(The sky may be on fire, but Andy Synn still has new music to share with you all)
While the start of 2023 has (thankfully) been relatively calm – release-wise, at least – allowing us all to take a metaphorical (and also literal) breather before the inevitable onslaught of new albums begins again, there have already been a handful of highly-anticipated, and justifiably hyped, which have received the lion’s share of the coverage over the past few weeks.
As a result, there’s also been a fair few more underground and/or underappreciated artists/albums which haven’t received their due, including (but by no means limited to) the new album from Poland’s Death Crusade – eleven tracks of crusty grindy, Punk-infused Death Metal (and I know some may argue with this description, but I hear at least as much Entombed in this album as I do Extreme Noise Terror and their ilk) whose gnarly riffs and gravel-gargling vocals disguise a keenly-honed sense of structure and flow.
With one notable exception, every track here is an absolute rager, making the album as a whole a series of savage, go-for-the-throat aggro-anthems each taking aim – in turn – at endemic issues of political corruption, social isolation, the death of community, and the enforcement of conformity.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the songs are all the same – as exemplified by the opening combo of “Szary” and “Izolacja”, with the former’s doomy opening minutes eventually giving way to a breakneck Death Metal gallop, while the latter’s squalling assault upon the senses errs more towards the blinding intensity of Grindcore godfathers Rotten Sound and Repulsion.
Instrumentally speaking, too, the band demonstrate that they’re more than capable of switching things up – without abandoning their core sound – when necessary, whether that’s by swapping face-melting fury for chunky groove (“Zrównani”), or switching out d-beats for blastbeats (and vice versa), or simply dropping down to a shamelessly swaggering stomp-along (“Szczujnia”) or settling into a devastatingly doomy groove (“Ode Złego”).
Perhaps most intriguingly, Znów płonie niebo ends not with the expected “bang”… nor with an unsatisfying whimper… but with the surprisingly sombre and graceful instrumental strains of the title-track. And while I’ll admit I was initially thrown by this decision, over time I’ve come to appreciate how much it adds to the record, serving as a calming coda after a solid thirty minutes of abrasive, unwavering intensity.
So, despite their relative obscurity, Death Crusade really do have the potential for a lot of crossover success, as this is one album which could/should appeal just as much to crazy-eyed Crust Punks and dedicated Death Metallers as it does to Grindcore fanatics and Hardcore misfits.