A mainstay of the Polish blackened death metal scene since 1997, Stillborn offer up the churning sound of old school blackened death metal – tinny but powerful production, riffs that slice through the dense layers of noise and highlight a surprising virtuosity and vocals that are torn from the very earth and filtered through gravel – and they achieve their intention of killing “everything that’s impossible to fuck…!” surprisingly well.
‘Los Asesinos del sur’ is an album full of unholy rage. Killer, who provides guitars and vocals, imbues the scream of “fuck off and die!” on ‘Blood and dust’ with such utter hatred that you can only conclude that he means it while August’s percussion is nothing short of miraculous, as he handles time changes and ambitious fills with consummate ease. A short album, ‘Los Asesinos…’ relies on shock tactics – bundling in, administering the death blow and getting out before you’ve had a chance to realise precisely what is happening, hence the introduction (‘overture .966’) lasts little more than a minute before the crushing ‘hymn of destruction’ comes snarling out of the gate on the back of a fuming death metal riff that sets the band’s stall between the technical death metal of Behemoth and the blackened might of Dark Throne. The result are a series of tracks that come thick and fast as body blows, each one contributing considerable damage and stealing breath away with their speed and singularity of purpose. ‘Diamonds of the last water’ is equally brutal – a lightning fast run through the dark side which shows just how far beyond the confines of thrash metal it is possible to go if the will is only present. Killer’s vocals, meanwhile, are as abrasive as a sandpaper bath and a perfect fit for the music. ‘Antonym’ is no less devilish – a toxic brew of clattering percussion, atonal guitar and raw-throated vocals, it’s hard to imagine fans of the genre feeling disappointed with this startlingly brutal release.
Up next is the brilliantly titled ‘son of the holy motherfucker’ which conjures up the sulphuric atmosphere of ‘reign in blood’ and which clocks in at under three minutes, although the stunning speed and brutality with which its played will convince you it’s much longer. Rather more epic is the feral ‘blood and dust’ which highlights the skill behind the bombast and which is certainly the finest track on this particular album. ‘Kot Wolanda’ is a far more intimidating affair, weighing in at under two minutes and proving to be as unrelenting and vicious as a knife fight outside a pub, it is fast, brutal and hard to follow. The title track, by contrast, is a six minute marathon into the depths of pain – harrowing and atmospheric it doesn’t even start for forty seconds and when it does kick off, it’s with a heavy doom –laden riff that is as ominous as it is heavy. Another highlight is the devilishly fast ‘Stillborn II’ which sees both Killer and Rzulty attacking their guitars with inhuman speed and precision whilst August and Ataman Tolovy (bass/backing vocals) provide a solid rhythmic backing. Final track ‘whore of whores’ completes the disc with a dark and disturbing edge that recalls the brutal sadomasochism of Deicide. It’s a fine ending to a CD which maintains its quality over its 31 minute run-time and which rarely dips in skill or ambition.
Gloriously uncommercial, this is Polish blackened death metal at its finest – unfettered, untamed and utterly brutal. There is a fire in the hearts of Stillborn that can only be quenched by unleashing these huge tidal waves of sound and for those who like their death metal raw, excessively brutal yet played by exceptional musicians then you need look no further than the might of Stillborn. A dark, disturbing and hugely enjoyable trip onto the paths of purgatory – Los Asesinos Del Sur is a great album. Head to http://www.stillborn.pl to find out more.