Varmia records all of their music in culturally significant remote locations throughout their native Poland. Released on Friday 6 January 2023.
Varmia was formed in 2016 by composer Lasota with a mission of fusing black metal with musical influences that pay tribute to the ancient Baltic tribes of the historical Warmia region of northern Poland. Prolog is Varmia’s first EP following three flul-length albums, Z mar twych / “From your dead” (2017), W ciele nie / “Not in the body” (2018) and Bal lada / “Any ball” (2021).
Vocally, harsh growls shroud the band’s music and native Polish lyrics in a visceral aura, the only breaks occurring when using the traditional, ancient technique of ‘whitevoice’ clean singing as used during ancient eastern-central European rituals, rites of passage and festivals. Varmia’s clear metal influences are enhanced by traditional ethnic Baltic instruments: tagelharpa, goat horn, wood tuba and krivula that creates a compelling mix of dark metallic sounds with grounded folk elements.
Opening track “Oddal” (track 1), which translates into English as “Distance” opens with a grand, orchestral soundscape before traversing through a more familiar black metal scream, pummelling drums and wall of guitars before settling into a stomping dirge resplendent with a chorus of deep voices,. There is something primal and earthy about this track.
“Gorzkie fale” (track 2), in English, “Bitter waves” starts with a pompous, tribal stomp that soons gets swallowed up by the chugging, rattling juggernaut of a black metal band firing on all cylinders. The blast of a goat horn certainly brings a whole other atmosphere to this track—this must be an amazing song to experience live… although, having played too much Minecraft with my children, every time I listen to this track, I imagine the recording studio being overun by pillagers blasting their horns. (Sorry!). This is a dark song with energy and at times a distinct Celtic Frost vibe.
EP closer, “3” (track 3) – which translates into Engish as ‘3’ – opens with a gradual pounding drum that builds into a galloping acoustic track. It reminds me very much of the spirit and energy of Sepultura’s tribal “Kaiowas” from Chaos AD (1993) as it pusates towards its explosive ending.
As a straight-up black metal album this may not have particularly interesting, but the addition of traditional Baltic instruments add depth and layers to the darkness of the music and the sharp Polish consonants. The EP closer “3” takes this release to a new level, certainly leaving me wanting more. I would love to hear an entire acoustic album of Varma songs. While this EP didn’t completely blow me away, there are more than enough elements to keep it interesting enough to want to return to it.
Review score: 75%
Grand Sounds PR contacted me inviting me to preview Varmia forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Grand Sounds PR or Varmia. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Grand Sounds PR, and to Varmia for continuing to create fresh, exciting metal.