Produced by Arkadiusz “Malta” Malczewski (Behemoth, Decapitated) and mastered by Kohlekeller Studios. Released on Time to Kill Records on Sunday 5 May 2023.
None Shall Prevail (2023) is Polish underground death metal band Shodan’s third full-length album and their first for Time to Kill Records. With their most mature, well-produced and direct record to date be prepared for 40 minutes of punishing progressive death metal.
Shodan formed in Wrocław, Poland in 2013 creating a unique hybrid of death metal brutality, progressive song structures and melodies deeply rooted in ‘cold wave’ aesthetics—that minimalist style characterized by its detached lyrical tone that emerged in Europe in the late 1970s.
The album “Tamed in unison” (track 1) opens the album with a harmonic squeal, a rumbling riff and in-your-face growling vocals that finds space from time to time in slower, picked harmony. It’s a powerful introduction that wouldn’t have felt out of place on a late Celtic Frost/early Triptykon album. The guitar solo around halfway through, takes the track to new places.
While “Despair snares” (track 2) opens with a fairly run-of-the-mill death metal riff it’s the progressive, twisted journey the band takes to tell this song’s story that lifts it beyond the ordinary before it burns itself out completely in a heartbeat.
“Demortality” (track 3) is clearly a made up word and the English-speaking world is all the better for it. This track wriggles free of most easy classifications as it twists and turns and morphs from one genre to another with an almost Eastern-influenced melody accompanying a blisteringly heavy chugging riff that runs itself through the heart of this track.
“Ethos” (track 4) opens with an extraordinary rattling rhythm and widdling guitar shred before settling down into a more familiar modern death metal riff that picks up pace halfway through, exploring a few new riffs and solos en route.
On “Staring back at the abyss” (track 5) Shodan dust down the wah-wah pedal for some sweeping tonal loveliness. The longest album on the album, it works hard to earn its progressive death metal stripes with a more laid back intermission in the second half of the song. I say ‘laid back’, it’s still brutally heavy death metal. It’s like sheltering beneath a guillotine during a nocturnal storm.
“Lords” (track 6) is where the pace really drops, however, with an atmospheric and breathy track that reminded me a little of the bass riff from Megadeth’s “Dawn Patrol” from Rust in Peace (1990). There are some clearly experimental metal elements to this song—mostly just after the song starts, all the way to the end. I love this kind of stuff.
“Nicość Wiekuista” (track 7) has a terrific riff and groove that takes no prisoners with its sense of urgency. Darn, it’s heavy and beautifully simple.
Something has clearly lit a fire beneath Shodan. “Nighttime violators” (track 8) tears itself from the starting blocks with a purpose. Watch that it doesn’t rip off your face on its way past. The song melts into a curious swamp of progressive experimentation before striding out the other, determined and urgent.
The title track “None shall prevail” (track 9) closes the album. To be honest, maybe it should trade places with “Nighttime violators”—can you imagine the impact that song would have had as the album closer? As it is, this song doesn’t hang about, but it doesn’t quite have the same impact as some of the other tracks on the album. Until you reach the solo … oh, my, word!
The Polish underground scene is clearly in a healthy state if it is producing gems like this album. I want to finish with something clever and snappy, but I’ve hardly slept this week and my brain has melted… and somewhat more after listening to this masterpiece over and again. This album is beautifully brutal, the production is just right and the songs duck and dive offering just the right amount of interest without overstaying their welcome. Some albums shorter than this feel too long, I could have listened to the same again. In fact, I’ve just hit play on track 1… here we go round again. Who shall prevail this time? None… none shall prevail.
Review score: 90%
Anubi Press contacted me inviting me to preview Shodan’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Anubi Press or Shodan. 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 Anubi Press, and to Shodan for continuing to create fresh, exciting and brutal music.