Neolith IzilmKumu-Ki 01Neolith is a great name for a death/doom band. The word refers to a stone tool used in the latter period of the Stone Age, conjuring up the image of something being forged through weight, brute strength, and barbaric force. The Polish lads behind the Neolith moniker began in 1991 as a death/doom band, but have since changed their sound to reflect the shiny and polished aspects of stone instead; they’ve transitioned to, in an awesome phrase coined by one of our commenters, Nergal-core. As such, Neolith will be serving us a fairly traditional Polish dish they call Izi.Im.Kurnu-Ki, but not all pierogies are created equal.

About twenty seconds into Izi.Im.Kurnu-Ki’s first real song “Of the Angel and His Orison,” Neolith launch into some energetic riffing, drumming and vocals that immediately recall Evangelion, carrying on enjoyably yet predictably until the 3:15 mark where something funny happens on the way to the Throne ov Baphomet: the appearance of full-on synthesizers. Synths in metal aren’t new by any stretch of the imagination, but IO (credited for “electronics”) adds a weirdly enjoyable element to Neolith’s music that doesn’t feel forced and doesn’t often (if ever) appear in such prominence in modern blackened death metal. “Ire Thru Fire” is the best overall showing of the intertwined blackened death and techno-ish elements, with the final section standing out due to Beast’s relentless double kick layered over a pseudo-funk drum machine beat and some frantic synths, which sound better through headphones than they appear on paper.

Guitarists Bolus and Conrad and bassist Kriss doubtlessly know their way around their instruments, but their riffs never quite cross the threshold of greatness. They’re never bad and provide ample fodder for headbanging and fun, opting to mainly stay within the 2004-2009 Behemoth framework with nods to the tried-and-true tremolo of Malevolent Creation and Deicide. “Are We the Lost Ones?” breaks the mold with a solid and memorable modern melodeath lick, and the chugging mixed with club-styled synths that make up the refrain of “Chariots of the Gods” is a fun departure that really shouldn’t work but does. The riffs and songs are consistently good, but there’s no barnburners like “Slaves Shall Serve” or “Slaying the Prophets ov Isa” that really stand out, and throughout Izi.Im.Kurnu-Ki’s 38 minute runtime I felt satisfied with the quality of music coming through my speakers, but never blown away.

Neolith IzilmKumu-Ki 02

Neolith keeps up with the Polish equivalent of the Joneses in production, electing to master Izi.Im.Kurnu-Ki at Demigod levels of loudness. Guitars have a heavily processed distortion that sounds “metal” enough but lacks any grit whatsoever, giving the record a shiny plastic veneer that detracts somewhat from the intensity. Vocalist Levi takes a hit with the production too; while his great performance sounds throat-shredding the visceral impact of someone screaming their lungs out is lost when polished to these lengths. Beast’s drums take the most damage, with a highly compressed, nearly obnoxious snare and a kick drum that sounds like an angry typewriter when speeds are high – which is often. Beast’s performance is impressive, but ends up sounding slightly disingenuous due to the overprocessed hyper-modern sound of the kit.

Albums like Izi.Im.Kurnu-Ki are tough to review. Outside of the detrimental production and three wasted minutes on an intro and interlude, Neolith technically does everything right, and each actual song is full of good if predictable riffs. Each time I finished the album, I was content; I’d had my fill, and it was good. Izi.Im.Kurnu-Ki is fun to listen to, scratches the blackened death itch, and entertains with the added electronics, but it lands short of the “great” mark. If you want to freshen up your blackened death playlist or you’re fiending for another worthwhile addition to the genre, look no further; just don’t expect to be amazed.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Non Serviam Records
Websites: NeolithOfficial | Facebook.com/Neolith
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.02 | NA: 03.10.2015

Share →
  • Lasse Momme

    the record definitely seems to get better as you progress through the songs. I’m listening to Ire Thru Fire right now and it’s far better than the first couple of tracks. I generally agree with your assesment of the riff-work in that it doesn’t really pack quite the punch one would have hoped for, although there are definitely moments where it trends toward that territory, like on “Enlil” with that vomit inducing disonant legato based riff and onwards into the heavy groove riffing. There’s something there on most of the songs, they just never seem to fully capitalize on it, which is a shame. and there are those damn synth-parts….

    I just don’t like the use of synth to be honest. Most of the time it doesn’t do anything special for the songs and just seems to be kind of glued on to the track to be there, and they come off as distracting and unnecessary to me. As far as I can tell, and I admittedly haven’t listened through the whole thing yet, the record would’ve been better without them.

  • DrChocolate

    Is it bad that I read up to ‘Nergal-core’ and then stopped reading. Not because of any review or author weaknesses, but rather that’s all I need to see to know that I’m almost definitively not missing anything special with this record.

    I know I’m pigeonholing a little bit here, but it sure as hell seems like the once bright Polish metal scene has become the Buffalo Stamping Plant of the metal world. Same damn thing every time.

    • Lasse Momme

      the riffing is indeed very Behemoth-esque, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on preferences, but I agree that that sound has been done to death and it would admittedly be nice if the polish metal scene could stop beating the proverbial corpsepainted dead horse and stop sniffing Nergals boiled leather underpants.

      • To be fair, considering the size of the country and just how much public attention he gets, the man’s success must look larger than life itself to anyone vaguely interested in metal.

        Here in Mexico I don’t think there is any metal performer remotely similar in influence and recognition outside our borders, so it would be hard for bands to get so obsessed with a particular style but I can see it happening if the conditions were given.

        • DrChocolate

          I see that side of the argument, I do, but then Sweden, Norway, and Sweden come to mind. Poland’s population is roughly 5 times bigger than Sweden and 7 times bigger then the other two. The variety of extreme music coming out of those three (whose combined population is 6 times less then Mexico, have I killed that point yet?) is enormous. Yet even with luminaries like Ihsahn, Åkerfeldt, and Fenriz the copycats, while definitely there, are far less than what’s happening in Poland right now.

          • That is true, still, I don’t think any of the mentioned have dated actual popstars, or been judges in whatever local version of the x-factor they have around or been the commercial face of energy drinks. I think his actual popularity in Poland is at levels that I have a hard time finding a match in other countries, besides the truly big names such as Metallica or Maiden.

            And to be clear, I don’t think this is a good thing for the polish metal scene, but it is sorta easy to understand why this bandwagon started to roll down this particular hill.

          • Martin Knap

            to be fair: if you are talking about Hate – or which other band do you have in mind? – the bands developed parallel to each other and even shared band members. Northern countries have great social security systems, so people can hang around, take government handouts and play music all the time (singing about how they hate society and humanity) ;-) … but seriously: Northern countries are the richest in the world, artist get much more appreciated (5 grammys for Enslaved etc.) there and have much more support. When I think about how under appreciated some great musicians – who in Norway would have great careers – are in my country (Czech rep) it makes me sad.

  • Wilhelm

    Lifeless production, the drums sound just terrible.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Yeah, I have no idea why anyone thinks this kind of drum production is a good idea. Hellhammer is really the only one who can get away with it sometimes.

  • Krzystov

    Wow. I guees I’m in the minority here. I fucking love this album. Is it
    Behemoth-esque? Yes, but they seem to have refined that sound and I
    enjoy this album much more than any Pre-Satanist Behemoth album. But I do somewhat agree with Diabolous about the synthy parts. The synth complements the music at times and distracts at others. But hey, that’s what everyone said when the first Cynic album came out twenty-odd years ago too… As for the drum production, could some one give me an example of an album with a similar style where the drums are done “right?” I guess I have a hard time hearing what all the fuss is about.