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Żywiołak - Nowa Ex-Tradycja review


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Band: Żywiołak
Album: Nowa Ex-Tradycja
Release date: November 2008

01. Ой А На Яна Купала
02. Wojownik
03. Epopeja Wandalska
04. Latawce
05. Wily
06. Ой Ти, Петре, Петре
07. Czarodzielnica
08. Oko Dybuka
09. Psychoteka
10. Ballada O Glupim Wies³awie
11. Femina
12. Tywioдak
13. Oj Ty Janie Sobótkowy

Yeah yeah yeah, folk metal. We've heard it all before; some decent riffing with a violin on top or maybe extreme vocals followed by a polka accordion solo. The genre is totally played out, right? Not quite. Żywiołak, a Polish folk group, have completely broken the mold with their album Nowa Ex-Tradycja.

WARNING: Nowa Ex-Tradycja contains almost no metal. If you require your folk to come with a heavy helping of metal, stop reading and go back to blasting some Ensiferum or Finntroll.

As stated in the above disclaimer, Żywiołak have seemingly forsaken metal in all but a few sparse instances, and instead have replaced it with a masterful interplay of just about any European folk instrument you can think of: hurdy gurdy, flute, lute, viola, violin, etc. And like the best, or at least most respectable, folk acts, Żywiołak makes sure no one instrument takes center stage for too long or becomes little more than a gimmick (like oh so many folk metal bands seem to do). Rather, Żywiołak are more about creating a melancholic atmosphere than trying to differentiate themselves by using "x" instrument. The beautifully sung female vocals only accentuate this aspect of the band, helping to encompass the listener in an air of sorrow.

However, Żywiołak's music is not all doom and gloom. On a number of songs there is an essence of madness lurking behind every note. Not quite the absolute insanity of something like Le Grand Guignol but more along the lines of a group of witches cackling and dancing while cooking someone in a cauldron, only not as morbid. These songs actually get pretty fun, and it's hard to stop yourself from getting caught up in the madness now and again (see "Wily").

While Nowa Ex-Tradycja has a slew of positives, chiefly that it breaks from the generic folk mold and has a decent amount of variation from song to song, it does tend to get old after a while. That may sound like a complete contradiction, and I'd agree, but it's the truth. But, if, god forbid, you can stomach an album almost devoid of metal, then Żywiołak's Nowa Ex-Tradycja may just open your eyes to a new world of folk music.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9

Written by Marcus | 25.01.2012

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 14 users
12.02.2012 - 15:11
I didn't know these guys were popular outside Poland. Nice review
17.02.2012 - 21:17
Doit Like Bernie
Written by s7mon on 12.02.2012 at 15:11

I didn't know these guys were popular outside Poland. Nice review

Thanks! And I'm glad to hear they're popular somewhere; this is the first time I've heard someone else mention them.

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