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The Windmill – Dance Of Fire And Freedom Award winner

The Windmill
Dance Of Fire And Freedom
by Joseth Radiant at 04 February 2020, 10:35 PM

Poland and Heavy Metal have fit together really well since the Iron Curtain fell in the late 20th century. One of the reasons I believe that some top-tier Heavy Metal acts have arisen from this corner of the world is because of Poland’s complex and somewhat challenging history. This is a country that has seen warfare for centuries being sandwiched between the great powers (I’m going to use the modern-day equivalents of these countries to keep it simple and not turn this album review into a super long history essay) of Germany To the west and Russia to the east. On top of enduring the chaos and trauma of two World Wars, combined with surviving decades of communist oppression, as well as some of the greatest atrocities committed in human history occurring within the borders of Poland (the Holocaust), it’s not surprising to find a sense of uneasiness and unsettled sense of mind in the music of groups like VADER and BEHEMOTH. However, when people are dealing with a man’s tragedy and sorrow, the collective mind always seems to look back to the past and ancient times for both inspiration and comfort. THE WINDMILL has given a voice to this yearning of returning to ancient times with their debut album.

One of the first things I thoroughly enjoyed about the album was the fact that the lyrics are written and sung in Polish. Upon doing research into what the band had available online, on their Bandcamp page they made the wise move of posting their lyrics both in Polish and English for each song. Only one of the songs on the album is sung in English, that being the song “Embers”. Hearing the lyrics in English when the rest of the album is in Polish for this one song does not take away or detract from the experience of listening to the album. It fits in perfectly and gives a nice counterpoint for the work that you have to do mentally to understand what the rest of the album is talking about. I thoroughly enjoy hearing Heavy Metal of all stripes singing in their native tongue instead of just assuming that you have to sing in English. As David Lee Roth once said, “You don’t need to speak English in order to enjoy the show.” In this case, you don’t need to speak Polish to know that this is a great debut album by a band that should help put the Polish Folk Metal seen on the map.

Part of what I really enjoyed about this album was getting somewhat of an education about Slavic folklore. Here in the West, we know and we love the folklore of both Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. However, with the popularity of The Witcher books and video games, Slavic folklore is finding an audience here in the west and it’s fascinating people learning about it the more that they dig deeper into these tales. On "Dance of Fire and Freedom" there are songs written about creatures and characters from Slavic folklore. On the title track, we learn of "Mahota". This is, according to their Bandcamp page, “a spirit/creature from Slavic folklore that would lurk in forests and oversee all magic acts and users within its jurisdiction. It would grant arcane lore and knowledge to those that used magic for good, and mercilessly punish those that used it to harm others.” It definitely has the lump-in-the-throat feeling of a story told by a family elder around the hearth warning that one should not seek to use magic in a way that should seek to harm others. For if you do, you will suffer the fate of the souls that are doomed to exist in, as the cryptic lyrics warn, “…(an) afterlife for those, that broke the laws that didn't obey me, threefold hanged, seared with flames, a slave of the mountain…”. This is just a small sample of how powerful the entire album is as a listening experience.

My only critique of the album would be that the few times they try to use blast beats on the drums, the performance does come off as a bit sloppy. However, this is their debut album and I’m well aware that everyone is going to get better from this point onward. Part of the sloppiness reminds me a bit of the early days of CRUACHAN, and it lends a bit of charm to what they’ve been able to achieve.

To sum it all up, this is another stellar addition to the Polish Folk Metal scene. From what I can gather they first started creating music back in 2016 and waited a few years to figure out what works and what does not work for them. I think it was a wise move on their end, and the result is an album that will get them enough attention to hopefully have them as openers on the same concert bill as internationally known Folk Metal acts around the world. Using an excellent balance of folk and modern instruments, I thoroughly enjoyed giving this album a spin. These Poles are keen to keep the traditions of their ancestors alive and well through their music, and I find it refreshing to see THE WINDMILL eager to let the world know that there is more to their country then just the events of recent history. And yes, as always, BUY THIS ALBUM!!!

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Iskry (Sparks)
2. Taniec Ognia i Wolności (Dance of Fire and Freedom)
3. Triskelion
4. Mahota
5. Nadchodzi Burza (The Storm Approaches)
6. Wyraj
7. Północny Wiatr (Northern Wind)
8. Klątwa Utopca (Curse of the Drowned One)
9. Embers
10. Biesiady Czas (Time For A Feast) (Bonus Track)
11. Stalowy Władca (The Steel Emperor) (Bonus Track)
Lineup:
Dominik Wojowski – Bass, Vocals
Bartek Menażyk – Guitars, Lyrics (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6)
Marysia Mazur – Drums, Drum Programming
Jan “Dice” Kowalski – Tin Whistle, Bouzouki, Acoustic Guitars, Synths, Jaw Harp, Vocals, Lyrics (Tracks 8, 9)
Record Label: Independent
     


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