Werewolf Promotion, 2017
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
1. Białe stanice, czerwone niebiosa
5. Znów zakwitną sady
6. Niech żyje śmierc
7. Przez żmijową niwę
8. Jesteśmy Słońcem
9. Moja Swarzyca
10. Będę tęsknotą w Twych samotnych oczach
11. Na szarych łodziach Grudnia
12. Jest bez pole stecka
After "Zagony bogów", I was certainly looking forward to its follow up. For this, Stworz ended up taking a few years from working on metal related music and put out acoustic and folk styled releases, which I'm not very interested in, so they're not going to appear in the review set. If you like that stuff, I'm sure they did an excellent job, but I doubt I would give the material a very fair review, because I often find it boring after a while. Luckily after a couple years Stworz was back to release another excellent Pagan Black Metal album.
"Wołosożary" is a little different from "Zagony bogów", because it's not nearly as vicious or powerful. I think "Wołosożary" is a lot more melancholic than their prior material. It's kind of strange, to me, since they seem to be following a very similar path to Nokturnal Mortum, because "Verity" is a lot more mellowed out compared to "Voice of Steel". However, these projects are certainly operating independently and Stworz has quite a different overall sound despite the influence of the bigger named project. Stworz did a better job on this album blending the folk instruments more seamlessly in the production. In some prior albums instruments like the flute would just dominate the mix, but here it sits a lot better. The blend of distorted guitars and acoustic guitars works very well and only serves to emphasize that more melancholic atmosphere this time. They adjusted the drum production a little as well, it's only okay as far as I'm concerned. The kick drums lost some of their punch, so it doesn't have that kick feel like I'm listening to Doc from Vader, which I kind of liked for some reason, but I can see why Stworz would want to back off on that.
In the end this doesn't hit as hard as "Zagony bogów", but it definitely has some great music on it. It took me a couple listens to really get interested in the album. It was the closer, second listen, where I got to experience the full breadth of this album. It's a really beautiful piece of music, but for me, I think "Zagony bogów" is a little better. Either way, if you've already been following Stworz then the new album doesn't disappoint, it just takes our journey in a slightly different direction.
Werewolf Promotion, 2015
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
1. Zagony bogów
2. Pług czasu
3. Maro, Maro
4. Przędza losu
5. Perun jest mnogi
6. Droga mleczna
8. Czerwone jajeczko
9. Nic ponad bogów myśl i czyn
10. Pieśń żerców
11. Pożegnanie słońca
12. Szerokie pole
We didn't have long to wait from the follow-up to "Cóż po żyznych ziemiach..." and I won't complain about that at all. "Zagony bogów" continues Stworz' interesting blend of Pagan/Folk elements into their unique style of Black Metal. As usual they bring us a booklet filled with art that inspires the imagery of the music.
I actually enjoyed "Zagony bogów" more than the previous album. I feel like this is where Stworz really managed to blend everything that influences them into a single cohesive album. I think on the prior album they were still a bit more explorative with everything, but on this release they've really harnessed what they were trying to do and blended all the pieces together. One of the problems I find when blending things like traditional pieces and Black Metal together, is that sometimes things can wind up feeling overly upbeat. However, the prior album wound up falling into that trap a little bit, however "Zagony bogów" manages to blend the styles together very well. It manages to keep an overarching intensity and darkness, while at the same time blending in the epic feel of the traditional elements. When they switch over to the folk parts that are calming and the traditional female vocals, they feel far more well thought out than before. Sometimes on "Cóż po żyznych ziemiach..." the elements felt sort of forced together, but now they've sorted out those issues.
If you're a fan of things like modern Nokturnal Mortum, then I would imagine that "Zagony bogów" will be an enjoyable listen. Definitely one of the best albums released for the year in my book. Absolutely a must buy if your into this style of music.
Werewolf Promotion, 2014
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
2. Nim wróci Wiosna...
3. Matka Ziemia, Ojciec Słońce
5. Mój kraj
6. Koło życia
8. By dla Słońca pieśni śpiewać...
9. Gdy Słońce przemierza bezkresne niebiosa...
10. Wieczne Słońce
11. Cóż po żyznych ziemiach...
12. Z tamtej strony jeziora
Stworz has actually been pretty quiet for a couple years, but this album is where they caught my attention. Because I heard "Cóż po żyznych ziemiach..." it made me want to back into their discography and find out what the early material sounded like, while it's not as good as this, it was still pretty good. However, I feel like the whole approach to writing and record changed dramatically on this album and Stworz took a very mature step with this release.
Even though Stworz stands on the shoulders of other artists like Nokturnal Mortum, Falkenbach and later Honor (probably because they're Polish and use similar progressions) I feel like Stworz has carved out a unique enough sound to set them apart from other bands. When we hit this album I feel like Stworz is striking out on their own to combine the sounds of their native land with Black Metal in a far more cohesive way than ever before. The end results is a composition that has those epic and triumphant qualities, but still has a bit of a darker undercurrent to their music. Even though they'll include native folk elements in their music, it never really strikes a level of silliness that you'd hear with something like Finntroll... except one song... the end of "Mój kraj". It's the one and only time they deviate from their approach and it really kills the feel of the album in this one section. It's a real shame, because it's one of my favorite songs on the album, until they start with the up beat stuff. Either way, I prefer Stworz' overall approach to the Pagan Black Metal genre more. Hopefully future releases will be a more cohesive listening experience though.
On this release they also feature a female singer that adds a lot more to that ancient folk feel. Singing in a more traditional voice of the region it adds an interesting feel to the music. Vocally W. doesn't try to achieve the more traditional Black Metal vocals as we heard in prior releases, but something in between that and more of a shout. The end results is a vocal performance that melds far better in his music than his previous vocal attempts. This approach is one of the things that was sorely missing from the Stworz arrangements and I'm really glad he switched to this style of vocal. It's not clean, it's not entirely harsh, but sits somewhere in between, since if this was dominated by clean vocals, I probably wouldn't like it.
The production quality of their recordings has been improved quite a bit. I still think the band is using either an e-kit or programming the drums. I think it's more likely an e-kit though, because of the way the performance sounds. It sounds more human than outright machine. The kick drum samples kind of have that Vader kick drum sound and for whatever reason it seems to work here. They have this powerful presence in the mix, which really helps drive the music. The guitar feel far more organic before and even if they're DI'ing everything instead of mic'ing up amps they did a pretty good job with making everything sound as real as they could. Yet amidst all of this there still feels like an underlying quality of rawness that I personally believe should be pervasive in all Black Metal production, because otherwise its too polished and doesn't fit the genre.
If you're really going to spend some time getting into this album, make sure you set aside a good amount of time, because it's over an hour long. So, it's quite the journey, but Stworz' songs are so enjoyable that I find it easy to stay entertained throughout the recording. I really look forward to Stworz exploring this approach in future releases. Definitely a must hear album!
Werewolf Promotion, 2012
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
1. Zmierzch nad Sławią
2. Słońce niezwyciężone
3. Blask nad wiecznymi lasami
4. Celebracja cykli słońca
5. Tragedie krwią w śniegu pisane
6. Jesienne liście spadają w deszczu
7. Oblicze Chorsowe
8. Wiatr, co słowiańską pieśń niesie
9. Duma Lechitów
11. Rodzima wiara
If you missed out on the first two tape releases by Stworz like I did, this is your chance to listen to that old material. On the way to this compilation, I also missed out on some more splits and EP's... ah well, I've just resigned myself to reviewing what I have available from this project. Stworz also delves into releasing acoustic/folk styled releases amidst their metal albums and I'm not as interested in those.
Since this material pre-dates "Po czasu kres" this music is along similar lines, but almost more primitive in some ways. With "Blask nad wiecznymi lasami" first being released in 2008, you can still get an idea of the basic foundation Stworz was going for. That epic flavor put into the Pagan Black Metal style is ever present in Stworz's riffing style. However, I found the overall music to plod along a little more slowly compared to later releases. Some moments are great, but you can still tell that this is a pretty early effort for the project. As this project grows things get a little more elaborate and more well formed. The material featured from the split with Wolforder is little different. The production quality is a little better, the drums sound a bit more real. But writing wise it's not too different.
I've always enjoyed delving into a bands history and early years. While some projects may find some of their early material pretty cringe-worthy, Stworz, luckily, doesn't have that problem. However, it's certainly not great or a legend in the making. It's just not bad. It's a good start, that built into something really spectacular in my opinion. In the end, this isn't music to listen frequently, but it's fun to delve into a bands history and if you liked the more Black Metal days of Stworz's history this will be a must have in that case.
Frenteuropa Records, 2010
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
1. Przekuwając myśl w czyn
2. Do młodzi sławiańskiej!
3. Synowie słońca
4. Nektar inspiracji
6. Łzy Europy
8. My, Lechici
9. Ku horyzontów krańcom
In just the short span of a year the Stworz sound has developed rather dramatically. The songwriting alone just feels so much more mature for some reason. It's as if they struck upon an idea and approach to how their music should sound and it really just melded together very well.
On this album we'll still get a backdrop of Black Metal into their overall sound, with blast beats and harsh vocals. Coupled with the fact that it feels like there's a lot more influence from Nokturnal Mortum's folkier side being thrown into the mix. The overall feel and tone of the guitars actually reminds me of Honor's "W płomieniach wschodzącej siły", which was an album that focused on more pagan themes than anything else. There is a lot more folk instrumentation throughout this album, amidst its epic and passionate metal performance. I think "Мировоззрение" from Nokturnal Mortum bears the strongest resemblence in terms of song writing structure. However, Stworz puts their own twist on the themes and structure, not to mention folk elements unique to their region. So, Stworz is hardly a clone of the projects that started the whole Pagan Black Metal approach, but I feel that Stworz is striking out on a path all their own and will have a more unique voice in the genre with the way this album turned out to be.
While the first Stworz full-length was only okay, this is a major step in the right direction and they have definitely got my attention with this release. I really had no complaints about the album and I found it a very enjoyable album. It may not be one of the most compelling ever released, but it was still very good and definitely moving their songwriting in an excellent direction. I'm interested in what they'll come up with next, that's for sure.
Frenteuropa Records, 2009
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
1. W ciszy jesiennych dni
2. Po czasu kres
3. Dzieje snem okryte
4. Porannych mrozów pieśń
5. Kosovo je Srbija
6. Tragedie pisane krwią w śniegu
7. Duma Sławii
If you're more familiar with the Stworz of 2014 or after, then delving into their back catalog may hold some fairly different things for you. I didn't really run into this band until they were fairly well established and I found their approach very captivating and I was hoping for more of that, so I delved deeper into their music catalog.
People that came to Stworz a little later will be surprised to hear the opening title track being a massive and fast blast fest. However, delving into the second track "Dzieje snem okryte" we begin to hear quite a bit of the sound Stworz would focus on more. One of the bigger differences is the use of a sort of distorted Black Metal voice for a lot of this album, as opposed to that sort of strong shout W. uses in later releases. He's not nearly as good with the Black Metal vocally speaking. He's not bad, but only okay. The guitar tone is also way too fuzzy, but in later releases this gets cleaned up quite a lot, so it's far more desirable to listen to. Still we get those wonderful epic passages that I wanted more of from Stworz and those are rife throughout the album. So, in terms of composition, this is actually a very well done album, and it's merely limited by its production quality, because a cleaner production would favor this style a lot more. The music isn't raw or unbridled enough. The other major issues is the very obvious electronic drum kit. I don't know if he majorly upgraded this kit later or just got an acoustic drum set, but the drum production improves dramatically at some point. For some reason I always think an electronic drum kit on a Pagan Black Metal album is a bit of an oxymoron... ah well, I do realize not everyone has the means or space for acoustic drums. Still, I would hire someone before delving into the e-kit for this.
Delving into Stworz's past I was expecting to hear far worse, but I think they've crafted a very good album here and it is merely marred by a sub-par production value. Overall the album has great songwriting and a compelling triumphant atmosphere, but it doesn't shine through nearly as much as future releases. So, Stworz is off to a strong start, but has some areas to seriously improve upon in the future.