In 2016, I put Georgius’ “String Theory” as my favorite album of the year. I had never heard a solo album from Jerzy Antczak before then, but had obviously heard of Albion, a legendary band in their own right. Jerzy has been busy with Albion once again, and the results are truly stunning. “You’ll Be Mine” released on September 22nd, and is yet another strong entry in dark Polish prog this year.
Albion have been around for a long time, since at least 1992. It seems like they tend to release two albums per decade, as they released two in the 90s, two in the 00s, and this new album makes two for the 10s. “You’ll Be Mine”, however, does mark the return of original singer Anna Batko, who had left the band back in the 90s. The rest of the band includes: Jerzy Georgius Antczak on guitars and keys, Paweł Konieczny on bass, and and Rafał Paszcz on drums and loops programming.
The musical style here is again the darker style of Polish prog that I so love. Albion offers a bit more in the way of synth musings, loops, and even electronic accents than other Polish bands, but the results are every bit as melancholy, moody, and murky as you might expect. I would say that there is less “alternative” and more “Prog” in Albion’s sound, and imaginative song structures are certainly commonplace here. One thing I love about this band is the purposeful departure from normal song structures. Their music is more of a lasting vapor, an experience of detachment from reality.
Of course, with Jerzy on board, the guitar work is absolutely stellar, featuring solos that feel as if they should create actual smoke when played live. He is definitely becoming one of my favorite guitarists ever. His genius is also felt in the fantastic keyboard solos and backdrops that give this entire album a layer of emotion and haze, but I especially love when a deliberate keyboard melody leads the way for a song. Paweł’s bass offers the vibrant power that really pays off, and Rafał’s drumming offers oomph and muscle where needed. Anna has a voice that brings this all together with artistry and effect. Her control is impressive as she sings some haunting and chilling vocal lines.
“You’ll Be Mine” flows naturally and evocatively. It is only about 42 minutes long, so it is over before you realize it, which is a good thing in my opinion. The experience is powerful, both lyrically and musically, and it will leave you with a last impression and some shivers running down your spine. It really is a touching and evocative affair, and your body will react.
I have four favorites on this album that I want to discuss. First, “Call It a Sin” kicks off the album with style and a kinetic ending instrumental that sounds amazing. It is only about 3 minutes long, but feels potent. “Does Anybody Count?” is another favorite. I love the percussive loop throughout this song, and also the soothing keyboard lead. Jerzy offers another intense guitar solo that forms the center of the song, as well.
The title track is, in a word, magnificent. The atmosphere is thick, the melancholy is strong, and the percussion gives it this gloomy feeling. It is ghostly, shadowy, and superbly conceived. “Hell” ends the album with sobering and poignant sounds, some of them rather unsettling. The tension builds up to one last monster solo from Jerzy near the end.
Albion has released an effective and flowing album that will rivet you. “You’ll Be Mine” feels cold but emotional, melancholy yet vivid, and wandering but purposeful. From the looping to the concentrated soloing, the album has a mesmerizing quality to it that will leave you engrossed until the very end. If this album doesn’t impress you, I don’t what will.
Find Albion online:
Ania Batko is not a new singer. She started wit the band in early 90s. She was a singer on the “red” album self titled Albion…
Thank you. Someone else pointed that out, and I have updated it