Subtlety is often a virtue we praise on the blog when reviewing music. This is an attribute which people who listen to a copious amount of music might appreciate more than those who don’t; after a certain amount of albums played, you start to grow tired of all messages and influences written large for all to say. The ability to communicate mood, theme and melody in hidden and clever ways becomes one of the main things you look for in music, if not the main thing; an album can be well written and impressively executed but if it’s the same “simple” form of communication that you’ve heard a million times before, it’s going to be hard for it to grab you. When you hear that certain something, the complexity of expression and subtle approach to music, your ears perk up and you take instant notice.
That’s what happened to a lot of us when we first heard Jarun, a folk/black metal band from Poland. Their style juggles those sounds with a deft hand, leaving you constantly on the verge of pinning down what exactly it is that you’re listening to. This has a lot to do with how the track are built; Jarun are very careful to include different pieces of a track’s main thrust in every one of its sections. Thus, on the eponymous opening track, the quieter passages carry note progressions and chords found on the heavy parts before and after them. The vocals maintain a consistently aggressive approach, which does much to tie the whole thing together. The end result is a track made of many disparate parts but which shakes any effort to catalogue into simple denominations or passages.
Before you ask, yes, the vocals are in Polish and that actually does a lot for the music. The unique phonetics of the language work brilliantly with the harsher elements of the music, lending the heavy passages some resonance and amplifying the unsettling mood of the quieter ones. A good example of that is the excellent opening riffs of “Powidoki” (“after images”), where the guitars are momentarily subdued in each part in favor of prominent blastbeats and abrasive vocals. The timbre of the vocals works very well on top of the blastbeats, almost replacing the rhythm guitar which preceded it in filling up the aural space left by their absence. These kinds of clever “back and forth”s on the Sporysz do much to enhance that subtle feeling; everything is in conversation, creating one block of highly appealing music.
The last piece of the puzzle is the simply excellent composition work which went into this album. While it definitely draws from many established tropes of both genres it works in (like the tones for the acoustic guitars or the role which the drums play across it), Sporysz is also not afraid of taking some risks and departing from the black metal norm which it often channels. Again on “Powidoki” (probably the strongest track on the album), listen for the non-characteristic guitar leads right before the track starts gaining traction for the furious outro. These kind of irregular touches are what breathes life into the Sporysz’s formula, adding to the subtle cohesion which it embodies. Jarun have managed to make an intricate album where, regardless of how many of them there actually are, the seams between the parts are almost invisible. Considering just how much is going on during Sproysz, that’s no minor feat.
Sporysz was released on December 22nd, 2017 via Arachnophobia Records. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above to purchase it.