It is promised that we will be dragged through the streets of Warsaw, across the fields of Treblinka, into the marshes of Belarus, or into the death pits of Babi Yar. Our guides are Italian band Totalitarian. This EP is the follow u to their 2017 album De Arte Tragoediae Divinae.
So we start in 1933 on a war footing with the sound of a choir, but not for long. Violence erupts and we’re being ripped to shreds. Here are the sounds of Marduk, Impaled Nazarene, Zyklon B. You will gather that this is a world of extreme black metal aggression. It is cold and merciless. The shredding guitar has authority. The echoing vocals sweep through this war-torn wastelands. “On the Wings of the Great Terror” follows “1933” and unsurprisingly it is a further furious ode to war and devastation. This is not a work of subtlety but the intensity and tight instrumentals cannot be denied.
The withering riff line of “Defeated, Destroyed and Divided” is reminiscent of Mayhem. The assault begins and it’s Marduk mark 2, grinding us down over its four minute duration. A choir at the end doesn’t add anything. Fire and aural assault summarise “Liberators”. In fact this would be an apt description of the whole EP. The guitar assault at the end sounded interesting but in the tradition of black metal, died after 10 seconds and the track ended. Normal service resumes with the angry and frantic “Of Bullets and Gas”. Vocally, there is variety with spoken edicts, deathly growls and a haunting choral line but for me the highlights were the unrelenting drums and razor-like guitar patterns. “Of Bullets and Gas”, which for me had the greatest explosive quality of these six blasts, end with a denial of murder. The intent of this album suggests this is false. Indeed murder is at the centre of the agenda here. All that is left are the tragic symphonic tones of “Deathcult Eternal” and its sad march through the empty, war-torn fields of destruction.
I cannot claim that “Bloodlands” is in any way taxing, unless you’re averse to black metal violence and bloodletting, in which case this isn’t for you anyway. This six track work has uniformity of direction. It’s intense and extreme as it is, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table of war.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)