Most of you know my affinity for Polish prog. I love the dark, melancholy nature of the progressive rock that seems to be such a touchstone in that country. That said, I receive promos from Polish bands pretty much every week, and most of them just don’t have that spark to set them apart from the others. I think SubLunar is different. Their debut “A Welcome Memory Loss” released on June 17th, and I am finding myself enjoying it quite a bit.
As I said, SubLunar hails from Poland. The band consists of Łukasz Dumara on vocals, Michał Jabłoński and Marcin Pęczkowski on guitars, Jacek Książek on bass, and Łukasz Wszołek on drums. You will notice that the band does not have a keyboardist, but does have two guitarists. That will give you some idea of the overall tone of the music.
Yes, this is Polish prog through and through. The music is dark and atmospheric with hefty bass lines, though you will find the guitar work to have more edge to it than some of their fellow Polish bands. Instead of psychedelia, the band leans more towards the steely sound of 00’s Porcupine Tree. I think this is to their benefit, too, as their guitars drive both the heavier and more emotional parts of their sound. Some tracks do display the high strung, emotional guitar sustains that you might expect.
The lyrics, too, are surreal and introspective, as expected. I do not know the specifics about the concept, or even if there is a concept. However, the lyrics are well written, intensely personal, and quite creative in the metaphor department. You will hear all sorts of lyrics about brokenness, fear, loneliness, and attempts to escape the past. Yes, I love that sort of thing, and I love how descriptive the writing is.
One thing that draws me to this band is the x-factor, something you can barely describe. The band has a tendency to subtle choruses, rather than giant hooks, and their sounds bounce, stutter, and flow organically, almost contrary to belief. The band simply has a good sound, excellent writing abilities, and grit to back up everything.
Most of the tracks on the album have a very strong atmospheric element at play, such as the following emotions of the excellent “Invisible”. Some stand above the others, though. “Debris” starts the album powerfully. You will hear some familiar sounds that you might find in some other Polish bands, but the band soon lets their own personality show. The guitars near the end are sublime. “Square One” is the first song on the album that will really get your head moving. It feels slightly playful, or maybe wistful, but it is catchy either way.
My favorite songs are in the second half. “43%” is nice and bass-driven, not to mention abstract. It might be my favorite track on the album for all the whispering and intangible ideas. “Suspension of Disbelief” is a thirteen-minute track that ends the album. It does not try to be some over-the-top epic, but is instead very personal and close, though the chorus is gripping and rather grand.
Overall, SubLunar has a debut that is more than just solid. “A Welcome Memory Loss” separates itself from the pack of Polish promos I get weekly by focusing on strong writing, quality instrumentals, and emotional lyrics. I really do hope to see this band blow my mind on their next record.