It should come as no surprise that the introspective sounds of post-metal resonate with artists in Belarus. In a nation of extreme censorship where a free media is non-existent and the incumbent dictator unwilling to relinquish one inch of power to the citizenry, Adliga understand that they must find an outlet for their claustrophobia and despair. What better way than in the maudlin darkness of avant-garde doom?
Artists denied a critical voice or basic liberties will always find a way to express their grief, and few do it better than this Minsk quintet. Opener ‘Vandroŭnik’ is a throbbing experiment in dissonant distortion and solemn violins coated in a noise bubble of progressive metal. The dichotomous slabs of aggression and introverted beauty give singer, Kate Sidelova, a perfect platform to showcase the majestic range of her soprano crooning and powerful throat voice while the guitars and drums labour underneath like underground conspirators ready to rise up against their oppressors at the first opportune moment. ‘Kali Pacіače Nіeba’ is just as captivating and determined to stay on the calmer side of agitation with its foreboding darkwave vibe. Romanian avant-garde metal act, Katharos XIII, are the first artist that come to mind, but the composition takes on a personality of its own in the emotional power of the opening verses. Here the layered guitars guide Sidelova’s voice like lanterns, stopping and starting between tempo changes yet always threatening to explode into a metallic onslaught that never arrives. It’s this tension that makes the music so captivating.
The dark ambient interludes in between the longer songs are just as effective and give this five-track EP the feel of an album. ‘Nakanavanne’ and ‘Buraviesnik’ are brooding instrumental compositions trapped in a dark vortex of keyboard atmospherics and pedal loops. No percussion exists here, just the shapeless voice of despair, like French duo Vous Autres. Close your eyes and you could be in a secluded cabin in the middle of the Belarussian forest away from the distressing politics of the capital. This is timeless music that speaks to people everywhere.
As a band that identifies with post-metal and doom, it’s inevitable they’ll have an appreciation for Neurosis, in this case the band’s 1992 classic, Souls at Zero. This explodes on closing track, ‘Boj’, which abandons the restrained aggression in favour of a more conventional audio assault of loud guitars and emotional wailing. It’s the type of music that makes you want to grab the soil between your fingers and fall to your knees in homage to the God you dare not believe in for reasons of shame and hypocrisy. Sidelova explores a mezzo-soprano voice reminiscent of Igorrr’s Laure Le Prunenec, but the guitar work of Uladzimir Burylau and Ignat Pomazkov steals the show. One utilises all six strings of the fret board to enhance the dissonance while the other operates in a doomier context. At eight minutes in length, this is the standout track of the EP and a wonderful example how you can take Joy Division and use their oppressive minimalism in a metallic framework.
We have no idea what the Belarusian lyrics mean, but the language of the music is a powerful mediator between listener and artist. Adliga paint black and grey soundscapes that suck you in but allow you to find your own meaning in the existential struggle of heart and head. Their next full-length album could see them breakout from their local scene and into the wider international underground.
Release Date: 01/12/2020
Record Label: Sliptrick Records
Standout tracks: Vandroŭnik, Boj
Suggested Further Listening: Katharos XIII – Palindrome (2019), Neurosis – Souls at Zero (1992), Rïcïnn – Nereïd (2020)