It was only until very recently that I looked into the Polish black metal scene, and I must say that they have an amazing underground scene. There is so much hidden talent in Poland that it almost seemed like a crime for me to overlook such a prolific scene. One underground band that stood out to me was Blaze
. They give off such an amazing vibe from their music which I didn’t really get from the others. The music is; subtle, yet potent…traditional, yet modern… tolerantly generic, yet awesome.
The first thing to mention is the sheer complexity of the music. Blaze
is a very, very technical black metal band. There is no such thing as “technical black metal”, so I’m finding it quite hard to find a genre to put this band in, and it would be wrong of me to just make up a genre on the spot. Well, the only thing to do is make a comparison to a mainstream band that we all know and lover, Marduk
is one of the most insane bands to ever hit the black metal scene, who also ended up to being one of the most successful. I think, their secret lies within the musical structure because they were one of the only bands (at the time) who could make energetic, super fast, super brutal black metal and get away with it not being a pile of shit. They kept things relatively neat, tidy and organised in comparison with other black metal bands. So where does this leave Blaze
? In my opinion, I think that Marduk
are very similar in an aesthetic sense. In particular, the brutality, the contemporary vibe and the overall “kvltness” i.e. they both have the same primary feeling behind the music.
Don’t get me wrong, Blaze
isn’t just another wannabe Marduk
, they do have an extension to their sound. Blaze
definitely have a Bestial
characteristic which is quite evident in The Hierophant
; sheer technicality of the drumming, the sound and structure of the guitar work and even the extremely harsh vocal style, all promote a bestial vibe to the music. This is so evident, that when I first heard The Hierophant
, I was quite tempted to label it as war metal but there is just something not right with labelling them that. Unlike other Bestial
black metal/war metal bands though, Blaze
don’t seem as grim or as dirty as say, Archgoat
. This is probably the main reason why I don’t see them as war metal but this is vital to keeping that contemporary feeling behind their music, and it is this “contemporary feeling” that is to be Blaze
Grim or dirty, Blaze
is not, that being said there is a little bit of dark feeling behind in the atmosphere. Like any other black metal band who have slight imprints of bestiality, Blaze
sound rather dark. I’m not sure about others, but The Hierophant
sounds like a very dark album which has a sense of power behind it. The Hierophant
sounds more sinister than anything Marduk
has ever produced (maybe aside from their old underground days) but I don’t exactly know why or how, The Hierophant
seems like this in its nature. I believe it stems from the guitar riffs and the high pitched tuning of them. This is the typical method that black metal bands (including Blaze
) tend to utilize to create an evil atmosphere and quite honestly I don’t blame them, because it works, so why not? But, what I do like about the balefulness in Blaze
’s music is that they’ve managed to achieve this in high quality. What I mean by this is that they didn’t have to resort to recording music in a tin can to make their music sound evil and dark and everything else raw and bestial black metal bands tend to do in an effort to seem more kvlt. There aren’t any fuzzy sounds in the background, there isn’t any atmospheric “trickery” involved, the recording of The Hierophant
is as clear as crystal. I don’t know about you, but I find that everything is emphasised with high quality recording; the vocals, the drumming and the guitars. The music sounds faster, more comprehensible and less of an ear sore, but now we’re adding evil to the mix? That
’s just the icing on the cake.
Is it just me, or is everyone else getting bored with brutal black metal bands being, well… brutal, all the time. I just get bored of listening to the same; riffs, song structure and blast beats over and over again with no variation, and I’m not talking about listening to one album or band, it seems like a common trend has been achieved and black metal bands from around the world transmit this sound through Chinese whispers. It’s almost like there are strict guide lines on how extreme styles of black metal should sound like, leaving bands with no leeway for innovation or flexibility of their sound. I think even the band members for Blaze
have had enough of this, they didn’t want to fall into the generic trap that many others have fallen into before them. Blaze
have found a neat solution and have put a nice band-aid on the problem. The answer is so simple, that generic black metal bands all over the world should give themselves a nice slap in the face for not thinking of it. The answer lies within the guitars, interesting guitars at that. Yeah, sure, there are moments where the guitar work is nothing spectacular and generic as all hell. But they’ve thrown in guitar solos, moments of shredding in the background and a few riffs that would be fit for a progressive metal band. Not putting the guitars at the forefront of their music has also seemed to pay off because I think that they sound different without trying to sound different, it just comes naturally and everyone knows that nature does everything the best. Not only this, but these little sections of variation to the guitars change the mood of the tracks and just adds a whole new dimension to the atmosphere.
For those who enjoy calmer forms of black metal, do not despair, moments of peace and serenity are not completely absent from The Hierophant
(even though I wouldn’t recommend The Hierophant
as bed time music). There are definitely slow moments in The Hierophant
and they’re littered throughout the album which I think increase the overall replay value of music. There’re just the right tone, played at just the right time and right quantity to not disrupt the main objective of The Hierophant
in the first place, to be an insane album. I think that quality of them should also be commended; it’s easy to tell that they didn’t do this to JUST have a variation of sound, they have put a lot thought into these short passages (no matter how short they may be) and have taken full advantage of the opportunities to improve their sound.
Overall, The Hierophant
has fulfilled its purpose to be a brutal yet, interesting black metal album and seeing that it was released in 2011, they have a lot of competition around. Poland has an extremely tight, competitive underground black metal scene and any band that stands out there should be addressed for the world to hear. Even though some elements in The Hierophant
aren’t anything new and are overused in black metal, the mood that Blaze
has set is outstanding. I highly recommend Blaze
to anyone who enjoys their black metal; fast, bestial and sinister with touches of tranquillity on the side. The full experience of The Hierophant
can only be attained if the album is thoroughly explored and embraced. But for those who are simply looking for a one night stand, you cannot go past the track “Gospel of the Serpent
’s Kin” because it’s the complete Blaze
package in one song. I highly recommend Blaze
’s The Hierophant
and I think it’s worth a 16/20.