Poland's pagan black metal newcomers reach new heights with their immersive new being.
Words by Heaviest of Art:
Bands with the privilege of having an artist within their ranks are few and far in between, but when such rare occasion occurs, the results are organic and serve as a full multi-sensory embodiment of a record being crafted. In the case of VARMIA, multi-instrumentalist Piotr does just that, capturing the spiritual nature of this week's bal Lada with a depiction of characters following the moon into the silent woods of Warmia. As the in-house visual mastermind, he knows just how to do so and VARMIA's three full-lengths have benefitted greatly. However, visuals aren't VARMIA's only strong suit.
Now entering their fifth year since their inception, VARMIA have reached a level of sonic maturity with bal Lada, a feat previously touched on by the two predecessors, that being 2017's Z mar twych and 2018's W ciele nie. bal Lada, which arrives on March 12th through M-Theory Audio, finds the Polish unit at their songwriting best (so far), layering their traditional use of goat horn and tagelharpa with an otherwise ruthless black metal. It's between this instrumentation that the alternating vocals soar in wavelengths. They employs the ancient technique of “whitevoice” clean singing at times while then exploding with gutteral rage at others, consistently switching between the two when the time arises.
Opener woanie is brief but could very well be a battle cry, welcoming listeners with crashing drums and vocals on a united front. bielmo then ensues and mid-paced hell batters down with conviction. Zari Deiwas, which can be considered one of the album's gems, is a testament to the organic chemistry that lies between frontman Lasota, Piotr, bassist Ćwiara, and drummer Emil Walinowicz, all of whom deliver a standout performance. Throughout the song's near 8 minute length, listeners are walked through a maelstrom of sound, shifting at every turn with new vocal highs and lows carrying the energy forward. No one track sounds redundant or repetitive, each offering something fresh to keep an eye out for. An exquisite tagelharpa showing by Piotr closes the bal Lada experience with koniec, emphasizing atmosphere as the record fades away into the darkness.
With bal Lada, VARMIA grow their black metal creation to a project that could loosely be characterized as Wardruna and Enslaved in unison. Those looking for traditional, folk-laden atmospheres will find them here. Those looking for unbridled aggression will also find it here. Simply put, VARMIA have brought together a spiritual composition that bridges contrasting elements in a seamless manner that not only stands a notch above its counterparts, but puts the quartet among the elite of black metal's pagan arena.
bal Lada arrives on March 12th via M-Theory Audio. Order your copy it HERE.