Released: 2016, Deformeathing Productions
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Poland's Banisher offer up their third album with Oniric Delusions, and first since guitarist Hubert Więcek also signed on to play bass with higher-profile countrymen Decapitated. And it's easy to see, or at least hear, how Więcek might have landed the Decapitated gig, since the two bands share a similar affinity for groovy technical death metal.
Indeed, Banisher seem to have tightened the reins on their technical aspirations on Oniric Delusions, giving it more crunch and bite but perhaps less dazzle than their previous releases. All of which is a good thing. And while that may have come naturally via their maturity as players and writers, Więcek's exposure to some of the masters of the genre with Decapitated certainly can't have hurt.
The album, which clocks in at a lean and mean half-hour, gets off to a bit of a rocky start with “Axes to Fall,” probably the most complex and technically involved – not to mention longest – track here. And as the band try to cram in as many riffs, time changes and turn-on-a-dime twists as they can, it comes off as bloated and unwieldy.
But Banisher find their, umm, groove quickly thereafter with the sleek and savage “Human Factor” that rides Więcek's surging guitars and Jacek Gut's drum fusillades. It flat out slays as does “The Iconoclast,” which opens with the band – including iron-lunged vocalist Szczepan Inglot – already in full-bore and only lets up for a big hooky finish layered with Więcek's tasteful lead work.
“Notion Materialized” opens with spry, almost Voivod-like riffing before hurtling forward on Gut's blast-beat battery. The Voivod-iness returns for Więcek's shrill soloing, but is soon countered by some truly menacing, industrial weight grooves, making it the album's heaviest tune. “Synthetic Euphoria” chugs for all its worth, with Inglot's bug-eyed barking cadence recalling Napalm Death's Barney Greenway.
Like “Axes To Fall,” though, “Confront The Mass” staggers under the weight of its complexity and never quite finds its way, seeming a collection of parts more so than a genuine song. Yet Banisher do a complete 180 for album closer “The Fatal Parable of a Certain Mercenary,” by far the most melodic and taut track here. Its mid-tempo, almost brooding delivery, shimmering guitars and slow build to its crescendo show a welcome finesse after all of the intensity that preceded it.
Oniric Delusions is a definite step forward Banisher. That, along with Więcek's association with Decapitated, can only help raise their profile among an ever more fruitful Polish death metal scene. And one gets the impression that the best is yet to come from there guys. Can't wait.