There are certain things that will always warm a music reviewer’s cold, dead heart. Poland’s Gorycz, for example, made a good impression on me immediately, as I opened the promo to an actual lyric sheet. Granted, that wasn’t much help with reviewing their debut, Piach, as my knowledge of Polish goes only a little further than “kurwa,” but it’s the thought that counts. The band choosing to write in their mother tongue was, in fact, only another point in their favor for a multiculturalism-loving cuck like myself. But all of that is icing if the album is good, and pointless if it’s not. Let’s see how these black/doom-peddling Poles stack up.
From its opening notes, Piach is crystal-clear in its goals and in what arena it’s attempting to play in. Like many of their contemporaries, Gorycz slot into the niche carved out by the likes of Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, hewing closer to the latter than the former, with a thick slice of doomy groove à la Leviathan filling out the sound. Specifically, the strongest doom component is the meaty, fuzzed-out guitar and bass tones that call to mind Sleep or Kyuss rather than the icy sounds of traditional black metal. Additionally, there’s a strong emphasis in the songwriting on keeping the listener off-balance, with meandering, slightly off-time melodies and tempo shifts. However, the record is much more approachable than might be inferred from all of the above, aided by an extremely tight thirty-five-minute runtime. Exemplary tracks include “Czarna ciecz,” “Lament,” and “Strach na ludzi.”
Despite the admirable effort, and like many debut records, Piach is not without flaws. The aforementioned approachability is a double-edged sword, with much of the record coming across as too safe. Further, despite the short runtime there are only six tracks, and consequently several run a bit long or repeat a bit too much for their own good. The drum patterns in particular are a touch repetitive and often appear to repeat sections across different tracks.
Technically, the album is solid despite some obvious deficiencies. The production is hot, sweltering even, enhancing the oppressive weight of the guitar and bass tones, but it tends to blunt the impact of the drums. Similarly, while the mix is serviceable, with all instruments given ample space, the cymbals are buried, despite the skin impacts being a touch loud. Moving to the performances, the actually musicianship on display is quite good for a newbie band; they clearly have potential. In particular, vocalist Tomak Kukliński has extremely clear diction, and I have no doubt the lyrics would be clear as day if I knew the language. Unfortunately, this does rob his growls and shrieks of some of their power. This is not helped by them being overshadowed occasionally in the mix. The master is, per usual, kind of squashed but not egregiously so, and is in fact a bit better than most at DR7. The mix issues that plague the drums in particular would almost certainly have been eased by a more expansive master.
Overall, this is an album worth checking out if you like your black/doom thick and meaty. It’s hardly re-inventing the wheel, but exhibits enough potential to make Gorycz a group to keep an eye out for. As a debut, Piach having the issues it does is concerning, but I think this is an act with at least one better record in them.