Whilst Poland may be more famous for its brutal death metal scene, its black metal scene is often overlooked. Bands like Mgla, early Graveland, and of course Behemoth hold their head high against their Nordic contemporaries. As with their death metal scene, the Polish black metallers are no strangers to experimentation, and Túrin Turambar, (or simply TT) are one such band that does not worry about adhering to certain generic conventions. They do black metal their own way and whilst it is certainly heavy going in every sense, you can’t fault them for a lack of originality.
One black metal convention that they do stick with is the production, which for lack of a better word, stinks. That being said, it’s actually worse than your usual black metal lo-fi sound, as here it sounds more as if it was simply badly recorded, mixed and mastered. Add to that their predilection for using discordant tremolo riffing and the end result can make your toes curl. The bass guitar has more of an early Celtic Frost feel about it, with its slightly atonal nature and crushing weight. The mixture of the two guitar styles takes a little bit of getting used to and manages to be interesting rather than engaging, giving the listener an uncomfortable musical experience, which I’m sure was the intention. The vocals of Ataman Tolovy is probably the strongest element of the band, with a strong evil rasping vocal which yet manages to be reasonably clear. Where black metal vocals are often buried in the mix for suitable effect, it is not the case here and rightly so given the musical style.
TT are certainly not afraid to mix things up and along with the black metal stylings, there are elements of sludge, doom, and even 80’s thrash! The opening to ‘Kobieta z Zamkniętymi Oczami’ sounds fresh from Reign in Blood era Slayer before it veers towards Morbid Tales era Celtic Frost, and back again. ‘Jazda’ adds an experimental jazz sound to their repertoire (which makes for 4 minutes of very difficult listening); whist ‘Więzienie z Kości’ has an extremely potent doom riff that makes me wonder if their talents could be best employed in that direction.
The main problem with bands that class themselves in the ‘experimental’ bracket is to work out where the experiment ends and where ‘dicking about’ begins, and it’s clear to me that whilst TT are happy to draw on many influences for their music, the extent of their experimentation leaves this as a bit of a jumbled incoherent mess. There are some great ideas on ‘Rzeczpospolita Czartowska’, but therein lies the problem. They remain undeveloped ideas; so much so listening to this album is like listening to musicians with Attention Deficit Disorder. Just as they are starting to make a style and sound work they switch to something else. Add to this the fact that each song sounds like it was recorded in one take, the terrible production, and less than perfect musicianship at times, and what you have is an album that sounds like a rehearsal tape. It’s a shame because there are some really great ideas on this album, but perhaps there are too many to make it work effectively. With a little more focus and more time and attention on how the finished product sounds, this could and should have been a really interesting album. As it stands, it’s just a sloppy mix of half-finished doodles.
(5/10 Lee Kimber)