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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: Hegemoon / Wartödd – W majestacie bluźnierstwa

Label: Fallen Temple

Date: June 12th, 2021

Who knows when I would think about Hegemoon again if it wasn’t for this latest Fallen Temple promo package, which included, among others, the brand new split release of this Polish band. I’ve gotten into them through their debut album. Back then we were basically label mates since Moon Records published “Tron zła” a couple of years before my own band got signed. Still, I got my hands on a copy of the tape and it was overwhelming. Black metal was thundering through the Polish underworld back then and, as far as I am concerned, Hegemoon was real high in the country’s hierarchy. Creatively speaking, of course.

I’ve gotten my hands on a couple more releases in the following years, including the follow-up to “Tron zła”, but the band sort-of slipped through my fingers for a long while. Still, I’m glad they’re active and super happy to have the new split release in my hands. What makes me even happier is that Hegemoon has stayed firm on their path, even if it means that their music remains somewhat stagnant in that mentioned creative sense.

The trio still performs black metal in the second wave manner, strongly influenced by the Scandinavian legacy. As they did a decade ago, their music is dominated by the lead guitar (think Emperor or Satyricon) which carries most of their creative bravado. They are not reinventing any wheels out here. But in that following of the unwritten rules they do manage to offer interesting passages and thus keep the momentum on their side. Basically, if you’re a black metal fan, there’s little to complain about. Hegemoon’s side of “W majestacie bluźnierstwa” is a classic monument to the 1990’s, only without pushing what’s been heard countless times before. Three songs, plus an introduction, of well crafted, neatly executed and Polish sung black metal.

Oh, and the production is quite good as well. To a point where you can clearly hear a fine bass line doing what it does best.

On the flipside (it’s actually a CD so there’s no flipside but I love the term) comes a new and previously unknown name for me. Wartödd is also a Polish trio, but they have emerged from Polish hell just last year. However, they’ve been quite active in the studio, presumably because there’s nothing better to do while the pandemic still wreaks havoc. Two demo takes, a full length album and this split release have already been published. Judging from previous experience with overactive bands, it is highly likely that Wartödd’s discography does not end there and a new outing is just around the corner.

Then again, this is not a one-man band. Unfortunately, this is also not as good of a band as their split mates. The genre is the same, there was never any doubt. The inspiration comes from the same peninsula, again a no brainer. But my fears about hyper productive bands came true once again. There’s simply not enough quality in these three tracks to make… Well, three interesting tracks. Though Wartödd makes an effort to mix things up a bit, with melancholic segments, cosmic ambient interludes and some lead guitars, it simply does not quite cut it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are ideas to be found here. And good ones, at that. But there are just too many fragments which just seem uninventive, or as if appearing to fill up the space. Minimalism has been played to infinity in black metal and there’s simply nothing new to be done here. It would seem like Wartödd just needed more time to develop these songs and make even these moments better. The way it turned out, it sounds as if they are just a rawer version of Hegemoon. Take your time guys. There’s no need for another Nunslaughter, Agathocles or Sabbat.

Anyway, the forever sidelined Polish black metal scene proves that it is often neglected without a good reason. Meanwhile, the underground flourishes and turns up with ever new records worthy of attention. This split is definitely one of them. All of its faults included. Get it if thy heart pumps black blood. Hell, go get yourself a handful, since Fallen Temple has a whole lot more to offer as well.