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Polish Black Metal Band Zmarlym Discusses New Album, Home Country And More

If you’ve never heard of Zmarlym, put this beauty on in another tab while you read the interview below.

Zmarlym only recently popped up on my radar. I listen to several Polish metal bands (Vader, Behemoth, Gruzja, Batushka--the first version anyway, Kriegsmaschine, Belzebong, Decapitated, Mgla, Truchlo Strzygi, etc.). Maybe I listen to more Polish metal than any other country other than Denmark? Anyway, Zmarlym's new album was probably randomly selected by Youtube for me to listen to because of all of these other Polish bands I appreciate. I was immediately hooked. You don't really sound like any other Polish bands that I know of, although there are occasional hints of Behemoth, Mgla, and Gruzja I suppose. Can you tell me more about the band's origin, members, and the making of your recently released first full-length album Druga Fala?

Andrew: The band Zmarlym was formed in early 2018 at the initiative of me and Mlody, who is also a drummer in another polish band Hegemoon. Me and Mlody were playing together in other bands before, so we know each other well. We invited our friend Marcin to this new project, and so it began. Material on the EP Ziemie Jalowe was created very quickly--in just few months--but for a variety of circumstances, we didn’t released it until September 2020 despite it being recorded in early 2018. In the meantime, we worked on new material, and I have to say, that before the start of the pandemic, we had composed maybe 75% of the music for the new record. But Druga Fala doesn’t contain any songs created during that time…

Since March 2020, initially due to the situation related to Covid-19 but later also influenced by other reasons, we haven’t had a place to have rehearsals. So the band was in some kind of coma. It’s not revelatory, if I would say that this was a very rough time, probably every person in the world felt some kind of depression in this time. After a few months of inactivity, which I really hated, I started to regularly play guitar again. Then the first sounds that you can hear on our debut album appeared. And I have to tell you that we did not plan to create any new music, it just happened. I mean literally, from the first riff from the first track on
Druga Fala haha, that’s exactly where it started.

So I decided to talk with the other bands members. I sent them a demo of the first song, and we decided that we wouldn't let the fact that we didn't have a rehearsal room stop us. Instead we decided to create some music remotely--just by sending files to each other. It was the very first time when we were working that way, and it was a challenging expeerience, but we were determined to do it. Why didn't we decide to finish the previous material I mentioned above? We couldn't even imagine working on that material without regular rehearsals, and that wasn't an option as it was a completely different concept.

Going back to the topic of new material that we started writing that eventually turned into
Druga Fala, this was supposed to be maybe three songs at most, released as an EP. We just wanted to get through this hard time doing something creative and then come back to the material that we orginally were working on and finish it. But the more we worked on this new stuff, the more the music sucked us in, the concept got bigger and bigger, until finally we realized it wasn't going to be just an EP; it was becoming a whole album. And that’s how it happened.

What bands have influenced Zmarlym?

A: There are a lot of bands that we were listening to, and the more I think about it… the more I don’t know how to answer the question, haha! But I can tell you some names, but this will be just the tip of the iceberg. And these are not only metal, or black metal, bands. So for sure Mayhem, Burzum, early Satyricon, Emperor, Furia, Lux Occulta (you should really check them out, they are non active at this moment but albums like a
My Guardian Anger and The Mother and The Enemy are just fucking brilliant!) but also Pink Floyd, Archive, Massive Attack, and many many others, including some electronic or even hip-hop stuff.

On the other hand, I think that Zmarlym is influenced not only by music, but also by other areas of art--like film etc. For me a big influence would be the work of David Lynch, his extraordinary approach to creation, his courage to combine often seemingly contradictory elements into one bizarre, but still coherent, vision.

I called Zmarlym "proggy psychedelic black metal" when talking to a friend, but it's even more than that. Druga Fala is incredibly varied, which is especially rare for a band's first album I think. How would you describe the band's sound or genre?

A: I really don’t know, and I have to say that we weren't spending too much time on thinking about it. If I read that someone calls our music progressive black metal, it’s good, but it is not so important for us. When we are creating music, we don’t think about locking it in some kind of genre borders or anything like that. We just follow the ideas which are coming to us and let ourselves be led by these ideas.

When we were setting up our profile on bandcamp I was wondering how to add a tag for our music besides the obvious one "black metal". In the end we added the tag "post black metal", but I have no idea if it really has much to do with what we play. Haha

I visited Poland for the first time in 2021. I spent time in Krakow, Posnan, and Warsaw--seeing a few shows along the way. I want to go back in 2022 and visit some new places including Gdansk. Do you have any "must-see" locations for foreigners like myself who visit Poland?

A: You actually listed most of the most important places, haha! But if you wanted to really get to know our country, you should just hit the road and drive somewhere away from those bigger, more famous cities. Go through the Swietokrzyskie province for example; just drive around a town like Skarzysko Kamienna or Konskie, and then maybe you would see one of the reasons why there are so many black metal bands in our country, haha! If you actually happen to be there, don't stay there for long. The climate of abandonment, collapse, and depression could consume you so much, that the subsequent therapy could be very expensive and time consuming.

Many countries have some great metal bars. I've been to some in Japan, Denmark, Czech, and the UK. I couldn't find any in Poland. Do they exist and if so, where? Can you tell us more about the Polish metal scene?

A: I don't know too many such bars in Poland. Yes, there are some, but they seem to have more of a rock/metal character than a pure metal one, like for example Od Zmierzchu Do Switu in Wroclaw or Voodoo Club in Warsaw. Moreover, some of these bars collapsed financially during the pandemic.

What’s your favorite album from 2020? 2021?

A: There were so many great albums that it's really hard for me to choose just one. But if I have to, in 2020 it would probably be
Rzeczom by Polish Odraza. As for 2021, it's not over yet, and I'm not able to choose a favorite album at the moment. Ask me in 2022, haha!

What are your touring and future recording plans?

A: We would definitely like to start playing concerts as soon as possible. However, the rehearsal room problems I mentioned earlier have delayed everything. We've only recently started rehearsing, and we are working hard to present the new material live soon.

Thanks a lot for the interview! Greetings to all Metal Undergound readers!

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