Mysterious Polish squad Saule blend atmosphere, black metal, doom on impressive debut album

Keeping a low profile is a rarity for a band. It pretty much is for a basic human as well, what with the age of social media exposing everyone’s lives. But keeping things under wraps and operating in the shadows is not an activity to be taken lightly, and it certainly can’t be an easy thing to do.

I say that because scouring the internet for more information on new Polish metal squad Saule is not super easy. There is information out there, but it’s pretty thin and doesn’t tell you a whole lot. The bio that accompanies their impressive self-titled debut record does hint that this is by design, as they would like their art to tell their tale, so this is what we have to go on. As I’ve said before about other bands trying this path, this approach actually is refreshing, and for someone who has a responsibility to find out as much as I can about bands before I start typing words about them, it is nice to just have to worry about the music and not much else. We do know that the band has been crafting the music found on these seven songs for a couple years now, finally landing on the proper lineup and approach to make these songs come to life. We don’t really know the lineup, we don’t have much on their intent, but this record, which blends post-rock, doom, black metal, and many other sounds into something that’s very much their own thing, stands on its own and away from many other contemporary bands.

Opener “I” has a clean, reflective start, with moody ambiance spreading its wings, and a voice calling from behind that wall. The music darkens and bleeds, with cries obscured, and the momentum building. Then the singing is more up front and gravelly as the song fades out. “II” has raspy singing and a foggy feel, stretching mysteries and ramping up the intensity. The playing is dark and inky before a hole is torn into the center of its body, and ferocious wails erupt. The earth shakes and rumbles hard, but then the pace gets watery and tranquil. That’s before a final push that has another huge burst before fading. “III” is the longest cut at 8:59 as noise quivers in the front end and quietly trickles before the song comes to life and begins to punish. The track is black and moody, sifting through occasional ruptures and the emotion splashing everywhere. Just as the mist gets thicker, the song hits its heaviest moments, getting sludgy, monstrously growly, and deeply penetrating.

“IV” is a quick instrumental that feels like an ambient dream, a tour through an infectious haze. “V” has a clean start as it bubbles like a stream before muddy power begins to level the place. The track is powerful and disruptive, with the guitars jangling and air rushing into the scene. Gazey fury saturates the ground, as the drums kick up and echo out. “VI” has a cool deathrock essence at the start, as whispers spiral through the mix, and the playing then begins to wrench. The most powerful singing on the record so far unleashes its power, while growls break up any sense of calm, and the music hovers overhead like an impenetrable fog. As the song rolls on, the pace splits back open again, savage growls draw blood, and the constant ebbs and flows rumble to the finish. Closer “0” spreads spacey noise and drone, as its fingers stretch out and pull the curtain back over and leads it into the darkness.

Saule’s first outing is an interesting one, a record that feels like it morphs with each listen. This self-titled debut is a piece that is hard to pin down, and it’s something that’s going to feel different to each listener. Heavy, riveting, and different, Saule prove that there are new ways to present sounds that are woven into metal’s DNA. You just have to know what the hell you’re doing.

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