Much of the Polish metal scene lives in the colossal twin shadows of Vader and Behemoth. Death metal especially is so heavily colored by these bands that it's actually surprising to hear a Polish death metal band that doesn't sound like a clone of one or the other. Typically, though, pagan metal moves in a somewhat different sphere and conforms to a different set of standards. It's interesting, then, to hear an example of these worlds colliding.
Stworz, in simplest terms, sound like Vader playing pagan metal. It's pretty fucking awesome.
The songs generally move at a fairly relaxed pace, as is typical for pagan metal. Most tracks settle in at a comfortable 6 minutes or so, giving enough time for atmosphere to develop without dragging on and losing focus. There's a slightly folky flavor, but standard metal instrumentation is dominant throughout the music with only the barest touches added to augment the sound. For the most part, this is pagan metal that's on the more directly metal end of the spectrum. There are quiet moments and goofy, playful passages, but most of what you'll hear is less melodramatic and more straight-forward than is typical for the sub-genre. The drumming in particular propels the music in a surprisingly direct way. The guitar tone and occasional presence of actual bass have more in common with death metal than black metal, marking Stworz as part on an increasingly large movement within the folk and pagan metal world that features melodic death metal as the core of their sound.
Both harsh and clean vocals appear throughout the record. The clean are typically male and female sung in harmony, and they work just fine in a Celtic kind of way that reminds me of some of the less flowery Cruachan songs. The harsh vocals are when things get really cool, though, because his death growls sound remarkably similar to Peter's from Vader. It's enjoyable to hear vocals like those in this context, and in my opinion they do a lot to elevate the overall sound, though I wish they played a bigger role.
I've spent a lot of time hunting, but until recently there hasn't been much in the Viking/folk/pagan vein that has really impressed me this year. This is a good one, though.