Monday, October 6, 2014


I usually don't get much negative feedback about the things I post on this blog. Truth be told, I don't have a large enough readership to generate a ton of negativity. There's the occasional band who links to a review from their Facebook page and causes a spike in my audience, but otherwise it's a small crowd.

As for what rare hostility I do get, it's usually a result of said band postings. The fans of some group will get pissed because a moron like me doesn't understand why their favored band is amazing. That comes with the territory and is mostly confined to the band's page rather than spilling over here, so I don't really mind.

A little while back, though, I encountered a particularly peculiar response. My August review of the new Stworz album was posted on the band's Facebook, where it was met with scorn and disgust. The funny thing, though, was that I thoroughly enjoyed the album and gave it a good grade. Normally I would move on without a second thought, but the oddity of this situation has prompted me to ponder a little. What exactly was the issue?

I eventually reached some conclusions that, in my own mind at least, made sense. Now, because I am stuck killing time away from home with nothing much to do, I've decided to write a post about it.

The first issue, quite glaringly, was that some of what I said was lost in translation. The band, and their core fanbase, are Polish. As a result of our differing primary languages, I am convinced that some complaints simply came about because the readers didn't totally understand what I was saying. One good example of this is that the majority of critics seemed to think I was calling Stworz a death metal band. They are not death metal at all, but I brought up Vader in the post, when comparing vocals, and I mentioned some ties to a melodeath sensibility. Thus, I think there was just some confusion which came across to those readers as ignorance on my part. I can't do much about other people's grasp of a given language, though, so that's just going to be what it is.

If, however, there are by some chance any of those same individuals reading this post now, then there is one other issue that I can address. I'm fairly certain that I inadvertently insulted the Polish metal scene. In the review, I stated that most Polish metal lived in the shadows of Behemoth and Vader. When I was reading the assorted "this guy is an idiot" comments, I noticed that many of them related to the fact that there are many other great Polish bands and that I am apparently oblivious to the fact that Poland has more than two metal acts.

The truth is, I'm aware of the fact that Poland has other good metal. If I recall correctly, I actually put Poland on my list of the top 10 metal counties in the world a few years ago. Polish fans, though, may be denying a couple truths to themselves.

For one thing, it's true that while there are plenty of talented bands from that nation, to the majority of the metal world, those bands are unknown. If you ask a non-Polish metalhead off the street to name three Polish metal bands, you'll probably hear something like "Well there's Behemoth, obviously. And there's Vader. And . . . uhhh. . . ." If you are obscure outside your home country, you simply don't have the kind of large scale impact on the metal world that those two have. Sorry, but that's the truth.

The other big truth is that, whether you like to admit it or not, a huge number of Polish metal acts do imitate that famous pair. I'm not picking on you, Poland. That's a very common pattern. Norway is full of wannabe Darkthrones. Sweden has given us a thousand clones of Entombed. Successful bands breed imitators, especially on their home turf. The same thing happens in American metal. The only difference is that the size and relative diversity of the US population has lead to a larger number of scenes that each copy specific bands, whereas Poland is smaller and less visible on the world stage so its options for successful native bands to follow are more narrow.

So there you have it. Yes, I know Poland has a healthy, talented metal scene. The simple truth, though, is that a couple of bands have made a huge international impact while most of the others are still far less well known. That's not an insult, that's reality. And that, my fine Polish friends, is what I meant about those colossal twin shadows.

1 comment:

  1. There are a few things to unpack here.

    1. It's unfortunate that so much got lost in translation. Nothing you can do there.

    2. Yeah, bands' FB pages are just a place for people to jerk each other off and insult anyone who is not like-minded.

    3. Polish metal! I've never considered how the Polish must view their own metal scene. I think in the bottom rungs of metal review blogs you tend to come into contact with a lot of it, and we tend to form a very specific picture of it--which is, they all pretty much sound like Behemoth and Vader. Although, to be fair, I've written my fair share of reviews that said, "Surprisingly, they don't sound like Behemoth or Vader," so maybe that first impression is off. Maybe it's the international promotion that's off. In other words, maybe the promoters started with what was most like Behemoth and Vader, because they thought that would be successful, and it's skewed perceptions outside Poland. But even if the "first impression" of Poland is mostly accurate, I still think it's awesome. Imagine the dedication of a whole scene of metal bands to that pretty specific, brutally unsubtle style. There's something to be admired in that. Even if it does get tiresome on occasion, you sometimes need to hear it.