When I think of Polish metal bands, I must admit that I automatically think of internationally acclaimed acts such as Behemoth and Vader. Having recently been subjected to the humiliation of the band self-described as “Poland’s Iron Maiden”, i.e. Turbo, I’m somewhat sceptical about some of the boasts made about some of the other stalwarts of the scene in that particular part of the world.
Having said that, it is hard to argue with art rockers Coma’s credentials: several number one singles and albums, a plethora of gold and platinum discs, a handful of the Polish equivalent of Brit awards… their boast to be ‘Poland’s biggest rock’ band, therefore, is fairy justified.
‘Don’t Set Your Dogs On Me’ – the five piece’s fifth album, their second in English and first four earMUSIC – is an interesting offering, lying somewhere between Pearl Jam, Korn and Muse. And that’s a problem: while the band are obviously not afraid to experiment with different sounds, the result is somewhat patchy and inconsistent in its variance of styles.
Opener ‘Keep The Peace, for example, built on a beautiful rolling bass line and a catchy chorus, is almost poppy in its appeal, with only Piotr Roguki’s deep vocal growl helping to veer in a rockier direction, while ‘Dance With A Queen’ is darkly aggressive and dense, sounding like a cross between Korn and Rage Against The Machine’ – the latter most firmly evinced on the punch-in-the-face subtlety of the chorus – and ‘Rainy Song’ and ‘Late’, while ratcheting up the heaviness quite considerably sound like Linkin Park covering System Of A Down or Korn.
Having said that, the musical performances are superb: the rhythm section of Adam Marszalkowski and Rafal Matuszak are a very tight unit, the former’s drumming style having a laid back efficiency while the latter’s bass harmonies complement perfectly the excellent guitar work of Marcin Kobza and Dominik Witczak, and Roguki’s unusual vocal style draw out the darkness and density of the deeply personal nature of many of the tracks (even if he does sound a bit too like Jonathan Davies on several occasions!).
My personal standout is the epic ‘Lion’ – morose and almost laconic with an underlying sense of foreboding, which simmers to the surface in the shape of short, sharp bursts of unrestrained violence, it’s a song that demands close attention in order to discover the subtle nuances multiplied with it. It’s just a pity that it’s followed by the Snow Patrol-esque yawn fest of ‘Furious Fate’, which totally contradicts its title by being so laidback it’s virtually horizontal, while the last third of the album is disappointing and largely forgettable, with the exception of the brooding ‘Moscow’, which again sees the band stretching their musical muscles to the full, especially in its jazzy final phase.
1. Keep The Peace
2. With You
3. Always Summer
4. Dance With A Queen
5. Rainy Song
8. Furious Fate
9. Don’t Set Your Dogs On Me
11. A Better Man
12. When The Music Is A Flame
‘Don’t Set Your Dogs On Me’ is released on earMUSIC/Edel on February 25th.