Review by Alex on February 7, 2019.
Tankograd whom I have just only discovered have left me stunned, absolutely speechless. This is doom metal done indelibly, crafted with care and ingenious precision. The overwhelming emanations of gloom, doom and full-fledged atmospheric oppression is brought to life by Poland’s Tankograd. Afflicted with a pinch of sludge, stoner and blues rudiments, this quartet piece faction provides an album that will be remembered for years to come. Hence said, it needs to be available on vinyl. I mostly know Poland for their black metal that reeks of murky auras, but their doom metal I'm surely new to. Once hearing this debut full-length following Tankograd's 2017 Ep (that I will investigate), my craving for the material intensified. Tankograd wasted no time in revealing their influences as the Polish black metal was being presented in full flourish. Sometimes a flower can only drift so far away before it's roots begin to sprout. This is doom metal; however the markings of Polish black metal penetrate the pores of these stalwarts.
As mentioned, black metal riffing is present on Totalitarian, you can hear it make its first waves on the opening song “Ostatni sen Joachima” that accompanies the enigmatic lines of poetry. And with the subject matter being so illustrious, it only comes as a compliment when the black metal riffing takes effect. This adds a lamenting coating to the pessimistic and oppressive tones. The shorter tracks offer a catchier side, whilst the longer tracks on Totalitarian hits you with a trance that cannot be ignored. The atmosphere created on Totalitarian is one that perfectly suits the cover artwork. Having first glance at the image, the saturnine strikes you intensely and sets you up for the anger, melancholy and despair entrenched in this journey. Totalitarian is a very dark and emotional record, you can hear the agony, hatred, pessimism, grief and disgust being conveyed through the brilliant guitar and vocal work. Its magnificence boldly shines on every tune, in every utterance and musical note played.
I can’t get over just how devastating of an atmosphere lingers throughout Totalitarian; though there are instances in which you are given moments of tranquil via bluesy undertones such as on "Żelazne trumny", the destructive sensations return through the mighty sounds of the guitars and vocals. The production ensures you get every crumbling bit of this turmoil expressed through music that governs the journey of traversing this WW2 dilapidated terrain. Totalitarian is a total assault on your senses, it locks your perception in an era that was scarred so aggressively that time could neither heal nor bury the effects. This is the kind of album that rewards the listener as time progresses; though it materializes as a very heavy record both musically and conceptually, you will be given a sense of fulfillment once you have sat through its dread. This needs to be on vinyl, a Cd only release cannot do justice to Tankograd and most certainly not Totalitarian. The record is successful (for an understatement), it has the feeling of menacing misery and bitterness that needs and cries out to be etched in wax. By the time you're done experiencing this 40+ minute marvel, the replay factor kicks in; I guess history does repeat.
Rating: 8.9 out of 10