Frenzied violence greets us. But this is the deathly black world of Poland’s Stillborn, whose fifth album this is. Space is not allowed for compromise or mercy in the Polish metal scene, and it’s not here. All that is allowed is fury, fire and brimstone.
I could picture grey, crumbling buildings as Stillborn set about the first piece of warfare “Martwo urodzony – rozdział trzeci” (Stillborn – Chapter three). But this isn’t aimless violence as the crashing drums and razor-sharp guitars might suggest. It’s exciting, fluent and alive – apocalyptic hymns to satanic warriors, to borrow the title of the last track. There’s majesty to match the thunder. After another shredding track “Ancykryst”, the thunder rumbles to the tempo-changing “Upiór” (Ghost). We’re part of the most violent of violent battles, where raucous noise reigns supreme. There’s a rawness about all of it, as if these musicians are venting their anger on us. Inevitable comparison may be made with Behemoth but there are so many uncompromising and talented bands from Poland out there. Here’s another one. “Człowiekowstręt” (Human Repulsion) is just deep and thundery black metal nastiness, born before a time when anyone was able to produce anything. It creeps and wriggles its evil way through a minefield of sheer venom. But this could be said about the whole of this album. “Odezwa” (Appeal) is almost a gesture, symbolic of the fury but not adding much in its two minutes or so of malevolence. There’s only 33 minutes anyway so it’s a shame to waste the momentum, which up to now Stillborn hasn’t done. The situation is redressed with the heavy death metal ode “Obłęd” (Madness). This is not for the weak. It leads nicely into the swirling, twirling and anarchic “Modlitwa poganina”. It’s raucous, harsh, heavy and with the drums signaling the assault of war. A cover of the Sodom track “Burst Command til War” follows. It’s perfect for this dirty grey representation of war. A five minute instrumental finishes off the album. The appropriately titled “Apocalyptic Hymn of Satanic Warriors” is breathtaking, building up its crushing firepower hypnotically and impressively.
Listening to this is like having your head ripped off. The war is on. Keep your heads down.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)