These guys are goddamn odd. Combining elements of Math-core in the vein of MESHUGGAH with guttural Death Metal instincts while boiling both in a thick broth of Hardcore; this band fabricates a rather unique sound which contains a hint of brutality along with a mish-mash of other emotions and dimensions. While that may sound good in theory (or not) it comes across as quite inconsistent in practice. At times this band can be blazing away behind their guitars, revelling in technical ecstasy with unrelenting riffs…and then there are those other moments, which incidentally fill up more than 75% of the album, where the band is just a plodding lacklustre wounded animal hopping along on one leg while embracing emo and forcibly depressed to an extent that its furry little companions will go nowhere near it; such is ZUBROWSKA.
When this album is not weak it can be enjoyable. As I have mentioned these moments are not all too common but will hit you when you least expect it. The opening riff to “Pay To Play” is absolutely excellent until the vocals ruin it and much of the stop start riffing of “Cause I Just Can Love Some Dead Persons” is somewhat strong. The deep guttural vocals utilized are effective but its two brothers, Mr. Clean and Hardcore, are utterly revolting (more on these later). The technical ability displayed is also somewhat impressive, but only if one can look past the song structures and compositions themselves. There are some pretty crazy riffs thrown about as well as those insane time signatures and tempo changes. This paragraph is the whole of praise ZUBROWSKA will get from this reviewer and it is necessary to point out the whole is in no way greater than the sum of its parts in this instance.
Let me tell you a secret: this album was born into oppression the minute it was birthed. Throw it in and give opener “From Hell” a listen. Hell, you do not even need to listen past the first 10 seconds. You hear those ear-grating clean vocals which kick off immediately? Of course you do, how could you miss such a nail being driven through your skull? Someone needed to give these guys a solid blow to the chops and a friendly reminder that if you cannot sing then you in fact should not. It is that simple, really. Your voice sucks, then don’t force it on the listener like vomit through the ear canal. Besides the two vocal styles I have already mentioned (Clean and Brutal), there is a distinct third presence; that of an emo tinged teen screaming his lungs out. The Hardcore presence, as I have stated, lies blurry between the lines of both genres. This is both outright oppressive as well as depressive. When Clod gets to those unrelenting hellish parts (check “In The House Of The 7 Dead”) he gives us all a taste of what Varg would sound like if he fell to the sweeping blade of emo. The vocals are over the top in a bad way. Over the top only works when it knocks you on your ass and leaves you wanting more.
The actual riffs found on “Family Vault” are nothing spectacular. A riff here or there will catch your attention and place the inkling of a smirk upon your face only to have it wiped cruelly away by a decidedly poor riff or melody. Much of the technical upkeep is boring and about as effective against a foe as a water gun. Furthermore, if any of the music prompted enough interest to have you check out the song titles you will continue to become impressed. With inventive and witty names like “Maniac Rockers From Darkness”, “Vampire Killin’ Kit” and the crowd favourite “Cause I just Can Love Some Dead Persons”, these guys are sure to succeed. This one is to be avoided unless you are simply looking for something different, although there is much better “different” out there than ZUBROWSKA. (Online October 2, 2005)