Basic blasts, hammer blasts, gravity blasts, heel-toe blasts, bomb blasts, swivelling foot bomb blasts. Extreme metal certainly has all bases covered when it comes to extreme technical drumming. It’s a race, people. Who can play the fastest? Who can hit those hollow boxes the hardest? Who can sweat the most? Speed isn’t everything. In fact, speed can be a hindrance. Black metal is mostly known for its speed and rage, but its greatest asset is it’s ability to formulate a sense of unease and evilness. For Kriegsmaschine evilness and unease are achieved not through blistering speed and ridiculous technical acrobatics, but by taking a step back and approaching things from a different angle. Apocalypticists is technical, it is detailed, it is overwhelming, but it presents its vision of evil and unease subtly and steadily. This is the eerie, stone-cold kind of killer, the sort to strut calmly onto the scene, expressionlessly smash your head against the wall and walk out again without breaking stride.
The drums are Kriegmaschine‘s staff of power. The drumming is mesmeric, a tightly woven pattern of technical grooves and tender touches that ensnares everything – the guitars, the vocals, the bass – in a web of percussive gluttony. It’s a feast for the ears, a deep resounding incessant feast with the drums firmly the center piece. Everything else is decorated to embellish it. The guitars are less pronounced, writhing, shimmering and sauntering in the shadows of the drums. The bass drum spasms and flutters like machine gun fire in opener “Residual Blight.” In “Apocalypticists” there’s a tribal flare to the snare sound that ruptures through the mix unexpectedly. Tonal shifts aplenty rear their heads mid-song, strange timbre fluctuations that send songs which sound, on a first impression, normal and generic into peculiar, unnerving territories.
Hypnotic rhythmic grooves drive the album. I’m good at tapping my fingers on a keyboard but I’m not drummer; you don’t need to be a drummer to notice that the drumming on this record is something else. Like a charmer mesmerizing a snake, “The Pallid Scourge” loops and coils. It’s a simmering mid-paced piece that subtly morphs. It begins to froth when the drumming becomes frantic and electronic reverberations invade from unknown angles. Apocalypticists is generally subtle and solemn. By possessing a somber and less frenzied pulse the record achieves a overall sense of labyrinthine unease; Apocalypticists really drills into the brain and hooks it’s gnarled peculiarities in deeply. Genuinely hypnotic, you can really hear ritual magic being uttered through the mix.
Upon finding out that Kriegsmaschine is Mgła with a different name everything made sense. M. and Darkside have a clear, unwavering vision of what they want their musical projects to achieve. This isn’t fast food metal with salty hooks and sugary-fat riffs. Apocalypticists demands patience. This is a 50-minute journey into the beating heart of Polish black metal – forever cryptic, forever expressive, forever non compliant. It’s not instantly gratifying or rewarding but the more time spent with it the richer the rewards.
Tracks to Check Out: “Residual Blight,” “The Pallid Scourge,” and “Apocalypticists”