Although this is Furia’s fifth full-length release, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to listen to this excellent band. Hailing from the industrial city of Katowice (home to the infamous Spodek, a vast concrete flying saucer that plays host to many a concert including the renowned Metal Mania), Furia deal in an epic form of black metal infused with folk (“necrofolk”) that manages to capture both the minimalist, brutality of the industrialized Silesian heartland and the vast rural landscapes that surround it. Released via Pagan records, ‘Ksiezyc milczy luty’ (roughly translated as ‘Moon silent severe’) is a six-track masterpiece that embodies the depth, passion and innovation that lies within the Polish metal scene.
Opening with the mid-tempo percussion and avant-garde riffing of ‘Za cma w dym’, Furia evoke an image of desolate landscapes scarred with the savage fury of the Polish winter, utilizing atmospheric elements that have more in common with the Bad Seeds than Behemoth. The song slowly builds to incorporate more traditional black metal riffing, but even here it is necessary to expect the unexpected and the track roams roughshod through a variety of influences. Sung in the band’s native tongue, the music benefits from the poetry of the Polish language, which is awash with romanticism and worn by the violence of Poland’s storied past, and in doing so the band further cement the music’s ties with the barren, yet beautiful landscape of their mother country. ‘Cialo’ similarly operates in avant-garde territory, its Spartan arrangement evoking the dark secrets of a David Lynch fantasy. When the music does take a turn for the violent, it is almost a relief following a build-up that contains an almost unbearable level of tension. With an eight-minute run time and echoing guitar guiding the listener in, ‘Tam jest tu’ mixes elements of jazz, progressive and Sonic Youth’s frazzled art rock to create a memorable piece of music that defies categorization and which occasionally explodes into fits of unspeakable violence. Far more effective than simply following the black-metal-by-numbers format that so many bands follow in the erroneous belief they are carving out an original niche for themselves, Furia actually explore the unknown, crafting their music with such dazzling bursts of innovation that it’s impossible not to be entirely captivated.
‘Grzej’, another eight minute epic, opens amidst a maelstrom of churning guitars and dissonant noise. Throbbing bass lurks at its heart, but little that can be defined as structure emerges until almost a minute into the track, at which point the band emerge screaming from the darkness, backlit by the flames of a thousand industrial furnaces. In contrast, ‘Zaberaj lapska’, with its jazzy shuffle, once again slithers into Nick Cave territory with its dusty baritone vocal and nimble guitar weaving around a throbbing bass line that promises yet darker things to come. The album concludes with the crushing riffs of ‘Zwykle czary wieja’. A dark, claustrophobic piece of music, it operates in a similar field to the reformed Amebix’s ‘sonic mass’, and provides a dense, hypnotic close to the album.
In a year that has seen numerous landmark releases, it was hard to imagine at this late stage in the game that we’d be presented with a strong contender for album of the year, and yet ‘Ksiezyc milczy luty’ is just such a record. Rooted in the true black metal spirit of exploration and freedom, Furia ignore any spurious notions of rules and follow their muse instead. The decision to sing in Polish is a masterstroke, further connecting the music to the spirit of the band’s native country, and the album captures perfectly the scarred beauty of Silesia with its brutalist architecture on one side and the barren, open beauty of rural Poland on the other. Forget any other extreme release you may have heard this year – ‘Ksiezyc milczy luty’ is a grand masterpiece and it stands peerless. 10