Witching Hour Productions, 2013
Genre: Death Metal
1. The Prelude to Annihilation
2. Renewal through Collapse
3. The Nightmare of Your God
4. After Death
6. Veil of Obliteration
7. Spiral of Extinction
8. The Edge of Depravity
9. Awakening of Masses
Chudy's back! I was really sad to see him not involved in the last two Trauma releases, but I think that lack has only made this album all the more crushing. I really do think Chudy is the right vocalist to complement Trauma's sound. Kopec did a great job for what he was doing, but I still think Chudy is the vocalist that was meant to mesh with Trauma's sound.
As bands get older and the members mature I think they trend towards trying to write a little more thoughtful music. Music that means more to them than just cool songwriting. At least that's how I feel when I look back through Trauma's discography. Trauma have, throughout their career, always maintained a strict discipline of quality songwriting and "Karma Obscura" is no exception. I do think that what they started writing on "DetermiNation" has resulted in the culmination of their sound and they've been staying in this direction for quite some time. As with "Archetype of Chaos" this album trends more to the groove and more atmospheric elements that have been growing in Trauma's age. Some fans may be disappointed at the lack of pummeling sections these days, but I do like the devastating and punishing rhythms Trauma manage to drive home to the listener. The major difference with "Karma Obscura" is they've thrown in some more of the Melodic Death Metal riffs amongst their usual crushing Death Metal. Trauma basically have this kind of songwriting down to a science and I enjoy their modern form as much as their old, I know not everyone will feel this way.
I usually don't mention lyrics and since I've been playing catch-up with their discography I'm going to take the time to put this out there now. One thing I have always appreciated about Trauma, and to a larger extent a lot of the Polish Death Metal I follow... the lyrics aren't total shit. Behind the broken English is some creative song writing. Certainly the writing has gotten better on the newer Trauma, but with age you gain different appreciation for things and sometimes a different perspective. I like that Death Metal, for this region especially, doesn't mean solely writing about violence/gore or about how awesome Satan is. Those lyrical topics get so tiresome in the genres, so I like seeing people spending time thinking about other things in life. Trauma's anti-religious stance comes across as far more well thought out criticism than just swearing at Christians.
If you liked "Archetype of Chaos" you will love "Karma Obscura". I love hearing Chudy's vocal treatment behind Trauma and he gives a very dynamic voice to Trauma's sound. He hasn't lost his edge at all in the past few years and I would say he has even gained a bit more strength. I would definitely recommend this to fans of modern Death Metal fans. If you want Death Metal that blasts through songs then modern Trauma is certainly not for you and you should skip this.
Witching Hour Productions, 2010
Genre: Death Metal
1. Intro (White Architect)
2. Cortex Deformation
3. A Dying World
4. War Machine
5. The Slime
6. The Truth Murder
7. Tabula Rasa
8. Portrait of the Lies
9. Destruction of the Demented World
After the demise of Empire Records, I imagine Trauma was left looking for a label and it seems out of the ashes Witching Hour Productions has stepped up to become the new staple of Polish Death Metal. Trauma couldn't have picked a better label, in my opinion anyway. Their dedication to the artistic end of things is highly appreciated by buyers like me and many others. However, I feel like this leaves Trauma in a similar situation they were in before in the sense that little recognition beyond Europe will happen for them. Witching Hour releases really don't end up in my country that often and I really don't think the label is on anyone's radar. This is a huge loss to the metal world given the record labels roster and attention to quality.
Maybe the obscurity is worth it, because I hold in my hands a beautiful digi-pack release for "Archetype of Chaos". It comes in a four panel digi-pak along with a full booklet. The cover is clearly eye catching and the rest of the graphic design is more than worth getting! Truly a beautiful product.
Like "Neurotic Mass" this album opens with an incredibly haunting intro. I actually wish this was a lot longer and built into "Cortex Deformation" even more than it currently is, but the intro alone was enough to set my senses alert for changes to the Trauma sound. It's been a while for them and they're only returning to the studio as a three piece this time with Mister handling all the guitar work by himself. It was nice to hear the bass get in some licks in songs like "The Slime", but it is still woefully under-represented since the days of "Suffocated in Slumber". That sort of Middle-Eastern flare shows up in "The Truth Murder", but I feel like they just use that kind of stuff to set a tone for the intro before the song swiftly changes into something else. For the most part Trauma sticks with catering to the groovier side of Death Metal, but part of me misses some of the intense syncopation they messed around with in the past.
"Archetype of Chaos" is pretty much a finer re-working of "Neurotic Mass". I don't feel like they've necessarily released the same album, but it's pretty similar. The only difference is that I would choose "Archetype of Chaos" over "Neurotic Mass", because the overall listen is more cohesive. There is nothing on "Archetype of Chaos" that is as hard hitting as "Greed" though, so "Neurotic Mass" definitely has that advantage. They've sort of dropped off a lot of the more fast and hard hitting material to favor the groovier side of things. This isn't that bad of a thing, in my opinion, it makes the album a little less varied in favor of developing a cohesive song structure. So it's a lot easier for the listener to get immersed in the overall album, rather than taking it one song at a time. At any rate, I found it quite enjoyable and I would recommend the newer material as well.
Empire Records, 2007
Genre: Death Metal
1. Intro Monument
3. Altar of Vanity
4. The Eternal Quest
5. Unexpected Lie
6. Neurotic Mass
8. Edge of Vegetation
9. Dead macrocosm
Here we have the new Trauma and we have, yet again, more line-up changes in the vocal department. I don't know why Chudy wasn't able to do vocals on this, but I imagine he gave permission to use his lyrics. It makes me wonder if this is sort of a last minute change, because the new vocalist, Kopec, didn't write anything on this album. Most of the lyrics are actually by Chudy, but Kopec from Perverse, is performing all the vocals. To be honest he's not a bad replacement and he's clearly an experienced vocalist in the field of Death Metal.
"Neurotic Mass" starts off with something we've never heard from Trauma, an intro that is heavily laden with powerful classical elements. In fact these elements sort of show up throughout the album, though they are quite subtle in some areas. Others are quite apparent like the intro to "Immolated". I think this is clearly influenced by Vader's "Impressions in Blood" and I think "Neurotic Mass" winds up being one of the most Vader influenced albums in Trauma's discography. Granted the music is basically a combination of "DetermiNation" and "Imperfect Like a God", because we experience a lot of those atmospheric rhythms from "DetermiNation", but we also hear some of those heavy syncopated riffs from "Imperfect Like a God". At the same time the vocals have these spoken word styled sections that are just so taken from the book of Vader that the influence is obvious. As usual Trauma do things incredibly well and starting off by launching into the immense song "Greed" is very memorable. One thing I do like about Trauma, is that despite the heavy Vader influence, Trauma still manages to come across as their own band.
I think I am safe in saying that this is probably one of the most diverse sounding albums Trauma have put out. They can easily pummel us into submission with "Greed", but they also have a serious degree of rhythmic atmosphere in the title track. There are even subtle hints of the keyboard in there with some strange electronic sounds. Then "Edge of Vegetation", while heavy and brutal, has touches of some of the lighter more Melodic Death Metal elements we saw Trauma play with on "Craving". Then things change up quite a bit more with "Dead Macrocosm" with a sort of a Middle Eastern flair to the opening riffs. Perhaps influence from Nile has worked it's way into their rotation? It is not long before the song switches into that heavy rhythmic Death Metal in the usual Polish style.
As usual everything is written and performed at the highest quality of an experienced Death Metal band. While you certainly can't go wrong in getting this album, I personally think "DetermiNation" may have been a little bit better. Not by a huge margin, mind you. "DetermiNation" felt more consistently cohesive and "Neurotic Mass" feels a lot more varied, so I guess it depends on the listener. If you want to hear fairly varied and well executed Death Metal, you may find more merit with "Neurotic Mass".
Empire Records, 2006
Genre: Death Metal
2. Decayed by False
3. Demanufacture (Fear Factory Cover)
4. Stripped, Raped and Strangled (Cannibal Corpse Cover)
5. Davidian (Machine Head Cover)
After only a year Trauma were back in the studio recording a small EP with a two new tracks and a few cover songs. I think this EP has actually become quite scarce in recent years due to the fact that Empire Records is no longer around. If it makes anyone feel any better, I'm not sure I would consider this essential for the Trauma discography compared to their full lengths. Still, it is certainly worth having in the collection if you're a true Trauma maniac like myself.
Listening to the two original songs makes me wonder when the tracks were written. "Craving" sounds like a throw-back to the days of "Comedy is Over" with the Melodic Death Metal touches. I feel like it's sort of blended with the writing of "Suffocated in Slumber", so I can see why it wouldn't have really fit on any of the current albums if it is an older song. I get the impression that "Decayed by False" sort runs the same problems, but sounds much more akin to their modern material. Still, I don't see how this would fit on any of their albums, so if these are lost songs recorded for the fun of it, this EP is a perfect place to put them. I don't think either of the songs stands out as strong as the material on prior full lengths, so in that regard this EP doesn't deliver as much as one would hope. The real interesting factor to this release are the cover songs! I feel like Trauma is sort of breaking with Metal tradition a little bit with some of the covers of more popular American metal acts, but they do a pretty good rendition of the material. First they covered my favorite Fear Factory song "Demanufacture" and they did a pretty good job with this. For some reason I feel like the guitar tone was thinned out a little bit, this is probably in attempt to get it closer to the Fear Factory tone, but I really wish they used the really thick tone of "DetermiNation". I think that would have given it a much more interesting and Death-ier feel, which is a recasting I would have appreciated. Another part that is sort of fun is that it's like listening to Fear Factory with a Polish accent! Next they covered my favorite Cannibal Corpse song and, wow, they really did a stellar job on this. This is the best cover on the EP by far. They kept that excellent and thick tone we'd expect from Trauma, so it sounded even heavier than the original. Next they covered a Machine Head song and I'll confess I was never too into this band. They didn't do a Death Metal version of the song, instead they had another vocalist handle this song to do more of a "clean" sound. I, personally, would have much rather heard the Death Metal rendition of this song, so this was something I wasn't super into.
In the end the EP brings to light some of Trauma's more diverse influences. You can really see the Fear Factory interest with their interest in syncopated rhythms. Naturally I think Trauma takes the influence and casts in a far more interesting way and with a far more devastating application. While I do enjoy Fear Factory, I will not lie that I enjoy what Trauma has done quite a bit more. One of the other features on this EP is that it includes a music video recorded for "Elegy for Doom" from the album "DetermiNation". This certainly makes this an interesting release to have. Check this out if you're a collector, but, again, it is not essential if you just want all the quality Trauma material available.
Empire Records, 2005
Genre: Death Metal
1. The Elegy for Doom
2. The Solitude Remains
3. Wings of Frustration
4. An Act of Providence
5. The Loneliest
6. As Never Before
7. Frozen God
I always think it is very curious when two different bands essentially release very similarly styled albums in the same year. As if the culmination of their sound resulted in some logical progression to this new form. The two albums I'm comparing are Trauma's "DetermiNation" and Hate's "Anaclasis". Both of these album's are monster outputs for the each project and I absolutely consider them must have for any Polish Death Metal maniac! Each output is slightly different, but I can't help but marvel at the similarities that are suddenly appearing. I would even dare say that both projects were evolving what Trauma and other Polish acts were doing on their prior albums, because it was an entirely shocking direction for Hate to some degree, whereas Trauma was already performing something in that vein.
"DetermiNation" changes up the format from "Imperfect Like a God" ever so slightly. There is a lot less toying with syncopation on this album, but what they've started infusing into their sound is some more atmospheric feeling riffs. Just listen to the title track to see what I mean. In some respects I feel like what Trauma have developed would influence what Hate does more of in the future, because I feel like they adopted this more than the direction Trauma went in. This is actually really great, mind you, because, while I love what Trauma have put out here, I like that Trauma continue to evolve their sound while another band takes up the mantle of what was written here!
A lot of what Trauma is doing on this album is infusing some elements from Morbid Angel (mostly "Domination" era) into their sound. The reason I feel this sounds a bit more unique, because they're blending it with that patented Polish sound and atmosphere only the Poles seem to know how to add to their Death Metal. Once again we get another album with expertly written Death Metal songs, and while I miss the interesting syncopation, I do think this album manages to outdo "Imperfect Like a God". Chudy's vocal work is certainly much more inventive and dynamic throughout the album. This only adds to the interesting listen and the drum work is always superbly done. I really like that Maly doesn't feel the need to blast and play as fast as possible throughout and album and instead thinks up ways to vary up the drums to make it a far more interesting listen. This only enhances the guitar performance.
Trauma have certainly hit their stride in writing music. I really can't wait to hear what devastating masterpiece they have in store for us next! One thing I love about Trauma so far is that every album has sounded different and quite distinct. The influences can be very apparent, but the arrangements and infusion of different styles gives each album a distinct sound. Trauma's discography, so far, is like a "best of" Death Metal history in the making!
Empire Records, 2003
Genre: Death Metal
1. Blade Under Your Throat
2. The Hidden Seed
3. The Madness Here
4. Beyond the Perception
5. Imperfect Like a God
6. Make Me Blind
7. Spiritual Disorder
8. Perplexity of Truths
9. Outrage to Fools
After four years of waiting we finally see Trauma return with a new full length. Once they put out "Suffocated to Slumber" I thought the band might pick up more steam and really start getting material out there. Granted I'm more than happy to wait for quality material, because that's always preferred to mediocre quantity. I'm happy to report that "Imperfect like a God" is absolutely worth the wait, but it comes with some bad news. Piotr has left his place as a vocalist, just when his vocals were getting immense, but I'm happy to say they found a suitable replacement in Chudy.
I love the title of "Imperfect Like a God" and unlike it's namesake this album is nearly the incarnation of Death Metal perfection. Trauma have taken "Suffocated in Slumber" to the next level. They've really started to compress just about all the styles of Polish Death Metal into one insane onslaught. Here we see brushes with technicality mixed with intoxicating rhythms. They even have some of that groove Vader throws into their songs, but Trauma experiment with syncopation between instruments a little bit more. While I'm not sure I would say this brings them to a highly original form, but I will say this is exactly the kind of Death Metal I want to spend my time listening to. Trauma have the unique ability to distill the greatest sounds in Death Metal into a single album, which might get them overlooked with regards to originality, but it really shouldn't. Every time a classic band experiments too much and puts out a dud album or gets locked into a sequence they can't get out of we must turn to bands like Trauma. Trauma takes the very best of any bands experimentation and recasts it with other elements to really make their songs stand out.
I'm not sure about anyone else out there, but when I want to listen to a solid and perfect album through and through I tend to turn to these bands that manage to take what others have done and really harness it. There's a huge difference between wholly unoriginal bands and those that are exceptional songwriters. Trauma find themselves in the latter category. I certainly don't mind bands pushing the envelope and experimenting, but if I want to hear how a band's influence fell to the (sometimes) better songwriters than the original, I turn to these bands. The refinement in quality is sometimes an immense pleasure and you really can't go wrong with an incredibly solid album like this.
Pagan Records, 2001
Genre: Death Metal
2. Unable to React
3. A Gruesome Display
5. Swallow the Murder
6. Dust (Kill Me)
7. Silent Scream (Slayer Cover)
8. A Deep Scar
9. Suffocated in Slumber
11. Bloodshot Eyes
After a few full lengths Trauma have returned with an explosive live performance in guise of "Crash Test - Live". Personally, I'm not usually too big on live albums, because a lot of times the recording quality comes across as sub-par. However, that is not the case with this live recording. This is extremely well recorded and mastered and it just goes to show that Trauma can easily compete on stage with bands as mighty as Vader (whom I've seen many times).
This is quite an interesting show because the opening band was Decapitated! To give people that historical perspective, Decapitated were just starting to make a name for themselves amongst the locals of Poland. Headlining was, none other than, Vader! What a show this must have been! I'm sure this is nothing new to the Polish metal fans, but where I'm from something like this would be unheard of. Trauma's set list sticks mostly to "Suffocated in Slumber" with some tracks taken from "Daimonion". I think "Comedy" is sort of ignored a bit more than the others because the writing doesn't fit as well with their newer material. It certainly isn't as devastating to listen to and the newer material make for a much better live show. To make this even more precious Trauma do an incredible cover of Slayer's "Silent Scream". This was extremely awesome because this is one of the songs that often gets overlooked when people think to cover Slayer, so it was great to see someone do this.
The booklet comes with a lot of live photos. Some of which were taken by Decapitated's Witek. I'm not surprised the instrumentation sounded great, but I was especially impressed with Piotr's vocal performance. He's come a long way since the days of his work on "Comedy is Over". He's really harnessed a spectacular vocal tone over the years and it just sounds perfect! I was surprised to see that the use of Mesa Boogie amps yielded a performance this heavy. My experience with these amps has seen them trend towards the more Treble end of things, but Trauma might be using a processor combination that really punches up those amps distortion.
As far as live albums go, this is absolutely worth the purchase. If you're a Trauma fan I would even consider this a must buy and the recording quality actually isn't too different from "Suffocated in Slumber," so to hear some old tracks in that guise is quite a treat.
Pagan Records, 2000
Genre: Death Metal
1. A Gruesome Display
2. Unable to React
3. Suffocated in Slumber
4. A Deep Scar
5. Swallow the Murder
6. Words of Hate
7. Tools of Mutual Harm
8. Dust (Kill Me)
9. ...Bloodshot Eyes
Oh my... I don't know what happened to Poland in 2000, but for some reason just about all their Death Metal bands just started to release some of the most exceptional sounding Death Metal around. While a lot of them weren't doing anything original, the modern take on the tried and true Death Metal theme came across as being unoriginal, yet refreshing at the same time. Lost Soul, Nomad, Decapitated, etc. started to produce seriously quality material around this time. Vader started doing extremely original work around "Black to the Blind" and it seems to have taken a few more years for the rest of Poland to catch up with that level of quality. "Suffocated in Slumber" is a monster of a Death Metal album and while my interest in the U.S. scene has started to wane... I feel turning to Poland is going to be in my best interest. Next to Sweden that is... whom I've always found putting out quality Death Metal.
If you had asked me where I thought Trauma was going after "Daimonion" my answer certainly wouldn't have been "Suffocated in Slumber." "Suffocated in Slumber" is a heavy assault of Death Metal, which is not a direction I was expecting. Trauma has definitely been getting more influenced by Vader, but they've been blending that with a more standard Death Metal sound, which gives this album a far more fresh feel and doesn't feel completely generic. A lot of the strength of this album comes from the fact that Trauma really understand how to compose excellent Death Metal. They always manage to keep the songs interesting and change up sections enough in order to keep the listener from getting bored. I tend to gravitate towards the more rhythmic style of Death Metal and to hear Trauma infuse it into their sound is quite a treat for me. Strangely once in a while I feel like there is some Fear Factory in the rhythmic parts here and there. There are rhythmic sections that I think Decapitated and Yattering would eventually start using on their later releases.
I feel like they really upped the ante when it comes to musicianship on this album as well. Piotr's vocals are much better on this release than anything he has done prior. He has managed to get down a solid Death Metal growl, whereas on "Daimonion" his performance comes across as feeling a little weak. One thing I was surprised to hear show through a bit was the Bass work. "Suffocated in Slumber" has moments where you hear that Bass guitar shine through and add this extra layer to the music that just needs to be there now. On "Unable to React" we even get a nice bass lick in the opening section, which is very reminiscent of a Suffocation thing to do. The drum work has always been solid with Trauma, but I think Maly's drum work is so much more punishing on this release. Not only has the technical proficiency of the writing been increased on the guitar, but even the complex rhythmic elements make this a truly special album. They've even started to include some haunting sections like the intro to the title track.
"Suffocated in Slumber" is one solid Death Metal album. It's a shame that I feel Trauma often gets overlooked by the Death Metal listening public. Perhaps they do get overshadowed by the more major Polish bands, but this really shouldn't be the case. If I honestly had to choose, I would say Sweden is presenting us with the strongest Death Metal scene and Poland is by far a close second. The style of Death Metal from both regions are vastly different, so I don't hear that much overlap. If you're looking for a more modern take on traditional Death Metal, this is really what you're looking for.
Pagan Records, 1998
Genre: Death Metal
Part One: Daimonion
1. Intro (Suicide)
2. Dust (Kill Me)
Part Two: Invisible Reality (1992)
8. The Dawn / No Way Out
9. Hidden Instincts
10. Human Race
11. No Hope
12. Escape Into the Shadow
After a debut full length that I found less than interesting Trauma have returned with a sort of half & half type of release. Half of this is new songs while the other half is their 1992 demo and certainly lost to history at this point. I think this is a great idea since I usually like to hear what bands were doing in their demo days and Trauma wasted no time in releasing the material.
While this may not be bringing anything new to the Death Metal scene, I will say the new songs are a massive improvement compared to what was done on "Comedy is Over." I think Trauma are finally getting into their writing groove where they manage to write interesting songs that don't feel overly re-hashed. The opening riff of "Dust (Kill Me)" is simply excellent and vaguely reminiscent of something Malevolent Creation might be doing, especially "Retribution" era. They sort of switch their sound up a little bit with "Possessed" which is more of a Melodic Death Metal styled song. It has those very catchy moments, but they also add in some darker more atmospheric elements that make the song stand out with the others. It also has some Thrashier elements, which persist into "Name." I think Trauma is merely okay at this style and they don't really compare to the hard hitting "Dust (Kill Me)." I really think Trauma is still exploring the style of Death Metal they're very good at playing. The varied nature of the writing is what really leads me to believe this to be the case. Either way, they're moving in the right direction when it comes to quality metal finally.
The second part of this is a re-release of their original demo, which first came on Cassette. In looking this up I see they didn't include the full track listing on this re-release. There is a track seven called "Beerguys." I can sort of understand why they would choose to omit this kind of track if it's nothing interesting, but I do like to hear everything from the original demo days if possible. "Invisible Reality" is some very primitive sounding Death Metal, which only shows how young the genre was at the time. I think they drew a lot of influence from bands like Obituary or Entombed and a few others in the scene when writing this. It hearkens back to those early days when Thrash was also a much more distinctive element in Death Metal's sound. Just listen to "Hidden Instincts" to see what I mean! The really sad part is that I found the demo material to be better than "Comedy is Over." Their original vocalist, Bubi, was actually pretty good and it makes me wonder what the newer recordings would be like if he did the vocals.
This is really where Trauma starts to pick up speed for me. I definitely recommend checking this album out if you found "Comedy is Over" to be rather lackluster like I did. This is absolutely a must have if you really like that old school Death Metal sound of the late 80's/early 90's solely for "Invisible Reality."
Pagan Records, 1996
Genre: Death Metal
4. This Can't be True
6. Comedy is Over
7. Naked Truth
I usually like to review a band's demo before getting started into their albums, but I've decided to skip over Trauma's and delve right into the discography. Trauma hail out of Poland and they are one of the earlier Death Metal bands from that country. On that note I find it sort of baffling that this band is relatively unknown. I had never even heard of them until 2012 and I can't believe how much I've missed out on! So now I've back tracked and picked up their early releases to see how they've changed over the years.
Even though Trauma is pretty much a Death Metal band, the band used to be called Thanatos in the early 90's and were a Thrash Metal group. I feel like that has a lot of bearing on how Trauma's first album took shape. "Comedy is Over" actually feels more like a transitional type of album. There is a huge amount of Thrash influence seething throughout this entire album, but it's not applied in such a way that I would term this a "Death/Thrash" album akin to what Defleshed could churn out.
As I listened to this album I realized that this was going to be extremely hard for me to describe. Yet there was a clear primary influence, but I just couldn't figure out what it was. After some real deep listening it dawned on me that I think this band's primary influence is from Megadeth. Honestly, it's what I would sort of expect if Megadeth were to play Death Metal. A lot of the chord and riff structuring is very similar to what I hear from Dave Mustaine's writing. Some of the stuff sounds like it could have been taken right from "Countdown to Extinction". Having a much heavier take on Megadeth actually sounds like a really cool idea, but I'm not sure it really worked out on "Comedy is Over". I feel like the ideas are there, but the writing just isn't up to doing it justice. I feel like it's structured a little too haphazardly in the sense that they play a Megadeth styled riff then play a fairly typical Death Metal sounding riff to make it sound more "brutal". But these switches and changes don't really work in the albums favor, and instead gives the writing a fairly amateur feel. One thing I liked a lot, though, was the use of some very eerie clean guitar blended into the compositions. These are the parts of the album that really made the music shine and I really wanted more of that.
In the end this probably isn't a buy, unless you really have to hear how Trauma began, like me. I think this is a decent starting point for Trauma because at the very least you aren't going to get what has been established as standard Death Metal. There is a degree of innovation going on here, but it just isn't fully formed. I have no idea if they'll stick with this because I haven't really listened to the albums right after this. I am interested to see where they go with this though.
I chose the title track as a sample, because I think it best represents what I described above. Other tracks would work, but I felt this had everything I tried to discuss.