Review: Banisher “Degrees of Isolation” [Selfmadegod Records]

Review: Banisher “Degrees of Isolation” [Selfmadegod Records]

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If punishing Polish death metal of the kind that Decapitated have been executing with such remorseless elan for almost a quarter of a century stokes your fires, then their no-less combustible countrymen Banisher certainly deserve your attention.

Degrees of Isolation is their fourth album and is an absolute beast. It hooks you right into the pit with the buzzsaw guitars and blood-curdling roar that ignite opener “Actors & Accomplices” and never shows a moment’s weakness from there on in.

It’s what a wine connoisseur may describe as ‘full-bodied’. It’s got muscles on its muscles and you get that foreboding sense of apprehension that if you plan on getting in the ring with these brutes you better bring your A game.

The Decapitated point of reference is a valid one as Banisher contains former members while the eye-catching spittle-specked artwork is courtesy of Łukasz Jaszak who has also worked with Decapitated, amongst many other notable metal acts.

Many of the tracks focus on singer Hubert Wiecek’s troubled times in the US a few years ago when he found himself briefly behind bars. The anger and injustice he felt is put to good use here as he lets rip with heartfelt venom – reflected in song titles such as “Extradition” and “Lockdown”.

The quartet (who between them have also clocked up miles on the road with the likes of Hate, Shodan and Belphegor) possess the intrinsic nous and nuance to infuse their brutalised sound with sufficient tech wizardy on tracks such as ‘Devil in ISO-5″ and “Extradition” to keep things fresh and avoid the pitfalls of just ploughing head first into a sticky sonic swamp.

One fleeting moment of respite comes on the instrumental “Illusory Enslavement” before “Sacred Rules,” asserts with a more measured and menaced tempo is used to great effect, before a meaty chug takes over at midway.

The timely “Lockdown” was written before the world threw away the key and went home, but still shows remarkable foresight. It’s the longest track coming in at almost nine minutes, and operates on many levels, the vocals in the more manic sections reminiscent of Serj Tankian in full motormouth flow.

Banisher fly out of the traps on “Apotheosis” on which the guitar strings are shred to breaking point at times as the Poles blitz their way through three minutes of circle pit inducing mayhem, rising up to a climactic iceberg of a breakdown.

Banisher have gone through a few changes in line-up over the past 15 years but the maturity and power that resonates throughout Degrees of Isolation suggests that the current quartet are ready to scale a peak not previously reached.

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Paul Castles

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