Here at this site we haven’t paid nearly enough attention to the Polish band MROME. Even after marveling in print at their 2018 second album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell, we said not a word about their next full-length, Leech Ghetto, which dropped in 2019, nor did we notice their debut album, 2016’s The Basement Sophisma.
Well, they have no use for record labels and they don’t work with a PR machine. They don’t tour and they’re uninterested in promo photos or social media. In their own words, they exist “to say FUCK YOU to messengers of dread and obedience”, and do this by making concept albums in which the music, the words, and the graphics are interrelated.
Metal-Archives labels them “Thrash Metal”, which is like calling a cut and polished emerald “a greenish mineral”. Yes, they’ve been known to thrash, but their musical evolution has turned them into something that’s significantly more multi-faceted. Even in the case of that 2018 album, we dropped references to Hail Spirit Noir, Mantar, and “infernal death rock” (not “deathrock”). Their newest album Barbaric Values, which drops today, is even tougher to pigeon-hole.
The concept of this newest record (in the band’s words) is “based upon the moral and ethical conflict between socially imposed conditions and the primordial nature of man”. The lyrics in one of the songs is taken from a Polish translation of Shaun Tan‘s Tales from Outer Suburbia. The music in another one (the closing track) is based on Mihály Vig’s soundtrack to Béla Tarr‘s 2011 film A torinói ló (The Turn Horse). And those are mere hints at what lies in store within the album.
Maybe they’re not such useful hints. The album’s first single, “Mama“, provided a more concrete clue. As we wrote at the time, it’s especially powerful and massively groovesome. In addition to being physically compulsive, the skittering and slithering fretwork gets its hooks in the head too. It’s a sinister song, thanks in part to the vocals, which are both brooding and slaughtering. As icing on the cake, the song includes a wild, white-hot guitar solo.
The album’s other tracks will also trigger reflexive movement as you listen, whether it’s bobbing heads, tapping toes, pumping legs, or air-drumming. The booming and head-butting grooves are punchy, even in the persistent throb of the demented yet beguiling instrumental album closer, but that’s just one facet.
You’ll also encounter weird pulsating and scratching electronics; eerie picking, strumming, and bowing of strings; inventive guitar soloing; lots of immediately infectious riffing that gets the blood rushing (and the skin crawling), and abundant additional doses of utterly barbaric and tormented vocals (and creepy spoken words).
The songs are packed with rhythmic and melodic hooks, more so than in the average fishing trawler. But the moods of the music vary, even when MROME are doing their best to jolt your teeth out of your jaws, creating a tour of menace and mayhem, of dread and oozing poison, of dismal desolation and teeth-gnashing viciousness.
If there’s one quality that wraps itself around them all, it’s an aura of the supernatural, of lurking and looming horror, which sometimes leads into full-on audio hallucination (“Srebrne szlaki”, which includes the lyrics mentioned above, is a prime example of that).
The sound is relatively clean and the mix is even, allowing each instrument to stand out even as they join together. For example, you could spend the whole album just focusing on the lead-weighted bass and the skull-busting drums and not be disappointed in your investment of time.
And thus the album feeds many needs — the primal need to move, the need for escape from the mundane world, and the strange desire we all have to experience the thrill of fear. We’re very proud to share a full stream with you now: