With the accessibility of information through the Internet, there have been fewer anonymous metal bands in recent years and some of the mystique has been lost. So it’s always interesting to come across a group that has been around for some time and there is very little information available about them. This is exactly the case with Kły, who released their debut demo last year after twenty years of existence and have followed it up this year with Szczerzenie. Aside from the fact that they’re based in Poland and worked with Furia’s Nihil at Czyściec studio, the band remains shrouded in mystery and has let their music speak for itself. And what a statement it is, as this sense of the unknown is woven directly into their material and Szczerzenie expands outwards from its black metal base into something that sounds genuinely different.
Given Nihil’s involvement it may not be that surprising that there are specific sections where Kły resembles Furia’s recent material, but this doesn’t mean that they have gone down the exact same path. There’s a similar emphasis on textured arrangements that bring out the strength of each instrument, and unexpected shifts between abrasive black metal and softer riffing that has a calm yet unsettling atmosphere. Black metal may serve as the base of many of the arrangements, and sometimes there are passages that are reminiscent of the early days of blackgaze before that term had even become a buzzword. But there’s a lot more happening besides this, and the opening of songs like “Wypełni” and “Dale” give off a dark and earthy sound that reminds me of a number of different neo-folk and post-punk bands. Similar to these genres, there’s an emphasis on specific riffs that draw the listener in on first listen that reveal subtle nuances around them after spending additional time with the album. Szczerzenie is wrapped in a sense of mysticism an rather than touching upon the constant chaos and violence than is typical for black metal there’s a sense of warmth and curiosity as you peel back the layers of each track.
“Bliże” starts the album off with soft whispered vocals that have an ominous feel to them, and it isn’t until a few minutes into the second song that the harsher ranges appear. This initial pitch is reminiscent of both Furia and Emptiness, with each word hanging over the recording like a specter. Once the harsher screams come into play the energy level ramps up considerably, and the abrasiveness of the performance stands out in contrast with the mellower instrumentation. What stands out upon repeated listens is that even though Kły is regularly alternating between screaming and singing, the pitches vary wildly and it feels like the vocalist is always doing something slightly different. It leaves a strong impression, and even for someone like me who doesn’t understand Polish at all I found myself captivated by the performance from beginning to end.
It’s unclear whether Kły has been active for their two decades of existence or remained dormant for some time, but whatever the case may be they’ve written an album that pushes atmospheric black metal outwards towards unknown and intriguing paths. This is another April release that likely slipped under the radar for many, but it’s worth spending some quality time with in order to let the dreary atmosphere wash over you. I’m not sure what’s in the water but Poland continues to spawn black metal and other extreme variants that are doing something different from the rest. Szczerzenie is out on Pagan Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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