Album Review: Zabobony – Popiół


Way back in 1996 Polish Death/Black/Folk Metal legends Thy Worshiper released the album “Popiół” meaning ‘Ash’. During the process of creating and recording, a great deal, as with many albums, of spare melodies and ideas were created without reaching, at that point, fruition. These were intended to be expanded upon for a follow up in 1998 but it never happened and this material was set aside and largely forgotten by the time 2005’s follow up album “Signum” was completed.

Fast forward to 2019 and those forgotten but not lost pieces have resurfaced and been developed by former and present members of Thy Worshiper; MAG covering guitar and vocals, Kubov on bass and vocals with Bard on guitar and DQ on drums, all of whom have come together as Popiół, a band under the moniker of that groundbreaking album so that these  melodies, as an eight track fifty-eight minute offering, titled “Zabobony” which means superstition, can finally see the light of day.

The music contained on “Zabobony” speaks about ‘what is hidden in the noise of trees, wind and streams, about what we are afraid to think about and those who come to us in our dreams …’

Sound wise there is a lot of the atmosphere and core influence of Thy Worshiper but is at the same time a whole new beast entirely. A mix of Folk Metal edged melodies that are slightly wistful in their reflective nature, embedded within crushing blackened riffs, balance that with dark haunting cleans which are almost Gregorian at times particularly on second track “Gdy Słońce Zgaśnie”, containing brutally savage harsh vocals that dominate, alongside spoken elements, and the result is a powerful listen which manifests in many ways like a journey in the way it twist and turns, and ebbs and flows as it progresses. The remit for this album is certainly met in the content and Popiół portray their aims to ‘speak about what is hidden….. etc..’ well, the fact that the lyrics are in Polish doesn’t stand between a non Polish speaking listener and the music, which speaks for itself and transcends the language barrier, and if anything it adds to the overall atmosphere and personal mental image that forms as you listen.

The element that appeals the most to me is the polar extremes these tracks encompass, one minute brutal and crushing, the next hauntingly reflective but always speaking volumes, starting with the haunting yet brutal opener “Wybiło” where the impact comes in powerful waves from the midpoint of the track, or the reflective midpoint instrumental “Wilcze Jagody” which adds a moment of reflective contemplation before the equally powerful second half of the album. Take the mid tempo  “Ojcze Nienasz” with its punchy opening which takes a more reflective turn as it progresses, to the final piece, the powerfully reflective and emotive eight and a half minute “Czerõ”. Time wise too these tracks are pretty expansive, all running between five and nine and a half minutes duration, each one well considered, composed and delivered.

‘Zabobony’, out now and available from Godz ov War and well worth a listen, especially to fans of Thy Worshiper.

Rating – 4/5

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