By Nathanas Trismegistus
Wilczyca’s self-titled debut; released February 2, 2020 by Godz Ov War Productions. Naturally, being from an obscure, European label, this album will likely take some time to acquire. But, I’ll never let that stop me from shambling together a terrible, half-assed review.
And out of the naked blue comes this Polish two-piece black metal monstrosity. First off, fuck you and your unpronounceable language, Poland. There’s just too goddamn many adjacent consonants that I couldn’t guess how any of your words or names are pronounced. Second off, Poland is a beautiful country with a beautiful culture – staunchly Christian conservative – and there is a small subset of underground enthusiasts who have decided, “fuck all that shit, let’s make some blasphemous black metal.” It is my understanding that Poland’s black metal scene is a very understated, small, and (probably) very tight-knit circle of personae non gratae. Of course, Behemoth, a prominent metal band signed to a prominent metal label, is from Poland and they got their start by playing pagan black metal. And, of course, fans of black metal are no doubt familiar with Mgla and Batushka. And Graveland is, of course, infamous. But few people – at least with whom I am acquainted – are familiar with bands like Arkona, Czort, North, and Plaga; excellent bands which are criminally underrated or simply forgotten. (Fuck Besatt.) Even fewer people are familiar with Wilczyca. In fact, I know absolutely nothing about this band beyond their name and their one and only (studio?) release, which is a fantastic position to be in for anyone trying to uphold the “trve kvlt” tradition of mystery and isolation. They’ve probably had a demo (or is this the demo?) or two floating about the Polish underground scene, but it’s never crossed my path.
The production quality on Wilczyca is ore raw. It’s cold, abrasive, and absolutely sickening. The drums are perfectly sculpted for that muffled, dirty mattress sound for which black metal is famous. I’d dare say the bass drum mics were placed so low on the ground that they had to dig up holes in the studio’s basement just to position them. Every drum hit is granite hard. Every kick drum’s pound feels like a punch to the gut and every snare slam feels like a slap to the temple. The vocals, a phlegmy, throaty agonal rasp – laboriously scrape their way into the mix the way someone who was buried alive desperately claws their way to freedom. The bass, as usual, farts in the background.
As far as their music is concerned, I would compare Wilczyca most to the aforementioned Plaga. There are some weird, off-putting harmonies interrupted by the occasional warped, arpeggiated chords, each lending to the oppressive, melancholic atmosphere. The drums are played with an arrogant and aggressive strut throughout the album. Really infectious, high-energy style. I like it. However, this band does eventually succumb to the temptation of mindless repetition of blast beats and traditional tremolo-picked melodies, which is unfortunate.
As far as I’m concerned, the track 1, “Na Przeklętej Ziemi”, is just wasted space. I guess it sets the tone of the album well enough, but it doesn’t add much. There were a couple tracks, “Ego Memini Inferno” and “Przyjdź” (2 and 6, respectively), released in the last couple of months to promote the album’s release. Naturally, these were the best songs on the album. Track 3, the eponymous track to the eponymous album, is also good—has a good old-school vibe. I swear, though. Tracks 2, 3, and 5 sound like they belong on a different album than the rest. There really are two, distinct voices here vying for dominance. Track 4, “Burza”, as well as tracks 1, 6, and 7 are all instrumentals, which are always risky because of how – potentially – boring they are; and, for a seven-song album, that’s a lot of instrumentals. Track 7, “Proch”, just sounds like they dipped their patch cables in dogshit and let their cat run amok across their synth pad. What an awful way to end an otherwise respectable effort. What were they thinking?
Overall, I genuinely liked Wilczyca’s debut album and will probably listen to it again (I’ve listened to it three times now). It’s a nasty, vicious, yet succinct jaunt through ancient catacombs. (Does Poland have catacombs?) As for a recommendation, I think it’s purely a numbers game. If we were to enumerate the positives and negatives, side by side, in a list, I think the positives would genuinely outnumber the negatives. Fans of Plaga and old Mgla will probably like it. Definitely worth a listen. Not essential, though.