Wednesday, August 23, 2017

review: Thy Worshiper

[review by MMB]
Thy Worshiper
Popiół (Introibo ad Altare Dei)
release date: 1996 [original]
label: Arachnophobia Records [for this reissue]
The Ireland-based long-running band Thy Worshiper nowadays has a very respectable body of work that spans decades of music with lyrics in Polish. Originally, Thy Worshiper began in Poland and the lyrics are in their majority done in Polish to this day. On Metal Archives it seems like the lyrics of the first demo (1994) were in English, but afterwards everything else has been in the Polish language, apparently. They have a reputation for a rather unique sound and a particular standing amongst certain cultivated sections of the audiences that support avantgarde metal music.
Certainly, the diehard supporters of the band must already know everything about this 1996 album and its place in establishing the band's sound of atmospheric and ethereal extreme metal. Thy Worshiper does have the prototypical extreme vocals associated with black metal and they have abundant tremolo in the songs. Nevertheless, the constant use of pleasant and smooth guitar melodies sweetens the overall experience for the listeners. In addition, they utilize other components, such as the angelic chanting from a guest on some songs, and flute, and keyboards, for purposes of atmosphere and ambience. The results are beautiful and elegant extreme metal. It's accurate that the extreme vocals are definitely black metal and that may drive away some people and there are also moments of intensity and headbanging, but the general feeling, despite the extremity contained within, is a gentle caress of contemplation. This album is partly a physical listening experience, but it's meant to be very spiritual, too.
Given that we are talking about a certain feeling from the 1990s, perhaps it would help to note that this album would fit in well amongst other moments in the 1990s like Paradise Lost's Gothic and Draconian Times; Tiamat's Clouds and Wildhoney; Dark Tranquillity's Projector; and others like My Dying Bride's debut EP, Opeth's first two albums, and the general feeling of early gothic metal, for instance. In short, music that is metal, but are also works in which the musicians are very invested in the idea of making beauty a part of the sound.
Here in the U.S. I have not seen this name mentioned by writers about 1990s extreme metal from Poland. This album does not have a review on Metal Archives, actually. Isn’t that unbelievable? You would think that it would have been reviewed a long time ago already. Maybe the Polish-language speakers do not care to share their secret pleasures with outsiders (“If you don’t speak Polish, too bad,” eh?). Maybe the album is mostly known by the Polish devotees and they like to keep it cult and exclusive? Has the issue of the language been such a problem? Maybe, I guess. I don't know.
The album is done very well and it is a good balance in the act of making metal a beautiful form of music, without sounding contrived and commercialized (Polish is probably not a good choice of language if you want to make the big bucks in the world of international metal music, right?). It's possible that, given that the album is so old, some people who would otherwise be interested and supportive of this music might think that it is not worth the time to investigate a work from decades ago. If it's so good then why have you never heard of it? All these doubts are understandable, of course. The problem, however, is that it is also entirely possible that the skeptics would be wrong.
The skeptics are wrong.

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