You know how they say you shouldn’t discuss religion and politics with family and friends? Whoever came up with that saying was a very smart person with very little understanding for how humans live to agitate one another. Not that it’s a bad thing. Having healthy debate or arguments over topics that can be controversial helps extend the conversation and sometimes changes minds.
Just hearing the band name Polemicist might make heads turn just at the very idea of what the word means. But again, I don’t think polemic ideals are a bad thing, and if you read any of my Twitter feed (no idea why you would) you’ll know I engage in the very activity from time to … OK, always. But we’re here to talk about the Philly black metal band of the same name, and just labeling them as merely black metal isn’t fair. There is so much more going on here with their debut “Zarathustrian Impressions.” If that title sounds familiar, it likely should as the record is a concept piece based on Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (specifically books II and III), a work created between 1883 and 1885 that is far too complex to dissect here. Just look it up. Anyway, the band—vocalist/guitarist Josiah Domico, guitarist Lydia Giordano, bassist Sam Zettell, drummer Jacob Nunn—turns in a stunning performance that might be black metal at its base but has so many other sounds worked in, that it’s difficult to really put a finger on. That just makes it more enthralling to hear.
“Zarathustra’s Theme” starts the record in a synth fog with orchestral winds, an intro piece that sets the stage for what’s ahead. “Concerning the Rabble” opens with blasts and surging vile growls, utterly destroying the ground. The pace kicks up as weird chants enter the fray, delirious guitars turn the room upside down, and imaginative playing stabs an exclamation point at the end. “Revenge of the Tarantulas” has guitars stymying, blasting power sending cinders flying, and creaky growls flattening its foes. The guitar work goes all over the place in a frenetic pace, while a strange transition settles, bringing eerie heat. From there, crushing blows are dealt, while the track crumbles to the ground. “Life Overcoming Itself” lets guitars crush, drums rumble, and dramatic black metal-style melodies reign. The power increases as things go on, as everything in wholly destroyed, blending into a gazey mire that ends in sizzling trauma.
“On Redemption” punches and lets the tempo rush you as the growls sicken bowels, and the playing ignites. The creaky singing helps push the plot while crazed cries, tornadic playing, and burning soloing take command and bring the song into the blades. “The Vision and the Riddle” tramples with intricate riffs and stern thrashing, while black metal blood is shed and drips all over the ground. The madness unfurls as classic metal melodies burst through the doors, the drumming leaves welts, and the track bleeds out in fire. “The Convalescence” doesn’t pull back on the intensity a bit as the band stomps guts, the growls scrape, and the guitars cause extreme vertigo. The music later has a dark carnival vibe as savage fires explode, and the track punishes to the end. “Return to Solitude” concludes the album by unleashing a thunderous attack, while the band liquifies your mind with their imaginative playing. The bulk of the track feels like a dark storm hanging overhead, saturating the earth and blasting its way past the ramparts to claim your soul forever.
Much like their name indicates, Polemicist present difficult material they translate through their hyper-intensive music, which makes “Zarathustrian Impressions” one of the most interesting black metal-style records to come out this year. I know that sounds hyperbolic, so my suggestion is spend time with this record and see for yourself. My visits have twisted my brains and left me with furrowed brow trying to put everything together.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/polemicistband/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.folkvangrrecords.com/products/647488-polemicist-zarathustrian-impressions
For more on the label, go here: http://www.folkvangrrecords.com/