Here we have two bands both sharing one member and both containing Poles displaced and living in London. In the case of Raus this is their first recorded work whereas Perunwit are described as “legendary and the oldest Pagan band from Poland” and have a slew of releases stretching back to 1994. Both projects have similar stances and are united under the black sun with somewhat contentious imagery and musically share common but clearly divisible lines.
Naturally both imagery and in the case of Raus the song titles and music which is black, martial industrial may not be completely comfortable listening for all. It’s a dictatorial spirited and warlike rallying call but one without any overt fascistic statements or anything other than musical ideology preventing it from inclusion here. The imagery and everything that goes with it cannot be stigmatised any more than if it were a band such as Laibach, Der Blutharsch, Von Thronstahl or a myriad of other artists and is par for the course but like I said it is certainly edgy and confrontational as ‘The Spirit Ov Victory’ prepares to march on in. There is an air of haunted spectres hanging over the opening as much as anything triumphant, the sounds of brass and woodwind are stirring and evocative but here be ghosts! ‘Raus’ itself sees main composer Aro joined by Shadow as his guitar work and vocals are thrust into things with the now thundering drum and jackbooted stomp sounding like a legion marching on to war. Vocals are course and guttural and naturally with the song title in mind everything is urgent and the blackened metallic elements are pushed to the fore. It’s described as “sonic terror” and that is a perfect summary as a loudhailer has vocals distorted in the background and the troops of doom march into the horrors that await. ‘Ich Bin Got’ samples German speech, guns rattle and it feels like we are now on the battlefield. A martial drumbeat calls out, vocals are ghostly whispers and everything about this is highly atmospheric and sinister. Pace picks up and guitar riffs are thick in the mix as ‘Genocidum Atox’ expands. There is a hideous roar, I suspect provided by Shocker from Iperyt who puts in a guest appearance somewhere and this thuds away with some grating guitar work and growling vocal parts as well as a groove laden melody and even some eerie underlying synthesizer. Final assault is the call of ‘Go And Die With Honour’ an industrial soundscape enforced by the clang of metal on metal and owing to the likes of SPK and Einstürzende Neubauten. A cold Teutonic sampled voice repeating the title track in a brainwashing way is the icing on the particularly harshly atmospheric work. This really sent chills down me the first time I heard it and continues to do so and whatever you think of the subject matter it is certainly dealt with in a compelling fashion.
Perunwit appears to now just be the work of Aro who is handling everything and this is more of an exercise in dark ambient music that what we have heard before. Birds call in a chilling (again this is full of cold and darkness) fashion over the Intro ‘Within The Chant Of Raven Choirs’ and hang over the lone horn call and simple slow drum tap like they are watching over the dead. The unmistakable sound of the hammered dulcimer weaves in and Berserkir picks up the pace which trots along with kettledrum, pipes and chimes picking it up into a flurry of activity. It’s heady and ritualistic and brings the essence of the pagan past and the dawn of time to mind as the sound of a sword being unsheathed reverberates and the horn call becomes more urgent. ‘Blood Honour And Sword Live?’ has that question mark purposely placed and has you wondering if it was laid out in some ancient forest around a campfire. There’s faint choral work and a fantastic labyrinthine sound behind this as the traditional instruments ritualistically combine. I am reminded a lot of the excellent Hexentanz here as well as the more well-known likes of Dead Can Dance. Moving with no real urgency through Retra and Sunwheel this was a pagan call that I really didn’t want to end as again it is highly evocative and atmospheric and thankfully not as shocking but much more soothing than Raus.
The two bands although sounding quite different work very well together as far as this split album goes and they both left me with the desire to hear more so hopefully as far as Raus are concerned they will in future stretch to a full length and with Perunwit, well I shall be going in search of their past works.
(8/10 Pete Woods)