Trauma.

This album is homage to war. There is melody in a Polish sense, but with the exception of “Parasite Lost (Weltschmerz)”, we are on the march. It’s grim and clinical fare but spiced up by the throaty growls, an incessant rhythm and twirling drums. There is a whistling in the air to make it more sinister. It’s as compelling as much it is harsh and punishing. Such is the march that my foot was going through the floor as I listened. Grimly enunciated words at the end of “The Black Faced Titan” add a scary element. Total warfare returns. It seemed incongruous that I was humming along to “The Perfect Serenity”. Contrary to its title, it is dirty, militaristic, mechanical, technical and utterly nasty. The imagery is vivid. It’s like bowling through the corridors of discipline, punishment and pain. No-one is going to stand in our way. This stuff will cut through metal as well as hammering you into the ground. It’s impossible not to get into this and headbang. Melodic bile is spewed out on “Prophecy of the Rat King”. Exquisite drumming, razor sharp guitars and high pitched instrumental cries embed themselves smoothly. The silkiness reinforces this metal invasion of the mind. It’s strangely bouncy in spite of all that nastiness. The riff is unrelenting and reality is harsh.

“Parasite Lost (Weltschmerz)” deviates from the now established norm and takes on an evocatively electronic angle. The distorted sounds and strangulated vocals are indicative of drowning, but at the same time the image is conveyed of sparkling stars being let loose into the atmosphere. It’s like a darkly cosmic version of Kraftwerk meets Front Line Assembly in a death metal framework. Somehow the vocalist gets through it, but the end suggests hopelessness and death. This avant-garde track was written by Asgaard’s keyboard player Flumen, who also composed the short but dramatic “Melancholy of the Echo” which opens the album. “Parasite Lost (Weltschmerz)” is such a creative piece that it is going to be one of my favourite tracks of the year. The problem this had for me in the context of this work is that it is musically so different from what has gone before that it is like listening to two separate albums. A third phase then follows with the final two tracks, which have an edgy and ballsy black metal feel about them. In fact the beginning of “Voice of the Unborn” reminded me of the track “Just Hate” by the old Swiss band Alastis. There are moments akin to the Devilish Impressions in which the track seems to be coming from the depths of a swampy hell, but the black metal is now rampant and upbeat. I could identify similarities between “Alienation” and the earlier “The Black Faced Titan” but the atmosphere is now more lively and less belligerent than before. There isn’t a bad track on this 30 minute work but whilst it would be over simplistic to say that it divides itself into militaristic death, avant-garde electronic and melodic black-death sections, I did feel a slight loss of impact and continuity coming from these distinct and imposing styles of playing on one album. The quality is there but almost paradoxically the band could do more to exploit it. Such criticism is minor, however, as Lilla Veneda clearly have impressive weaponry with which to batter us.

Credit is given in the sleeve notes to Asgaard, Devilish Impressions and Vesania. The influences of these bands can be felt across this album. If “Diagnosis” isn’t advocating rebellion and chaos, I don’t know what is. This is all that is best about Polish metal. Lilla Veneda can come and defile these shores any time they like.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)