Polish Black Metal one-man project Absque Cor is back with Na Zawsze Cieniem…. the follow-up album to his debut release Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć in 2017. The project is masterminded by Apatheia singer and guitarist Vos. So, naturally, there are some similarities to the sound. But if you like Apatheia and are not yet familiar with Absque Cor, this should have a lot of appeal for you. It’s delivered to the same meticulously high standard as the Apatheia release as well as the debut Absque Cor offering.
Absque Cor – Na Zawsze Cieniem… (Godz Ov War Productions)
Release Date: 24 November 2023
Words: Jools Green
Sound-wise, I think Na Zawsze Cieniem… comes across as a little rawer. But it still maintains the hugely atmospheric feel of its predecessor. Where it does surpass the previous offering is in duration. This time, you get six tracks that span a hefty fifty-eight-minutes.
Vos clearly loves to write long tracks, both here and on the other two mentioned releases. But this time, there’s nothing he has written under the seven-minute mark (the album also contains a cover of a mere six-and-a-half-minute duration) and one that exceeds fourteen minutes.
Opening on Zapaść, which has a sublimely ambient intro, it builds into a wave of riffing and drum work that develops in intensity as it progresses. Complemented by acidic and distant vocals, it’s a superbly hypnotic driving piece that drops back into an ambient mood again at the three-minute mark. It dramatically ebbs and builds between these extremes, reaching its zenith with a tortuous scream, after which the vocals take on an even more tortuous urgency. It’s a powerful and dramatic track.
Jeden Raz Za Dużo has a superbly industrialised, echoey edge to the distorted guitar sound and pounding drum beats as it opens. But a blackened edge develops with the riffs becoming very raw with the arrival of the vocals. Again, you get a sudden drop into the ambient and reflective, building back into a sound that is superbly complex and convoluted with an engaging ebb and build. A brutal yet emotive piece.
Pounding drum rhythms and repeat bass lines open Nawet Nie Próbuj, building in intensity, complexity and rawness as they progress. With vocals, as before, set to the back drawing you in, again, you get the sudden drop to a reflective, bleak but clean mood. The sound doesn’t build with the same speed and intensity as the predecessors, although it does get there towards the close. I love the melodic undercurrent that emerges through the raw riffs and vocals of the second half.
Raw and complex from the offset and awash with jangling riffs and pounding drum rhythms Dziękuję, żE Jesteś is a joyous assault of the senses. It doesn’t have the severe drops and quiet segments of its predecessors. Instead, it has dramatic brief pauses, the sound thinning out slightly towards the close. A dark, harsh and intense piece that also has a curiously experimental feel. An enjoyable listen.
Penultimate piece, the fourteen-minute Piosenka o Niczym, bursts into being at an instantly intense pace. The title ironically translates as A Song About Nothing. It’s ironic because there is actually a hell of a lot going on musically in this piece, particularly in the first half. Although the lyrics, which are in Polish, may well tell a different story unknown to me.
It breaks out into a wall driving riffs, with acidic vocals searing through alongside unrelenting drum rhythms. It does ebb, meander and shift direction but loses very little momentum. Again, you get brief pauses rather than drops, just enough to facilitate that shift in direction. That is until you get midway through when it suddenly becomes light, eerie and reflective, building back up with jangling riffs and pounding drums, maintaining that dark, eerie feel. The song reaches an intense zenith towards the close, then gradually drops away.
The final track is a cover of the Suicidal Dark Ambient duo Der Golem’s Солнце Мертвых (Sun Of The Dead), who were one of Russia’s biggest cult acts. Mostly unknown beyond the most committed fans of underground music, they were an experimental band formed in 1999 by Roman Sidorov (Старуха Мха, Sedativ, Fatal) and Dmitry Zubov (Hypnoz, Zuboff Sex Shop) both of whom are now, sadly, deceased.
They released two albums, Zmet in 1999 and Дисциплина взорванных мостов in 2000 and sound-wise created an unusual mix of industrial, post-punk, post-rock and drone ambient.
I love how Vos has thoughtfully and considerately reimagined this enigmatic piece, staying largely true to the original but adding a defined Black Metal edge. This comes to the fore around midway, when intense raw riffs, blackened screams and acidic vocals add drama and intensity to the piece.
Na Zawsze Cieniem… is a superb album, well varied, well composed and delivered. Every track brings unpredictable surprises. It will be available in CD, cassette and digital format.