Mord A Stigmata are another of those bands from the seemingly endless Polish factory of black metal. Around since 2004, “Hope” is their fourth full album release.

“Hope” is not an all-out assault. It is steady, creepy even with a progression, which erodes at the senses. The title track, which opens this four track work, is deep, atmospheric and transforming. It’s the transformation from one type of darkness to a hypnotising deep scene. Once sucked in to the persistent beat, the music breaks off like blood clot and the track finishes with up tempo atmospheric melancholy. This is not an album to be taken for granted. Indeed it is creative in its movements. “The Tomb from Fear and Doubt” is like being hung from a chain. Slow and lingering, it nevertheless conveys power and purpose. The progression is mechanical and fearsome. The timing is so good. As good experienced bands do, Mord A Stigmata allow us time to absorb the dirty atmosphere before developing the tension and relentlessly taking us in another hopeless direction. The only solution to this grimy tale is to go and have a good wash, but Mord A Stigmata have dragged us into this war and are not letting us go. So “To Keep the Blood” starts in war-like fashion, with the drum leading the imperious march. The vocalist enters with his ferocious venom, and adds to the creepy tone by expressing every ounce of his maggot-ridden suffering. I am reminded greatly of the excellent German band Dark Fortress. A similar atmosphere of foreboding and tension prevails. “In Less Than No Time” has a post-metal ring to it. Once again the drum leads the steady and remorseless progression. The guitar ring stands above the desolate world which is represented here. There’s time for a further deviation towards an unendingly bleak and melancholic scene, and this depiction of grey scenes fades out.

I am perhaps partial because I like Polish black metal, and see it as a symbol of quality like a kite mark, but I would defend my position by quoting albums like this. “Hope” is inventive and creative without ever losing the inherent nastiness, which is a necessity in black metal. The only mystery is where the “Hope” comes into this, because there doesn’t seem to be much around.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)