The term blackened sludge alone told us to expect something dark and dirty from Polish band Mary and the Highwalkers. But what we encountered was something beyond our wildest dreams.
The Warsaw quartet mix heavy, low-tuned guitars and huge booming riffs with the thrillingly intense screamed vocals of frontwoman Rodya. We took a listen to Scars, from their debut album Hounds which was released in August, to get a taste for this uniquely dark and intense sound.
Scars opens up with chugging low bass and drums, then a piercing guitar sound drops into a delicious booming low-tuned guitar riff with huge cymbals underneath.
Edgy vocals come in over the top of plodding guitars, which pick up pace as the vocals intensify into wild screams. It soon drops into looping high-pitched guitars under more eerie vocals, then cymbals and a building sound culminate in a huge scream that lead into a big return of the opening riff. High-pitched vocals jump in over the top then lively riffs and pounding drums take us to an epic ending of booming guitar chords and wild, terrifying screams. It’s super-heavy and seriously good, give it a listen below:
We can’t get enough of the band’s debut album, from which the title track Hounds is also an absolute masterpiece of filthy sludgy goodness. It opens up with booming drawn-out, mega low-tuned guitar, and eventually bursts into life with a wild smash of fast low guitars and breakneck drums and cymbals.
You can tell they used to be instrumental, and could easily survive as such, but the eventual entry of Rodya’s wild, chilling vocals certainly top the sound off. Another barrage of heavy guitars and drums takes over, alongside some of the most insane high-pitched wailed vocals I’ve ever heard. It is so intense, but so so good! Give it a listen below:
The dark goodness just keeps on coming, including the epic near-eight-minute-long …What Sinners Will Pay For offering a little more melody while remaining high on the heaviness scale. It begins with light instrumentals that build up under Rodya’s light vocals and burst into driving guitars and pounding drums as Rodya’s vocals remain melodic.
But it drops into new realms of sludgy genius as huge double bass drum action drive it forwards into a mass of booming chords and a lively fat bassline. A big bouncy riff joins in the fun then Rodya’s vocals take a darker turn, before a funky little wah-infused guitar drops into more intense screams and doomy guitars.
A brief lull in the intensity eventually leads into a light guitar solo with increasingly heavy bass and drums building underneath. It all comes to a head with a smash of heavy ascending guitars, which drop into Ridya’s wild vocals over booming guitar. It’s superb, give it a listen below:
We’ve run out of superlatives, so we chatted to drummer Wuku to find out more about this exciting new band. Read on below…
GR: Who are Mary and the Highwalkers? And where are you from? What’s the backstory, how did you get together?
Wuku: “The history of M&TH goes back to Warsaw, Poland and the year of 2015, when together with Patryk and Maciej (Weedcraft) we created an instrumental stoner-doom project called Acidsloth. We spent almost two years smoking dope and jamming in our rehearsal place, travelling through other dimensions and not remembering any riffs from last rehearsal.
“We played on our own until the moment that Maciej had to leave the band because of the opportunity of working abroad. Malara stepped into his place around February 2017, and together filled with new energy we released an EP called Chapter One: Cognition – an instrumental, four-track album with interludes telling the story of Mary, terrified girl affected by demons or mental disease – we left this as a form of interpretation.
“All the interludes were recorded by our friends on iPhones, later edited by Patryk. It was totally DIY, we recorded, mixed and released this by ourselves. The idea of having a vocalist wasn’t with us from the very beginning – it appeared at the end of 2017 when we discovered Oathbreaker. I instantly fell in love with their music and I started thinking that would be great to add harsh, strong female vocal to our compositions. I agreed that with Patryk and Malara and posted on the Facebook group.
“Soon after, Rodya appeared on rehearsal and absolutely smashed us with her first scream. That was sufficient, she found a band and we found a vocalist. We started to create new material and rearranging old composition. A few months later, Patryk decided to leave M&TH because of a lack of time. Krzychu (from Bantha Rider) reached out to us soon after to ask if are we still looking for a guitarist. After the first rehearsal we all knew that he is on board. So, Mary and The Highwalkers are currently a four-piece band. Crew consists of Rodya, our vocalist, Malara – bassist, Krzychu – guitarist and me on drums, and we play in this setup from August 2018.”
GR: You just released Scars – it sounds awesome! What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
Wuku: “Thank you! We just want to play straight from the heart – influenced by bands that we are currently spinning, such as Battle of Mice, Whores or Brutus. The lyrics were written by Rodya, in which she described her experience related to her not very pleasant childhood memories. She never went into details, but it looks like she will still have something to tell.”
GR: And you mentioned an album coming up too? What should people be expecting from the album?
Wuku: “The album was released 15 August, it’s an occurrence of band activity through the last four years. That’s why you can find strong stoner/doom, psychedelic rock and even black metal influences. We shelveded our music as blackened sludge, but to be honest, we are not so sure how to properly name it. What should people be expecting? A solid portion of very dark, interesting piece of music, which in my opinion is quite original nowadays.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
Wuku: “Imagine that patients of mental-disorder clinic killed whole personnel, started a band and recorded album in empty, wet from blood corridors of hospital. That’s what about album said one of the polish reviewers haha. This is a solid, heavy portion of metal straight from Poland, with Russian influence.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
Wuku: “A life. It just so happened that all the lyrics were written by our vocalist and in each of them she tells a story of her own. In the texts, you can find memories of the fascination with occultism at a young age, and life in a foreign country, and even parting with a loved one. A very vital and emotional album, perhaps even feminine.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
Wuku: “Like I already mentioned: we are strongly influenced by Church of Ra (Amenra, Oathbreaker, Wiegedood), Brutus, GOLD, Conan and of course Black Sabbath. We are worshipping as well Eyehategod, Obscure Sphinx, Kapitan Bongo and Młody Dzban. Bands above are very important for our artistry, but first of all we want to play OUR music.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019? New music, new gigs, recording etc…?
“Gigs, and we want to play a lot of them. Currently, we have booked three dates in October but we are strongly looking for more. We want to do a small European tour at the beginning of next year, so stay tuned!”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
Wuku: “Smoke a bowl, pour some Russian vodka and spin it. You won’t regret.” (NOTE: GR does not promote drug use or Vodka consumption, unless you want to)