Banisher - Oniric Delusions 01Listening to Oniric Delusions this past week got me thinking about vanilla ice cream. It’s a dessert that’s not so much widely loved as universally accepted as a reliable standby to other, more complex dishes. Proper application of toppings however can transform this most mundane of treats into something special and unique. When I learned that Banisher hails from Poland and markets themselves as extreme death metal, I couldn’t help but raise my expectations at least a little. For me, Poland is inextricably bound to its excellent death metal bands, and the prospect of a Vader-grindcore melding or a technical take on Behemoth had me intrigued. Taking into account that longtime guitarist Hubert Więcek was recently deemed talented enough to join the ranks of the legendary Decapitated on bass, I was left wondering: could Banisher be Poland’s next great death metal sundae? Or is the “extreme” death metal they promise really code for “double-vanilla?”

As it turns out, the answer isn’t quite so cut-and-dry, as Banisher introduces a few interesting ingredients to the genre formula yet ultimately fails to craft a unique recipe. What’s immediately apparent is that Oniric Delusions isn’t so much “extreme” death metal as it is technical; the entirety of the fret-board is explored in each song, and the whole thing is stuffed to the gills with intricate drum fills. Banisher’s greatest strength, however, lies not in their technical prowess but rather in their songwriting abilities, which is especially gratifying in a genre that too often prizes raw brutality and showy musicianship above thoughtful construction. Each song builds towards a logical conclusion by constructing a playbook of riffs that are modified throughout, and the record as a whole feels as though it was assembled with a purpose, with song variety increasing towards the end to create an album with a unique flow.

Solid construction aside, Oniric Delusions is ultimately damaged by just how “okay” everything sounds when it could so clearly be quite good, even great. There are some sprinkles of brutal and melodic death metal here, but not nearly enough to place Banisher within the same realm as Severed Savior or Arsis. It feels like the level of technicality on display is the bare minimum a death metal band could exhibit and still get away with being classified as tech-death; there are tempo and time signature switch-ups, but none of them are particularly surprising and not once was I blown away by the complexity of the riffs. No aspect of Oniric Delusions comes across as being particularly boring, but nothing here makes Banisher stand out from the glut of modern tech death acts.

Banisher - Oniric Delusions 02The modern production is slick yet inoffensive; Szczepan Inglot’s aggressive vocals and Jacek Gut’s drumming are prioritized in the mix and they pack a punch, yet the guitar tone is bland (especially in the higher registers) and the bass is buried to undetectable depths. Still the level of clarity highlights the way that Więcek and Gut work in precise tandem, with the former’s staccato style complementing the latter’s relentless blast beats (complemented by tasteful implementation of cowbell.) Album opener “Axes to Fall” showcases this dynamic, with varied drum patterns and riffs that simultaneously crush and groove to make for some of the album’s most intriguing (though not terribly exciting) moments. The other major highlight is closing track “The Fatal Parable of a Certain Mercenary,” which throws a last-minute curveball by incorporating slower tempos and blackened melodies into the band’s repertoire. It’s a shame this track comes at the expense of Banisher’s most technical and brutal elements.

In the end, Oniric Delusions was a frustrating experience for me. It’s an enjoyable listen overall and the songs are all rock-solid in their construction (there are only seven of them, making for a breezy half-hour of decent death metal), but at the same time there’s just nothing here to grant Banisher a unique identity. If glimmers of the band’s genre-weaving capabilities and the members’ sheer precision is any indication, the band may be on the cusp of of something truly unique within the style. As it stands, Oniric Delusions is a decent diversion from genre mainstays, likely to satisfy diehard death metal junkies while ultimately falling under the radar of anyone in search of something a bit more fulfilling.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Deformeathing Records
Websites: banisher.pl | banisher.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/banisherofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 3rd, 2016

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I almost felt compelled to defend this simply due to the fact that this is a death metal release, from Poland. I then clicked on the embedded track.

    They aren’t real Poles.

  • Reese Burns

    Well, at least it has nice cover art. They way that glowing guy is coloured, I could look at that all day. Also, for some great death metal, Vader just released an EP, so I’m set.

    • GardensTale

      You should play Ori and the Blind Forest, they employ that glowing style a lot (and the game is phenomenal)

      • Reese Burns

        I have played it! It’s really good!

        • GardensTale

          I’m proud of you. We can be buds now.

          • Reese Burns

            Does that mean I can finally sit at the cool kids’ table?

  • At about the 3:40 mark the song switches gears and becomes melodeath. Kind of odd for extreme death metal.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    Hey neat, it’s my first review! Hi everyone, happy to be part of the community.

    • Bart the Repairman

      Your text allows to build very clear impression of the album before listening to it (or not), which IMO is the key indicator of good review. Congrats!

    • GardensTale

      Welcome to the fold! My second review should be up any time, so we’re colleague rookies in that sense. Your review is really good, I’m more of a melodic metalhead generally but you still made it really clear to me where the record failed and succeeded, even if it’s not my preferred subgenre. Great job!

      • Eldritch Elitist

        Hey, thanks! I thought your Howling Giant review was great as well, appropriately concise as all EP reviews should be. Looking forward to your next one.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Welcome to the AMG community and congrats on the review. For what my opinion is worth (not much, being the resident Alestorm aficionado and all) this is a mighty fine first impression.

      • Eldritch Elitist

        I value your opinion, but maybe that doesn’t matter much coming from a guy who’s currently listening to the new Twilight Force album. Thanks for the welcome and the feedback!

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Never heard of Twilight Force before now, but if “Battle of Arcane Might” is any indication of their sound that’s grounds for a reckless endangerment suit if recommended to someone with lactose intolerance. In other words, it’s not bad!

          • Eldritch Elitist

            I’m pleased that I’m not the only one here with an affinity for both Inquisition and constipation-inducing Euro-power.

          • The Nerd.

            Can never have too much cheese.

        • GardensTale

          I hadn’t heard of these guys before, it’s pretty good! It’s basically “Dragonforce with a real songwriter and extra keyboards” so far. Sometimes a nice sparkly slab of my little pony metal is just perfect for cheering me up, so thanks!

          • Eldritch Elitist

            Sorta like Rhapsody crossed with DragonForce, which basically describes Pathfinder. But seeing as how that band is dead this is a great replacement. Shame about that mix though…

      • Westpaceagle

        I thought there was a closet or something at AMG headquarters where rookies got locked until they meet their quota of 10 one-man ambient black metal reviews. Are you guys getting soft over there?

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          There is a closet, but only one. We have too many newbies to fit in there now, and the broom has to go somewhere after all. Anyways, we’ve dug a hole in the yard and put some newbies down there, where we throw them warm non-alcoholic beer for sustenance.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I found an old bottle of Zima lying in the basement and threw it down to one of the newbies in the hole. He devoured it immediately. It was cute.

          • Fuzzybunny

            What do you guys use a broom for?
            Actually, never mind…. :D

    • The Nerd.

      Welcome. Enjoy the staff Hazing. It’s always good to have new writers, even if the album isn’t so good.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      Welcome to the party. There’s so many rookies kicking around here, we should start a Pogues tribute band.

      • Eldritch Elitist

        I’ve gotta thank you for reminding me that it’s been way too long since I’ve listened to The Pogues. Thanks for the welcome, fellow rookie!

  • Bart the Repairman

    Big minus for fade-out. I hate fade-outs.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Strange choice for a promo track, considering it’s the only one with a fade-out.

  • Thurisaz

    Love the cover. Reminds me when I used to do astral projection. :)

  • I’m wondering if this can be really called technical death metal though.

    Suffocation were very technical for their time, but the bar has shifted quite dramatically in the past ten years such that “technical” evokes bands like Obscura, Beyond Creation or Dasein.