Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wolfspider - Kingdom of Paranoia (1990)

My first introduction to Wolfspider, and Polish metal in general, was the Speed Kills 5 album which contained no less than four Polish bands: Turbo, Dragon, Acid Drinkers and Wolfspider. Oddly enough, in the wikipedia page both Dragon and Wolfspider appear to have been forgotten about. Admittedly, Dragon are more death metal (and thus might not appear on a thrash band lsit), but Wolfspider are definitely thrash. Anyhow, I heard the song "Black n Whites", really liked it, found this on cassette tape and bought it. Found another copy or two a while later in the bargain bins for $2, so I bought them too as ways of introducing my overseas friends to them. Then I finally acquired it on cd when it was re-issued and - after years of trying - also managed to get their follow up album "Drifting on a Sullen Sea". So yeh, I like Wolfspider and Acid Drinkers are quite amusing, but the rest of the Polish Thrash scene I can take or leave* - and would prefer to leave, dziękuję.

The cover is moody and strange. The ocean, reflecting the full moon above as a quater moon. A man in (ugly checkered) suit and tie atop a throne from which unrolls a crimson carpet, towards a cage in which three soldiers protest their capture. Between them, a dog with the head of a man grovels at the suited man's feet, his head turned to glare at the soldiers. One cannot help but feel there is some sort of political message here and the lyrics also reflect similar themes of social issuses and political complications, all written in halting broken English. Inside the band all look so young and curly haired.

The album opens with the classically inspired intro to "Manifestants" which is rich and evocative, gutiars interweaving into a fine tapestry that then blasts into rapid drumming and stampeding guitars. Vocalist Jacky shouts for the most part, but he has a silvery iron edge to his voice and falls into erratic, almost funk, rhythms for some of the verses. It's erratic, jerky and surprisingly effective. This is a song of revolution:
"Revolution - we want freedom, we want rights
Revolution - no one will rule us again
People want to rule."
Time for a brief history lesson - Poland were shaking the shackles of Communism 1989-1991 - when this album was written and made.

My favourite Wolfspider song "Pain" is a broken and grieving song, still containing the raw and brutal energy of thrash but containing a deeply emotional, raw side. It is a song of death and loss - a drunk driver steals the life of child and wife, and the husband mourns his loss whilst also raging his anger.  The tempo switches from anger to grief within a few erratic bars making it jarring and real and very affective.

The thrashing "Black n Whites" was the first ever Wolfspider song I ever heard.The vocals are a high and semi-tortured whine. There seems to be a bit of a religious feel to the lyrics, which for the most part do not make a lot of sense:
"Father from the stars, your servants serve you so poor
there are many traitors greedy for dough
father from stars, they don't treat you with respect
it isn't good to follow your footsteps anymore."
The last is sun in an almost melodious manner. His accent shines through in everything he says, and pronounces some words almost phoentically.

"Foxes" is a song about deception. It starts fast and jerky, before smoothing up for a few bars then going chaotic again. Another jerky, erratically tempoed piece.

"Waiting For Sense" has a slight funk rhythm to the vocals, although the instruments are still fast and hard and all over the place. Chorus is, again, surprisingly melodic, as is the rather more traditionally paced guitar solo. At least for the first few bars.

It's time to get funky as we enter the "Desert". The rhythms are mainstreamed now into more traditional funk metal, with the guitars zig-zagging across them and then the drums going wild.

"Sickened Nation" is a crazy and restless song. Jerky, erratic, and with surprisingly polished guitar solo.

The opening guitar chords of "Nasty-ment" are very technical and soon fall into a race with the drums. This is an instrumental, and it is a frantic flurry of instrumentation.

The pace drops back into steadier rhythms for "Survive". Vocals are the high, slightly off-tune whine. The chorus has appeal:
"Look! A bird's flying in the sky so free and so proud
try to bear it like it does, to pass over that."
 Final track, "Weakness" is a bonus not included on my cassette versions. It was a bit of a surprise when I finally heard it (the lyrics were printed on the cassette sleeve, even though the song wasn't on it, so I knew it existed) because it's completely different in tempo and melody, being more reminscient of an old love song, maybe from back in the 60s or something. The lyrics are rather amusing, and seem to be about how girls are his weakness (either that or alcohol). After the opening verse it rapidly declines into the rather frantic, chaotic rhythms we've grown used to, but it slows down for the vocals. It's crazy, fun and quirky. Complete with drunken singing. Just ignore the sexploitative nature to the lyrics.

In small doses, Wolfspider are very cool: with their erratic, jerky rhythms; melodic almost metallic** vocals; crazy lyrics and competent instrumentation. Too much of them, and it starts to wear on you, making you feel sort of edgy and restless. It is hard to relax or concentrate on anything else. Probably due to the pace and chaoticness of the rhythms.

Rating = 6.5/10

* For fun here's some more Polish metal (and it's all pretty thrash and aggressive and not aurally pleasant to me):
Dragon "I Spit in Your Face"
Turbo "Barbaric Justice"

And here's Vader "Never Say My Name" (this is the first time I have heard them)

** I can't think of a better way to describe it - it's a sharp knife-like whine with a softer edge.

No comments:

Post a Comment