Drawing first blood, Polish purveyor of death metal proposes a trip into dark, if fascinating, past.
Solo endeavors of heavy stripe aren’t thin on the ground nowadays, but as far as multi-instrumentalists’ efforts go they rarely display high quality. This album, helmed and performed by Mikołaj Popławski, does, and his debut as KROMHEIM – as opposed to GRAVASTAR, the artist’s other project – can be a start of something much larger than the result of Covid-induced lockdown. It’s only four songs, yet the set-up has a palpable potential.
While there’s no build-up towards the onslaught of “Prayer” that hits the listener right between the eyes, it doesn’t mean the mini-album is lacking subtlety, and the rustling vocals which soften the unrelenting riffs feel arresting, especially once they’ve been amassed into a choir and offset guitars’ assault, whose melodic layers offer quite an adventure. This is where “Freedom” opens a pop-tinctured panorama to replace the initial claustrophobia with a groovy dance – chthonic, if irresistible, and shot with a short bass solo – and folk allure.
For a contrast, “Revenge” sounds rather raw, as the voices seem engulfed by music until orchestral tones transpire from a sonic morass and six strings soar to the skies, but then “Storm Of The Gods” ushers in an epic picture of medieval mystery. It’s undermined to an extent by the overly compressed drums which stifle the piece’s dynamics yet allow the tune to blossom when piano and flute briefly introduce wondrous tranquility to the flow before turning hefty on an almost symphonic level. Had lyrics – not heard but printed in the booklet – borne more fantasy, the results could be more impressive; in a current state, though, here’s hoping this endeavor won’t end together with the virus.