(We present the January 2018 edition of THE SYNN REPORT, in which Andy compiles reviews of releases by the Polish band Redemptor.)
Recommended for fans of: Decapitated, Anata, Rivers of Nihil
If you’ve been paying attention at all recently you’ll have caught the name Redemptor as one of the bands featured in my Personal Top Ten of 2017, and may also have noticed that I promised to deliver a Synn Report on the group as soon as possible.
Well, today is that day.
Over the course of three albums and one EP the Polish quintet have steadily evolved their sound from the Schuldiner-esque strains of their debut album None Pointless Balance to the angular hooks and merciless precision of 4th Density and The Jugglernaut, with the process finally culminating in the gargantuan grooves and captivating atmospherics of last year’s utterly crushing Arthaneum.
NONE POINTLESS BALANCE – 2007
The band’s debut wastes little time in getting things going, kicking off with the razor-sharp riffage and chunky, lurching rhythms of “Spleen”, an ambitiously constructed opener which incorporates some seriously impressive fretwork, some surprisingly moody melodies, and some perfectly gruesome gutturals, over the course of its seven-minute run time.
“Claw the Greed” is a chunkier slab of heavyweight riffery and utterly pummeling drum work which (the occasional spiraling solo aside) barely gives you a moment’s reprieve from the sheer metallic mayhem, and “Glazed Heart of Fire” picks up this baton and runs with it, upping the chaos quotient while also hammering down some instantly infectious (and hellishly heavy) hooks along the way.
“Radial Vestiges” initially find the band easing off on the gas a little, reducing the overall velocity but increasing the accuracy of their machinelike metallic assault, although the song’s mix of twitchy technicality and rumbling grooves is still interspersed with the occasional psychotic spasm of blastbeats… which make a major return to prominence during the rapid-fire rampage of “Shapeless Lifeform”, whose seven minutes of savage riffs, sweeping melodies, and diaphragm-wrenching gutturals owe a fair bit to early Decrepit Birth and the almighty Death (particularly during the song’s indisputably catchy-yet-complex second half, where guitarist Daniel Kesler really lets his fingers fly up and down the fretboard).
The intro to “Whispering Balance” finds the band heading further down the melodic rabbit-hole before emerging in a much heavier, much nastier form, spewing forth a barrage of chugging riffs, whiplashing drums, and swarming solos with reckless abandon, all of which leads into the crunch-tastic chug of the album’s brutally headbangable finale, the Soreption-esque “Return of Kermes”, which proves to be not only one of the best tracks on the entire record, but also a pitch-perfect closer.
4TH DENSITY – 2011
Featuring an almost entirely new line-up (only guitarist Daniel Kesler remains, although several of the new members would go on to become permanent fixtures in the band), the four tracks which make up Redemptor’s 2011 EP find the group stepping outside of the shadow of their earlier influences and producing a bevy of material that not only sounds bigger, bolder, and more confident, but also far more distinctive.
In many ways this transition/transformation recalls the shift in style/approach which Psycroptic undertook leading up to the creation of Symbols of Failure, not least with the addition of new vocalist Michal Loranc, who brings to bear not just a seriously pissed-off and belligerent bark but also a rather prodigious guttural growl to boot.
Opener “Extinction Warning Report”, for example, is an explosive riff-fest of speeding-shrapnel and neck-snapping rhythms, which finds the group streamlining and twisting their exceptional technical talents into ever more angular and aggressive shapes, while “Inhuman Molecule” brings a bit more groove to the proceedings, albeit in a decidedly dynamic and energetic fashion, slamming the listener with a potent mix of punchy hooks and brutally infectious riffery which leads seamlessly into the hypnotic intensity and controlled-explosions of carefully calculated chaos which underpin the brutal “Vector of Sociopathic Nation”.
Closing with the coiled tension and hyper-adrenalised heaviness of the title track, 4th Density proves itself to be not just a meaty metallic delight in its own right, but also the opening chapter in a brand new era for the Polish punishers.
THE JUGGLERNAUT – 2014
The group’s second album is where they really started to find their own voice, carrying over three members from the previous EP (mainstay Daniel Kesler, guitarist Hubert Więcek, and vocalist Michal Loranc) and bringing aboard Piotr Tokarz on bass and the ever-impressive “Krimh” Lechner to handle the drums.
Mixing juddering, pneumatic riffs in the vein of Decapitated and/or Morbid Angel with a knack for moody melodic atmosphere and measured technicality in the vein of those young whippersnappers in Rivers of Nihil, songs like rocket-propelled opener “Of Juggler, Viper and Crown” and its similarly propulsive and hook-heavy follow-up “Ubermachine (The Eugenics)”, showcase a band now operating on another level entirely.
“Solar Grave. Classified” is four minutes of molten metallic fury and menacing grooves intercut with moments of insidious melody and convulsive, cathartic chaos, that conjures up an oppressively immersive sense of atmosphere along the way, while “Engineers of Discord” is a churning chug-a-thon of epic proportions which also benefits from a bevy of fret-dancing lead guitar licks as well as the odd unexpected passage of eerie melodic malevolence.
“Turn the Irreversible” kicks off with a thunderous broadside of punitive blastbeats courtesy of percussive jugg(l)ernaut Krimh, then quickly switches to a frantic, thrashy mode of attack which serves to highlight the sharp-edged angularity and hard-hitting intensity of Kesler and Więcek’s guitar work, before making a sudden left turn into brooding, doom-laden ambience in the track’s second half.
“Embedded Heredity” continues to showcase the band’s innate gift for mixing heavy hooks and devastating dynamics to astonishing effect, and is probably one of the catchiest songs on the entire album, paving the way for the hypnotic grooves, mesmerising melodies, and gut-churning, Gojira-meets-Decapitated riffs of “Endless Circle of Samsara”.
Penultimate track “Sentient Cage” is a bombastic bruiser of humongous, chugging riffage and sinister, dissonance-laced melodies, backed up by Krimh’s characteristically diverse drumwork and topped off with a deadly dose of effortlessly agile fretwork, as well as the visceral vocals of Michal Loranc, which eventually gives way to the album’s (ever so slightly anticlimactic) instrumental finale “Infinite Liberation”.
ARTHANEUM – 2017
The band’s third album is as big a step up from its predecessor, in terms of both pure quality and potent, pulverising power, as its predecessor was from their debut, and finds the band simultaneously becoming both heavier and more atmospheric at the same time.
Mammoth opener “Éminence Grise” delivers a plethora of juddering, Immolation-esque riffs underpinned by an undercurrent of eerie atmosphere reminiscent of NCS-favourites Nero di Marte, replete with an array of unpredictable, angular hooks and lucid, livewire lead parts, while the oppressive “Enormous, Absolute” fuses dense, doomy chords and proggy melody in a way that recalls both Rivers of Nihil and underrated French firebrands Barús.
These references and name-drops are really only intended as a guide to get you in the right headspace to properly appreciate the band’s distinctive brand of brutally heavy, subtly technical, and deeply immersive Death Metal however, as Arthaneum really does stand out from the crowd with (seemingly) surprisingly little effort.
Michal Loranc’s bestial bellow leads the way during the pummelling “Cremation of Care”, which finds Kesler and Więcek cranking out an impressive array of clanking riffs and spiralling solos atop the seething percussive patterns produced by new drummer Paweł Jaroszewicz, while “Semantic Incoherence” pushes the technical elements (not to mention the Anata comparisons) of the band’s sound right to the forefront, throwing splashes of esoteric melody, mechanically-precise riffage, and berserk blastbeats – not to mention some unexpectedly progressive touches – into the mix with what can only be described as either extreme confidence or reckless abandon
The title-track is a brooding slow-burner which builds, over the course of six (and a bit) minutes, towards a titanic, uber-metallic crescendo, with Loranc really giving his deathly pipes a seriously gruesome and guttural workout, following which the megaton riffs of “Illusory Fountain” find the band channelling their inner Morbid Angel, while also indulging their growing progressive proclivities in a slow-motion avalanche of deceptively difficult and devilishly doomy riffage, threaded through with veins of deviously dark melody.
The twisted angles and jerky, twitching riffs of “Iconic” pick up the pace a little, alternating between sudden bursts of frenetic, blastbeat-driven ferocity and ominous passages of creeping, crawling ambience after which – following the much-needed breathing space offered by sombre instrumental “Wave” – the aptly-named “Tremor” attempts to rattle your bones and demolish your foundations in a tumultuous bombardment of explosive riffery and spell-binding melody.
And while penultimate number “What Is to Come” certainly provides a welcome dose of instrumental introspection, its placement in the track order is perhaps a little questionable. However the band have definitely saved the best for last, as colossal closer “Departure” proves to be the heaviest, hookiest, most atmospheric, and most monstrously intense song on the entire album.