Furia has been one of the most intriguing bands to follow since their formation two decades ago. Initially they went for a harsher, cold black metal sound that recalled some of the other bands from their native Poland, but even on early albums like Martwa polska jesień and Grudzień za grudniem there were hints of something different. In between their albums they would often experiment with ideas outside of black metal via the EP format, with 2013’s W melancholii being the first example of how they would push into completely different territory. Nocel and Księżyc milczy luty retained some hints of black metal tonality but sprawled the songwriting out towards post rock and a slew of other musical styles in the process. With this in mind, fans wondered where Furia would go next, and in 2021 the answer turned out to be an experimental radio drama of sorts. W śnialni had very little actual music to it, interspersing periods of silence with spoken word, acted lines, and hints of the band’s past material. It felt totally impenetrable as someone that didn’t speak Polish, and while I can’t say I enjoyed it per se I admired the band’s commitment to their vision. Two years later, Furia has returned with a more musically oriented album, and it’s another wild ride through the familiar and the unknown. Huta Luna’s first nine tracks go back to black metal with non-stop blast beats from the drums but varied riffing over top of it, and a twenty-seven-minute ambient piece that feels like a stretched-out progression of Nocel and Księżyc milczy luty. It may not be for everyone, but those that are open to blistering blast metal and sparse ambient in equal capacity will find Huta Luna to be an engaging listen.
If you had been hoping for Furia to return to more traditional black metal territory, Huta Luna’s first nine tracks will be exactly what you’re looking for. Though that’s not to say that the band hasn’t simply gone back to a second-wave or more traditional sound and not injected their own unique twists on it. It may take a few listens to get a feel for how they’ve done that, as with the drums going for blast beats that tread very similar territory in every track the attack does blur together slightly at some parts. Yet when you focus on the other aspects of the instrumentation, it becomes clear that Furia is on to something special here. Opener “Zamawianie trzecie” is abrasive and unrelenting in its speed, but the melodies that are placed over top of it have more of a folk-ish feel and an uplifting atmosphere, as though they are calling warriors to battle as they prepare to depart town. I’ve seen a few comments online mentioning that these might be traditional Polish folk melodies and given the band’s “Nekrofolk” branding since their early days, that would certainly make sense. Each song emphasizes a triumphant melody that seems to dance over top of the pummeling foundation, and Furia finds creative ways to shake things up on each song, whether it’s the almost psychedelic break on “Swawola niewola” or the shriller tonality on “Zamawianie wirujących Sarmatów (czwarte)”. Huta Luna feels like a return to the band’s black metal roots while still reflecting the more experimental and creative flourishes of their more recent output, and even with some of the drumming resulting in similar moments it’s some of the better material in the genre I’ve listened to recently. On the vocal front, things are kept sparse with only a handful of verses per song, but you get a lot of variety. Not only is there spoken word and harsher screaming, but Furia utilizes a lot of gang vocals in the form of chanting and yelling that lends to that battle cry feel. It also lends a more playful tone at points, which contrasts well with the more aggressive slants of the drums and some of the guitar work.
The black metal side of Huta Luna would’ve easily been a top tier album on its own, giving listeners a strong half hour of fierce and unrelenting songs. In the past, that would’ve been the case and a track like “Księżyc, czyli Słońce” likely would’ve come out as a stand-alone EP in Furia’s catalog, but instead they’ve chosen to bundle the two together. If you have no interest in ambient, field recordings, or anything on the sparser side you can easily skip this track, but those who have enjoyed the band’s past experimentation will find it fits well with the black metal. The roaring instrumentals subside down to a whisper, as you hear buzzing, stretched out guitar melodies, and other samples that have an eerie yet calming quality to them. If the first nine songs were Furia’s attempt at recapturing and then transforming their earlier sound, “Księżyc, czyli Słońce” comes off like a drone take on their more recent albums as it captures a similar sense of warmth and wonder. That calm gives way to some more ominous and dark moments towards the middle, but that recedes into the ether, and you’re left with distant singing that has a more folk tinge. In the wrong hands this could have easily been overstretched or simply boring, but Furia maintains the tension well and I found myself returning to this part of Huta Luna more often than I was expecting.
I have to admit I was a bit nervous going into this album, as while Furia has released some best-in-class material not all of their experiments have clicked with me. But what they’ve achieved with Huta Luna is a fantastic blending of old and new, bringing back some of the raw fury and emotion that’s appropriate for their band name while continuing the more abstract exploration. A few more variations in the drumming could’ve helped and the drone/ambient piece won’t click with everyone, but this is another top-notch effort from a band that is unafraid to rewrite the script and evolve with each release. Huta Luna is available from Pagan Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg