Polish misanthropic black metal band WILCZYCA certainly thrived during the dark days of the global pandemic. During February 2020 and April 2021, they released three full-length albums that perfectly captured the prevailing zeitgeist. So entwined with that time were they, that I wondered how they’d fare when restrictions were lifted and the world returned to “normalcy”. The answer is very well, and album number four, Magija, finds them mastering their dark art to create a claustrophobic affair that casts a long shadow over the listener.

Opening to a glacial, monolithic riff, ‘Ingressum’ stands starkly against a white background and, like a piece of abstract art, leaves you feeling dwarfed beneath its imposing stature. It’s a cry echoing throughout the years, the soundtrack to a funeral procession, it’s a dirge for the departed and deceased, and it creates an ominous tone for the rest of the album. Taking that riff, and then adding an array of instrumentation turns the following title-track into an invading army, it marches with military muster and focuses the band’s energies into a finely honed laser beam. Throughout, that riff is totally relentless and wears down your resistance, until you have no choice but to submit to its demands.

WILCZYCA comprise of vocalist Nidhogg, and multi-instrumentalist Louve (vocals, guitar, bass, synths) who’re joined by drummer Krzysztof Klingbein, and together they make a tight unit that ensures each of these tracks is delivered with the requisite force. Take ‘Przyzywan’ for example, it is a ferocious slab of black metal that erupts like a thunderclap splitting a Nordic sky. It cracks as if a sheet of ice, and its glacial, frostbitten aesthetic is perhaps the ultimate distillation of black metal. But don’t mistake them for generic; each of these songs has its own unique identity, and Magija is stitched together by its own eclecticism. After the war cry of ‘Przyzywan’, we are treated to ‘Šwiety Ogień’, a lovely interlude that captures the essence of dungeon synth, and is at once cavernous and claustrophobic, and its low-key vibe only serves to make the musical explosion that is ‘Tiferet’ all the more potent.

Although WILCZYCA tend to veer towards the darker side, there’s also moments of light to provide contrast and relief, and the bass solo in the midst of ‘Wij Się Bōlu Córo Syjonu’ is one such example. A moment of calm inside the eye of a tornado, its boisterous beat seems totally ill at ease with the rest of the track, yet that is precisely why it (and the rest of the album) works, its full of counterpoints clashing and colliding, and in cataclysmic fashion. Curtailed by an eerie coda, ‘Inge Natura Renovatur Integra’ ensures Magija ends on an ominous tone, and one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Track List:

  1. Ingressum
  2. Magija
  3. Przyzywan
  4. Šwiety Ogień
  5. Tiferet
  6. Wij Się Bōlu Córo Syjonu
  7. Tetragrammaton
  8. Igne Natura Renovatur Integra