WARBELL – 2019 – Plague (Review)


1. Dualmind – 02:55
2. Every Storm – 02:57
3. Plague – 03:14
4. The Fallen – 05:49
5. Wheel of Life – 03:55
6. Flames of Truth – 03:00
7. Deathronement – 02:57
8. Wolfpack – 03:31
9. Icaros – 03:34
10. Mercenary’s Fate – 03:11
11. The Passenger – 04:27

Year of release: 2019

Recently, somehow far better than writing reviews I do conducting and editing interviews. I even know why this is so. On the metal scene, especially the Polish one, simply nothing interesting has been going on for a long time. Of course, new bands grow up like mushrooms after the rain, but either they are completely bland seasonal creations, or ones whose desperate search for the golden mean can only born countless collections of recombined cacophonies, or eventually those whose members adopt the tactic of attracting attention with a shocking image, at the same time presenting creativity even more hopeless than the representatives of the previous two groups.

Many times on this site I reviewed records done by the bands, which I described as the proverbial „light in the tunnel”. They were usually pop rock bands or, in extreme cases, hard rock bands, impressing me with the ability to balance the proportions between hit tunes and guitar authenticity. Less than a year and a half ago, in my life, I would not have thought that I would be able to completely honestly present in a positive light some young native band performing extreme metal. Well, how can such young sound adepts of hellish roars impress you? Another inept attempts to keep an steady pace with blasts without using a click? Millions of times guitar players’ „who faster, who more dense” duels? Or maybe deadly to the diaphragm (if only the vocalists of all these „hordes” could use it properly) sinister… what? Grunts? Cries? I don’t even know what to call these sounds, anyway growling is definitely not. And suddenly, exactly in November 2017, I came through, and more precisely a few songs from it appeared in my suggestions on YouTube, the album „Havoc” of the Jelenia Góra-based formation callaed Warbell. I checked out their stuff and found it quite bearable. Raw and aggressive, but legible guitars. Bass playing its separate lines in many places, not just the raises. Drums may not be like Paul Mazurkiewicz’s or another Sandoval’s, but you can hear that the guy knows what he plays and carefully prepared the arrangements of his parts before recording them. However, my special attention was drawn to the vocals. It is true that most of the words, as in death metal, could not be understood immediately after the first hearing, and even after many next ones, with more attention directed at the lyrical layer it was not possible to understand the text without reading it line by line. Still, I thought, „This voice stands out. You can hear that during the recording the guy was focused equally on what to yell and on the appropriate articulation of those screams.”

The natural consequence was the desire to search for some live recordings in fairly decent quality to make sure that there are no studio tricks anywhere. After googling the phrase „Warbell live”, the first song on the list was the album’s title track from the Wałbrzych Metal Mine festival. I clicked and experienced an immediate shock. On the front of the stage, instead of a pale, bleak young man like Nathan Explosion, I saw a beautiful red-haired girl like an angel. I was already picking my jaw from the ground, but when she began to sing, with the same deadly growl as in the studio recordings, my eyes bulged in spite of myself, and my greasy hair stood on end. It is known that the female element has its strong representation in the metal underworld. What impressed me most about Karolina from Warbell was the thing that as long as I listened to her vocals without knowing that the vocals are performer by a girl, I would never think that. Even with Alissa White-Gluz or recently sought-after Tatiana Shmailyuk at first glance you can hear that we are dealing with a woman, not a man. A year later I went to the band’s concert at the first Pol’and’Rock Festival (of course, I mean the first edition of the Przystanek Woodstock under a new name) and absorbed band’s set like a theatrical performance. These days, the group’s second full-length album, „Plague”, is entering the market.

Unlike its predecessor, the new Warbell album does not start with an instrumental introduction introducing the atmosphere of the whole. There is not even a short, growing introduction here, typical for both death metal and its melodic variants, between which this band moves. Karolina and her mates immediately attack the listener with the first riffs of „Dualmind” which, along with the accompanying, great music video, promotes the whole. It is immediately obvious that the musicians do not intend to take prisoners. I can’t wait to see the upcoming concerts in autumn and shouting „Run! Run!” along with Karolina. In the second in order, „Every Storm”, I like those moments when the guitars pause, and redhead girl’s voice is left alone with the keyboard backdrop and thick noise of crashes somewhere in the distance. Then comes the title number full of tempo changes. Here, in addition to the keys, guitars also play a significant part in creating a background climate. This is best heard in the bridge after the first chorus, when in the right channel we hear the long, thundering notes of the passage of one guitar, while the other still rushes with the main riff. In the lyrical layer, the spoken parts of the song do the right work to maximally emphasize the overtones of the song, about the famous 14th-century pandemic plague, known in history as „black death”. It just so happens that this year is exactly the 666th anniversary of the cessation of this plague, which was commemorated appropriately in the album’s booklet.

I mentioned that at the beginning of the album there is no growing intro typical of melodic death metal heralding what will happen next. However, the group did not give up this exertions completely. Fourth track on the album, „The Fallen”, begins with just such an atmospheric introduction. And then it is only better. We have unexpected tempo changes and technical riffing again. In this song, the variety of vocal parts is surprising. In addition to growls and spokes, we also have a nice contrasting Karolina’s clear singing, whose presence makes me feel the disbelief described above again, that such low, authentic-sounding „masculine” growls can be emitted by a girl. In turn, in „Wheel of Life” I like the instrumental layer the most, and exactly the moment when the solo begins. At one point, all instruments play in unison in different octaves, which in combination with a properly matched double kick gives a real effect of a musical machine gun.

The three minutes long „Flames of Truth”, like „Dualmind”, immediately starts with an aggressive threshing, but unlike that song, it doesn’t slow down even for a moment. Blasts appear here, but in the right quantities and in the right places. In turn, in „Deathronement” we hear another, also unoverused standard when it comes to death metal drums, i.e. a double kick and ride tandem seasoned with punching successive bars on a snare drum. Most of the young drummers playing this type of music just wanted to play as fast as possible. In the playing of Warbell’s drummer, Rafał, you can hear that he is already fully (literally and figuratively) cracked with his instrument and knows how to arrange the barrels so that they do not give the listener a sore ear and think about the album ending as soon as possible. Bassist Bloody does not stand out with his artistry and gives his showcase at the beginning of „Wolfpack”, to deftly give way to the huge wall of guitars. „Icaros” is the best riff on the whole album, making great use of downpicking technique. This track also marks the return of the red-haired frontwoman’s pure singing. I associate „Mercenary’s Fate” explicitly (but not intrusively) with the work of Parkway Drive. The Warbell song can be safely put on the playlist between the best achievements of Australian formation such as „Idols and Anchors” or „Home Is for the Heartless”. „Plague” is crowned with a heavy roller „The Passenger”, at the beginning of which the group added a nicely blending part of the acoustic guitar.

The band did a great job on their second record. You don’t need to know the band’s exact history (although I just got interested in the subject and believe me, the path to this album wasn’t strewn with roses) to observe the natural evolution of its sound and guess yourself how much hard work was needed to make „Plague” so brilliant, how it is. What’s more, the booklet details exactly which parts are recorded by whom, and even more: the name of the former guitarist was written in the same font size as the current lineup’s personal details. Many great artists who parted in hostility, and even amicably, could not afford such a gesture of recognition of the efforts of a former collaborator. Warbell – I’m full of respect.


Patryk Pawelec

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