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Stillborn / Cultura de la Muerte, an engagingly brutal assault on the senses

Poland’s Death/Black Metal trio Stillborn are back with their sixth studio full length, Cultura de la Muerte, their third to be featured here on MetalTalk over the last ten years. Needless to say, they hold both a fascination for me and a place in my heart.

I am pleased to see they have also continued with their quirky tradition of having a Spanish title for this engagingly brutal assault on the senses.

Stillborn – Cultura de la Muerte (Godz Ov War Productions)

Release Date: 10 June 2022

Words: Jools Green

Cultura de la Muerte is an eight-track offering, spanning just twenty-eight minutes, but it’s densely filled, so more than enough to satiate the most brutal of Metal appetites. Beginning with Gniew Diabła, where the opening growls and riffs slam into you, putting you in sensory overload from the offset. But hold on tightly because the pace picks up in waves, and this becomes a real rollercoaster ride of a track, a brutally exciting start to the album.

Stillborn - Cultura de la Muerte
Stillborn – Cultura de la Muerte

Zwiastun Pogańskiego Odrodzenia has head spinning, spiralling riffs to open that I love. They repeat in bursts across the duration of the track, and when the drum work fully comes into play sound-wise, it develops into an offering of crushingly exciting proportions.

Then, predominantly even faster and more driving, is Triumfator-Pogromca. The musicianship stays on point throughout, the drum work is superbly maniacal too. When it does take a step back in pace mid-way, it’s not for long, so no momentum is lost.

Even more surprisingly, they still manage to bring the pace and intensity up another notch with Profanacja I Bluźnierstwo, again with a well-placed drop back midway, only to build into another assault on your senses. Brutality doesn’t get much better than this because, despite the full-on intensity, it still remains hugely listenable. Another one of Stillborn’s merits.

Odkupienie takes a different approach with its sultry dark opening build. Still, thirty seconds in and again, you are engulfed in an all-encompassing sound that also has an engaging but unrelenting ebb and build to the pace and a superb burst of drum battery to the close.

Wędrowiec has another dark, sinister opener filled with suspense and foreboding. One minute in ramping up to an all-out drum and riff sensory assault that still holds onto that dark aura as well as a very hypnotic quality from the subtle ebb and build. It plunges away in the second half before resuming on the previous trajectory. It’s brutally magnificent.

There’s no abatement in pace, I’m happy to say, for the penultimate offering, Stillborn – Siewcy Pogardy. In fact, it feels even more frantic and brutal than its predecessors. There is a superb militaristic aspect to the drum work at times, too, and the cavernous growls cut through, as they have on all the tracks, with menacing intent.

Finally, there is the thunderously fast Ostatni Prorok, which ebbs back, allowing for a few drum flourishes and some stomach-churningly low riffing, which I particularly enjoyed, before continuing on its driving journey, ending on a single poignant cymbal crash.

Cultura de la Muerte was written between 2020 and 2021, with all lyrics in Polish, penned by guitarist/vocalist Killer except for fragments of New Testament, along with elements of bassist Adam ‘Hunger’ Ronij’s and Fredrich Nietzsche’s creativity.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Darek Mlody at Panzerstudio with the cover artwork and layout design by Maciej Kamuda.

If you enjoyed the two previous studio offerings, Los Asesinos del Sur and Testimonio de Bautismo, as much as I did, then you are going to love Cultura de la Muerte.

It’s a charmingly brutal beast.

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