You know me: I love progressive rock from Poland. There is just something about their typically dark and melancholy style that I love. I recently discovered Here On Earth, and they just so happened to be releasing a new album shortly thereafter. That album is “Thallium” and it releases on October 19th. While it may not contain all the hallmarks of “Progski”, this is an album that is rock solid to the core.
Here On Earth hails from Katowice, Poland. The band consists of Krzysztof Wróbel on vocals, Bart Niestrój and Piotr Krasek on guitars, Przemek Nowakowski on bass, Dawid Czekirda on keys, and Krzysztof Cudny on drums. The band calls themselves alternative/progressive rock, and I think this is a pretty good description. Let me delve into that a bit more.
The musical style draws on the darker prog rock that Poland is known to produce. While the album is certainly atmospheric and dreamy, it is also heavier than most Polish prog, reminding me of early Votum. That means that the guitar work is chunky and riff-based much of the time, featuring lots of distortion and wistful finger work, and not so much in the way of soloing. There is a sense that Tool is quite the influence in this area, and I think the late 90s/early 00s alternative rock scene is generally an influence here, too. Like I said, though, the album is definitely atmospheric, and the glowing keys and shoegaze-style finger work are what produce this the most.
“Thallium” is a robust release. Some songs don’t quite stick as much as others, but when the music is strong, it’s really strong. So, while some songs might feel a little bland, others are rather inspired and will grip you tightly. Many times, the blander songs particularly have more cumbersome or stumbling guitars, and that sets the tone for the song.
The lyrics seem to center on the poisonous tendencies in modern society, especially ones passed down from the previous generation. Thallium is an element that does not appear free in nature, and was even used as a poison in the books of Agatha Christie. It can be used to poison someone’s drink unbeknownst to the victim, for example. I think all of that reveals the nature of the lyrics quite well, as they describe practices or attitudes that we pass on to our children without their knowledge that can then end up poisoning their lives and our world. These things are not natural, but are reflections of corruption inside humanity itself.
Each song here is enjoyable at the very least, especially in light of the lyrical content. The first three tracks are quite strong, but I would specifically point to tracks 4-6 as running together and feeling a bit unwieldy. The last four tracks are something of a mixed bag, but there are definitely memorable moments scattered throughout them. One thing I noticed about this band’s style is that they aren’t very emotional, which is quite unlike most Polish prog. As a result, there aren’t those defining moments that you will remember forever because of how they made you feel. That can lead to an album that feels a bit the same from beginning to end.
Four of the tracks are standouts for me. “Out of the Blue” is a great opener with some very haunting vocal lines. “Believers and Liars” is another strong track with some particularly hefty riffing and an addictive central guitar lick. I love the fantastically spectral instrumental near the end. “Laniakea” might be the catchiest song on the album, featuring a melancholy chorus with a brightly shining central melody. My favorite is probably “Dream Walk”, the most ambient and spacious song on the album. It has a bit of a shoegaze feel to it at points, and I love the background keys. It feels almost celestial, but in a darker way than usual, if that makes sense.
“Thallium” is overall a great release with some truly exceptional moments. The rougher, more distorted take on dark Polish prog is something that feels a bit more like 2008 than 2018, but I admire the band for making what they love. This is definitely an album that will grow on you, and the atmosphere can truly take you away to shadowy places. If you love Riverside, Votum, or any number of Polish proggers, you should give this album a try.
Find Here on Earth online: