Polish Black Metal trio Sznur, whose name translates as Rope, return with their fourth studio release in just five years, Ludzina (People), a six-track, plus a hidden bonus track, release spanning a compact but well-filled thirty-nine minutes.
Sznur – Ludzina (Godz Ov War Productions)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Jools Green
Noticeably this time, there isn’t the usual rope design band logo incorporated into the artwork. Instead, the cover is dominated by a close-up image of skin, which, as grim as it looks, fits well with the title. I think it’s actually very Black Metal in concept, as well as unusual. Sznur are definitely stepping outside of perceived expectations here.
Sound-wise, it’s a strong offering. Raw Black Metal with a noticeably Norwegian feel to the sound, delivered in a straightforward manner.
The trio are concentrating on quality of content and delivery. The lyrics are all in Polish, and I believe they are pretty explicit and forthright, delivered in an acidic, snarling manner which adds to the rawness and brutality.
Opening on Kurwy, which begins with a quaint sound bite of a radio playing what might be traditional/folk Polish music, it rips into a wall of raw driving repeat riffs which ebbs back to a slower, more sinister pace to allow for the raw vocal delivery to emerge. It’s a straightforward piece but has good ebb and build and superb quality of delivery. It’s brutal and hugely engaging.
The first thing that catches your ear on Płyny is the attention-grabbing opening drum work fills, which weave around the driving riffs, and then settle back into a rhythm in keeping with the raw riffing. Another hugely engaging, raw, driving beast of a track.
A heady meld of undulating repeat driving riffs, interspersed with sharp bursts of riffing and waves of intense driving riffs alongside acidic vocals, make Dwóch a superb listen. The low-key backing vocals towards the close add an atmospheric element to what is possibly my favourite track.
An engaging meld of climbing and descending riffs and raw vocals make Pole a superb listen, also. When the pace intensifies and becomes complexly convoluted, it gets even better. A slab of understated brilliance.
Ul is haunting to open, but it rapidly builds to an intense wall of blackened riffs and acerbic vocals ebbing and building with menace across its duration.
The final track Stosunek is another intense driving beast of a track with acidic vocals carving through the riffs. It does develop a melodic undercurrent in the second half briefly but still maintains that raw feel, ending on another short soundbite of the music the album opened on.
And then there’s the hidden track, a cover of Defekt Muzgó’s Wojna (War) from their 1993 debut studio album N.U.D.A. (Don’t Pretend To Be Angel Devils). It’s an excellent interpretation. They’ve embellished that repeat punk riff that runs through the duration of the original with a blackened edge, so it’s still recognisable, just rawer, darker and more brutal.
Obviously, you also get a snarling vocal delivery with that, too, with added machinegun fire to open and close. If Tomasz “Siwy” Wojnar was still alive, I think he would approve. I think it’s an excellent interpretation.
Ludzina is a superb listen end to end and is available to pre-order/buy as a limited edition 12” LP 180g vinyl (50 x white vinyl and 100 x black vinyl) cassette and CD from here.