Album Review – Odraza / Rzeczom (2020)

A unique and caustic album of Black Metal made in Poland about myths, projections, appearances, fears we fight, and the legacy we cannot deny.

Formed in the year of 2009 in the obscure basements and gray courtyards of the charming city of Kraków, in Lesser Poland by vocalist, guitarist and bassist Stawrogin (Gruzja, Massemord and Totenmesse) and guitarist, bassist and drummer Priest (Massemord, Totenmesse and Voidhanger), the Stygian Black Metal duo known as Odraza, or “disgust” from Polish, returns from the pits of the underworld with their sophomore studio album Rzeczom (“things”), the follow up to their 2014 debut opus Esperalem Tkane. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Impressive-Art Studio in Beskidu Małego, Poland, and portraying the stunning Polish model Dorota Maria Kuźmicka as its cover art, Rzeczom will take you on a dark and captivating journey through the wicked world of Odraza. “We dedicate Rzeczom to ourselves, the authors. It is a diary; excerpts from our lives and the lives of the people once close to us come across the words by the authors that inspire us. It is about myths, about projections, appearances, fears we fight, and the legacy we cannot deny. It is also about the lie – after all, it is but us who decide how many of those memories reflect what has never been,” darkly commented the duo about their new and weird creation.

In the opening tune titled Schadenfreude (“malicious joy” or “spitefulness” from German), an eerie, cryptic intro quickly explodes into modern and visceral Black Metal led by the duo’s scorching riffs, with Priest blasting savagery and intricacy through his beats nonstop. The album couldn’t have started in a better (and more venomous) way, I might say, with the duo’s rumbling bass igniting the title-track Rzeczom, sounding as if Triptykon went full Blackened Doom. Moreover, Stawrogin growls and barks like a true demonic beast throughout the entire song, spiced up by somber passages and vicious backing vocals, resulting in a song definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. Then back to a more ferocious and berserk mode those Polish metallers fire the Behemoth-inspired W Godzinie Wilka (“at the hour of the wolf”), bringing to our ears Blackened Death Metal at its finest with Stawrogin’s harsh gnarls being effectively supported by Priest’s pounding drums; whereas a serene, acoustic intro permeates the air in …Twoją Rzecz Też (“…your thing too”), evolving into a metallic and alternative, almost circus-like onrush of sounds showcasing the band’s versatility and their will to never sound outdated or repetitive.

Once again sounding wicked and vile form start to finish, the duo surprises us with another round of unusual extreme music in Długa 24 (“long 24”), where Stawrogin does a very entertaining job with both his darker vocals and his clean vociferations, followed by Świt Opowiadaczy (“dawn of the storytellers”), offering the listener six minutes of obscure passages and endless violence flowing from their damned instruments, with Priest stealing the spotlight with his frantic and intricate drumming. And venturing through the realms of Doom and Stoner Metal to give their core Black Metal an even more badass vibe, they offer us all Młot Na Małe Miasta (“a hammer for small towns”), with both Stawrogin and Priest extracting electricity from their stringed weapons and, therefore, keeping the album at a high level of obscurity and madness.

After such demented tune, we’re treated to Najkrótsza Z Wieczności (“the shortest of eternities”), a contemplative and melancholic display of extreme music made in Poland where Stawrogin devilishly declaims the song’s Polish words, being multi-layered and grim just the way we like it in Extreme Metal. Following this cryptic composition, a phantasmagorical storm is about to begin in Bempo, growing in intensity until morphing into ass-kicking Blackened Death Metal led by Priest’s always fulminating drums, also showcasing a razor-edged guitar solo by guest musician Azar. And last but not least, it’s time for Odraza to stun us once and for all with eight minutes of absolute darkness in the instrumental aria Ja Nie Stąd (“I’m not from here”), starting in a progressive and atmospheric manner and flowing beautifully to the riffage and beats by the band’s dynamic duo until its inevitable and ethereal end.

This precious gem of contemporary Black Metal made in Poland can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you should definitely buy a copy of the album from Odraza’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Godz Ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore and from Discogs, showing your true support to the talented Stawrogin and Priest and to the entire underground scene. Also, don’t forget to follow Odraza on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their distinguished music. It doesn’t matter if you are a native Polish metalhead or if you don’t understand a single word said by the band in Rzeczom, this is the type of album that’s a must-have in your collection of dark and acid extreme music, and just like Odraza dedicated the album to themselves, you can go ahead a dedicate it to your own Black Metal persona in your most introspective moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Schadenfreude, W Godzinie Wilka and Młot Na Małe Miasta.

Worst moments of the album: Długa 24.

Released in 2020 Godz Ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Schadenfreude 4:18
2. Rzeczom 5:21
3. W Godzinie Wilka 4:50
4. …Twoją Rzecz Też 5:43
5. Długa 24 2:06
6. Świt Opowiadaczy 6:01
7. Młot Na Małe Miasta 5:41
8. Najkrótsza Z Wieczności 5:06
9. Bempo 6:29
10. Ja Nie Stąd 8:01

Band members
Stawrogin – vocals, guitars, bass
Priest – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musician
Azar – guitar solo on “Najkrótsza Z Wieczności” and “Bempo”

Album Review – Refusal / Epitome of Void (2019)

A straight-to-the-point album of Finnish Crust Old School Death Metal, as pulverizing, heavy and infernal as it can be.

Founded back in 2008 in the city of Helsinki, Finland by guitarist Tero Pirhonen and bassist Timo Pirhonen, before bringing in vocalist Niikka Lius, drummer Aleksi Roitto and more recently guitarist Kalle Kuosmanen to complete the band, the unrelenting squad that goes by the name of Refusal does not just play your regular Death Metal, but something they like to call “Finnish Crust Old School Death Metal”, smashing you like an insect with all their fury and heaviness without showing a single drop of mercy. After releasing several demos and their debut full-length album We Rot Within, in 2016, Refusal are back in action in 2019 with a brand new (and pulverizing) opus, beautifully titled Epitome of Void. Featuring a somber artwork by Finnish artist Sakke Vinko, Epitome of Void is highly recommended for fans of the music by iconic bands like Napalm Death, Nasum and Entombed, being absolutely perfect for slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow.

The distorted guitars by Tero and Kalle ignite the pulverizing opening track Suffocate, reminding me of the devilish sound by Turkish beasts Diabolizer, or in other words, a brutal slamming Death Metal extravaganza led by Niika and his deep, visceral growls. If you survive their initial onrush of extreme music get ready for the insanely heavy Hectic, showcasing an enraged Niikka on vocals while Aleksi decimates his drums in a precise and groovy manner, accompanied by Timo’s roaring bass; whereas Disregard brings forward a less frantic but still acid and violent version of the band, urging us all to bang our heads manically to the infernal riffs by Tero and Kalle while Timo smashes his bass chords nonstop.

Disgust is just as brutal as Death Metal can be, with Refusal inviting us all to crush our skulls into the circle pit while Niikaa vomits the song’s lyrics in a very traditional way; followed by Slaves, the darkest of all songs in Epitome of Void, showcasing hints of classic, obscure Black Metal added to their unrelenting music. Moreover, Tero and Timo bring some welcome balance to the sonic havoc going on with their crisp solos. Then it’s time for more demented slamming to the infernal beats by Aleksi in Exploit, while Niikka keeps growling and vociferating manically for our total delight. Put differently, this is the undisputed epitome of Refusal’s classic Death Metal, highly recommended for all fans of the genre.

If you think your neck will have a break from all the insane headbanging proposed by Refusal you’re absolutely wrong, as the band ignites their most demonic mode in the rip-roaring Bound, with their guitars and drums being in full destructive force. Then their second to last deranged Death Metal attack comes in the form of Futile, where all band members sound even more infuriated than ever, pleasing anyone who admires old school Brutal Death Metal from the bottom of their (blackened) hearts, setting the stage for the the thunderous and vile closing tune Void, where the smashing sounds of drums and bass provide Niikka the perfect atmosphere for his sick guttural vocals. There’s no escape from Refusal, and their most unfriendly, obscure and intricate creation beautifully represents all their fury and rage, ending the album on a very high note.

Do you have what it takes to face the demolishing Death Metal by Refusal? If your answer is yes, simply slam into the pit by listening to Epitome of Void in full on Spotify, by following the band on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, Epitome of Void, which by the way is on sale from Refusal’s own BandCamp page, from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs, will not change or revolutionize the underground metal scene at all; quite the contrary, it’s pure old school Death Metal, without any artificial elements nor any type of shenanigans, thoroughly crafted by five Finnish guys who are beyond loyal to the foundations of the genre, deserving all our admiration and support for keeping the flames of true Death Metal alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Hectic, Disgust and Exploit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. Suffocate 2:20
2. Hectic 2:51
3. Disregard 3:13
4. Disgust 3:27
5. Slaves 4:33
6. Exploit 1:48
7. Bound 4:14
8. Futile 4:10
9. Void 5:19

Band members
Niikka Lius – vocals
Tero Pirhonen – guitars
Kalle Kuosmanen – guitars
Timo Pirhonen – bass, backing vocals
Aleksi Roitto – drums