Between paganism and superstitions, Popiół's "Zabobony"

POPIOŁ – Zabobony

Band: Popiół
Title: Zabobony
Year: 2019
Country: Poland
Label: Godz Ov War Productions
Contacts: Facebook

  1. Wybiło
  2. Gdy Słońce Zgaśnie
  3. Wilcze Jagody
  4. Ojcze Nienasz
  5. Chmury
  6. A Kysz!
  7. Umarli
  8. Czerń

Over the years Poland got us used to a certain kind of black metal, melodic and yet feral, sometimes mixed with other kind of metal, diluted with atmospheres and folk elements, and overall praised almost everywhere in all its forms. Starting from such basis as a band must be challenging but, just as Trup showed us a few weeks ago, Popiół violently emerged from the Polish underground with Zabobony, once again with Godz Ov War’s help.

The Polish quartet, nowadays a quintet, despite being at its first album, proved to be aware of its strong suits: three of its members come from Thy Worshipper, another local band active since the first ’90s, and, almost accidentally, their first record published back in ’96 was called Popiół (Introibo Ad Altare Dei). There’s been a huge evolution from the older project to the modern creature Popiół and yet the sacral aura enshrined by these guys’ music hasn’t changed much; on the contrary, it feels rather emphasised, now. Since the phrase introibo ad altare dei was used back in the day by priests at the edge of the altar before the beginning of any celebration as well as the ashes from which the band’s name come from can be linked to a certain kind of ritualistic atmosphere, it might feel somehow safe, at first, to assume that the band might sound similar to Litourgiya-era Batushka. Be aware, though, that MAG, Kubov and Bard’s project is nothing like a mere clone of one of the most debated acts of the last years.

Our guys’ black metal is mainly pagan at its core, very melodic, often enriched with not necessarily marked folk elements and also supported by discreet keyboard parts, sometimes. They chose to stick with their mother tongue when it comes to the singing, that, in spite of being seemingly the weak link in the whole Zabobony (Polish for Superstitions), proved instead to be the cornerstone of it all: whether declaimed, whispered or screamed, MAG and Kubov singing perfectly synergises with the fifty minutes of music composed by the Polish act; here the echo of the aforementioned Batushka appears more vividly, as much as their fellow countrymen Graveland’s.

The first track “Wybiło” well represents Popiół‘s skills and yet I feel it’s when we reach the album’s core that we meet the best of the band’s epicness/creativity. As revealed me by Google Translate, “Ojcze Nienasz” (“Father, You Don’t Know”) describes how God would abandon those who didn’t honour him enough, whereas “Chmury” features some of the most peculiar images that have recently meet my eyes («Tak maluję niebo chmurami / Tak maluję myśli lękami», Polish for «That’s how I paint the sky with clouds / That’s how I paint my thoughts with fears»).

Despite having only this album released, these Polish worshippers definitely know what they’re doing, as they’ve proved by writing an album filled with such peculiar elements it cannot be simply called good. I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about them over the next months and, as I wait for Zabobony‘s follow-up, you’d better know that Popiół deserve not to slip under your radar.