If there is something the Polish do well (other than manufacture outstanding 7 and 8 string guitars – thank you Mayones), it is technical death metal. It’s something of a proud tradition, dating back to the actual ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ – Vadar – and still presided over by the one of the genre’s finest and most noble exponents, Decapitated. So it will come as no shock that Rzeszow’s Banisher bear a lot of the hallmarks of the latter act, particularly as it was co-founded by the very same Hubert Wiecek who has recently cropped up playing bass in their ranks. Clocking in at just over thirty minutes and a scant seven tracks, Oniric Delusions is short and it’s massively brutal. But, from the outset Banisher appear to share our school of thought that brutality excludes neither melody nor precision.
First track “Axes to Fall” opens with a pad of noise that sounds like the soundtrack to the morning Callanetics routine aboard the Death Star. When the the song proper breaks it is clear we are to be treated to an exercise in utmost speed and incredible tightness, marked by super-dextrous palm-muting and occasional acid-bath dischord – all perfectly balanced and controlled, of course. Who does that sound like? Ah yes, Decapitated.
Now, before you go writing these boys off as mere imitators or some kind of half-baked side project, we’d like to point out that firstly, the vocals of Szczepan Inglot (try saying that after some of that Polish vodka with the buffalo grass in it) are far more varied than anything in Decapitated’s output and the mix is more adventurous with its use of backing vocals and spatial effects. Secondly, the guitar playing is frankly outstanding. Yes, it uses the same kind of chops as Big D, but Wiecek pours on Fear Factory-esque hooks, stylish pick slides and a smattering of short but incredibly expressive solos that are borderline erotic. According to their press release he is currently endorsed by Ibanez guitars, that’s quite a calling card and should give you a clue as to the standard of playing to expect.
Banisher’s songwriting is strong and memorable too. While it’s mostly an incredibly focussed pummelling that your in for, there are diversions from that template. The opening track is hooky as hell. “The Iconoclast” contains a fantastic series of changes of dynamic as it leads to it’s climax, “Synthetic Euphoria” is just sickeningly heavy and “Confront the Mass” has an almost latter-era Death vibe. In contrast, the midway point, “Notion Materialized” and the closer “The Fatal Parable Of A Certain M” are more chordal and (slightly more) laid back. The latter track contains a textural riff that could almost have been the fruit of Deftones’ Stef Carpenter.
You probably get where we’re going here. Banisher don’t do much to alter the technical death metal template (though it is hard to imagine how much more stylish and refined an evolution it could undergo), but they have created a grin-inducing, pit-igniting gem of a record that makes us want to head-bang massively and destructively as we sit here at our desk.
No prizes here for originality but huge amounts of respect for being utterly awesome. 8/10