Believe – ‘World Is Round’ Album Review

Possibly the most flawless opening to any progressive rock record since Pink Floyd called it a day, the opening triptych to ‘World is round’ is simply perfect. The three tracks: ‘world is round (part 1)’, ‘no time inside’ and ‘world is round (part 2)’ form a beguiling whole that sees the band incorporate the pastoral prog  of early Genesis with the more metallic grind of tool to amazing effect. It’s one of the best openings to any album in a long time, with the beautifully melodic and exciting music flowing through the speakers, and it’s an excellent introduction to the world of Polish progressive rock band Believe who have been making ripples in Progressive circles since 2006.

Brief opening gambit ‘world is round (part 1)’ sets the scene with a simple vocal set to a gentle synth backdrop (from keyboardist Konrad Wantrych) before the guitar heavy ‘no time inside’ kicks off with a bass-led staccato grind that recalls Aenima-era Tool as well as elements of the aforementioned Floyd and highlights the skills of bassist Przemas Zawadzki. The juxtaposition between the two styles could not be more pronounced and it highlights the fact that Believe are a band who aren’t afraid to take risks and the results are often stunning. Better still is the way the song develops as it progresses with all manner of unusual instrumental flourishes allowing the band to switch between the ultra modern, ultra precise sheen of the verse to the more traditional sound of the chorus. The triad is completed with a reprise of the ‘world is round’ theme, with part 2 of that song drawing everything together nicely with a progression of the original melody to include drums and guitar as well as the early synth and vocal elements.

Having gained your complete attention, Believe have an easier task with the rest of the album but that does not mean they push their musical boundaries any less. Following on from the haunting ‘world is round (part 2)’ is the pulsing, crushing ‘cut me paste me’ which sees the band overlay a churning backdrop with vicious stabs of guitar and a chorus that recalls elements of the mid-nineties alternative scene. It’s something of a cross between Helmet, Tool and Pink Floyd and the reality is every bit as exciting as those comparisons make it sound. Following such a crushing moment, ‘lay down forever’ sees the tempo slow for a softer, although no less dynamic take on contemporary progressive rock. While all the musicians deserve credit for their remarkable talents, it must be noted at this point that singer Karol Wroblewski has the most remarkable voice – melodic but never thin, his every note conveys a power which is all the more vital when unleashed because it is used so sparingly. Moreover there is a beautiful clarity in Karol’s voice which renders every word of the intelligently written lyrics as clear as a bell – a talent that David Gilmour also enjoys. A lengthy, diverse track ‘lay down forever’ references many musical styles and elements, although it always sounds coherent, and when the guitars do arrive they are coupled with a soaring solo courtesy of the astonishing Mirek Gil that is fluid and graceful without being exhibitionist.

Drummer Vlodi Tafel and violinist Satomi get a moment to shine on the beautiful ‘so well’ which sees a tribal drum beat and a haunting, folk orientated Violin part gradually joined by guitar and piano for a sweeping, epic track that is gloriously majestic. ‘Bored’ sees the band pursue a heavier past with the vicious, stabbing guitars returning and, although you wouldn’t describe the track as ‘heavy’ per se, the band employ the sort of bulky sound that you occasionally wished Pink Floyd would go for (as they did on the scything riff for ‘the trial’ on The Wall) with the guitars given more presence in the mix than the other instruments which, while still respectfully treated, do not dominate the mix. As a rough guide, imagine the beauty of Opeth’s Damnation album coupled with a more expansive musical template and you’re in the right ballpark. Complex and jagged, ‘Guru’ surfs in on a syncopated drum beat that is guaranteed to cause headaches, while a distorted, nervous vocal pulses beneath the beat and heavy guitars and violin augment the mood creating a claustrophobic, nerve-laden verse to which the band add a taut, memorable chorus that is simply irresistible. It’s an album highlight and the perfect track to check out if you are unsure of Believe’s considerable merits. Following such a tumultuous track is the acoustic strum of ‘new hands’ which echoes ‘world is round’ musically and which paves the way for lengthy album closer ‘poor king of sun/return’.

With an eerie introduction which incorporates the Sitar (courtesy of Tomek Osiecki who also appears on ‘guru’) the final track is a complex, lengthy, beautiful masterpiece that closes the disc on a similar high to that with which it opened. Haunting, and utterly breathtaking it is the sort of track which defies easy description and demands the listeners attention, as indeed does the whole album, and as a reviewer I have to admit that to do this remarkable record proper justice would require far more space and time than I have available – as it is I can only recommend, in the strongest terms, that those with a taste for inventive progressive rock, metal with a heart and soul or classic rock hunt this remarkable release down immediately.

Poland has long had a fascination with progressive music. Anyone who has visited the country will know that it is a romantic, beautiful land filled with a people who are open, honest and often poetic. The country itself, with its wide open spaces and gorgeous scenery, bears the scars of centuries of toil, torment and strife and yet the land, like the people, inspires hope and art that is often without parallel in the Western parts of Europe. Music plays a huge part in the lives of the Polish, whether it be heavy metal, progressive rock, blues, classical or hip hop and the bands that have flourished there have, more often than not, done so under difficult conditions yet the bands that do succeed in Poland play and tour relentlessly honing their skills and developing their style to a fine point. As a result bands as varied as Hunter, Vader, Behemoth, SBB and Believe can be seen slowly spreading their influence beyond their home country and the successes that they gain are richly deserved. Here, Believe have crafted a modern progressive masterpiece that is exquisitely played and heart-rendingly beautiful. This is an astounding achievement and, if there is any justice at all, it will not only garner Believe the success that they so richly deserve, but it will also serve to highlight again the diverse and wonderful talents that exist in a country too often overlooked by music fans and critics alike. A flawless gem, Believe should be greatly proud of this stunning album.


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