Damn, it’s bad enough going through your mortal days with a boat-race like Joseph Merrick’s but you have to take it with you into the afterlife? Seriously though, if you took a look at this band’s name and thought as I did that this was going to musically be an example of the most brootalz of death metal you would be wrong too as these strange Poles are a million miles removed from such things. This is actually the group’s 6th album and my first introduction to them and it’s certainly been an interesting one. It’s noted that others have described them as “art death” or “prog gothic metal” and both are pretty apt descriptions so let’s buckle up for the ride and press play as once you have, there is indeed “no way out.”
Instrumental opener ‘I’ pulses in and gives little away apart from setting up a gloomy guitar mood that wouldn’t be out of place on Pornography era The Cure and sets things up with some gothic textures. The band’s ‘Esoteric Manifesto’ is explored in more detail as the full weight breezes in with some momentous slow drumming and clean but roaring vocals. Building slowly it finally flurries away with a carnivalesque cavalcade that would not be out of place on an early Arcturus album along with some much more guttural snarls from vocalist Przemysław Kajnat also of the equally intriguing Praesepe. Swapping into clean harmonic croons that are somewhat reminiscent of the likes of Solefald it’s obvious that this is going to be one of those albums with no shortage of ideas. Progressive guitars weep away and the melody is thick as a flamboyant solo is dexterously peeled out. The clamour is even a bit like an epic Devin Townsend track and everything is expertly played and although ticking familiar boxes it’s all quite unique and richly constructed. ‘Sweet Isolation’ both musically and with the hellish, gravid vocal rasps has a fair bit of Ihsahn about it at first (much more so than Emperor) and is every bit as complex as his solo work. The clean vocal harmonies work really well giving it a duality as the two styles joust with each other and the drums and bass work give this plenty of bottom end driving the pace well with underlying keyboards giving it all a symphonic edge.
This album has taken a lot of plays and I am not sure if that is due to the complex nature of it or the sheer enjoyment that I have found giving it plenty of spins before committing internet pen to paper. On reflection now it seems like I have really gotten beneath its skin but it is still giving up plenty of surprises as time goes by. I’d be interested to hear just how the band have evolved since debut album ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ back in 97 but with epic numbers like the ten minute ‘Reinvented’ perhaps there is a clue that they started out a bit differently where we are at today. The forceful melody on this one certainly gets in your head and there’s a real urgent flair about it as the musicians frantically and precisely clamour away. A sudden classical piano forte pompously proves the fact that they are continuously striving to keep things inventive and are doing so to great effect. ‘Mothman’ is chance to chill serving as a more acoustic number with a recent Anathema vibe about it before we go back on the path to adventure with ‘Mines, Ghouls and Kings’ a track title straight out of a Steve Jackson game book. There’s lots of mystery here from the glimmering riffs and spoken word vocals, indignant roars are strong and the melody is served with unforgettable panache. With another massive track ‘Glacier’ serving as finale, the album goes out in style having both frozen to the very core and proved a particularly illuminating discovery.
It’s only as I write this that I discover ‘No Way Out’ was originally released independently in October 2015 before very wisely being snapped up and re-packaged by ToT. Hopefully that may well mean that new material is not too far away as I will certainly be keeping an ear out for it.
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)