Behind the Music – The Story of Polish Metal Bands

I can tell that the roots of metal bands from Poland reach far back in time, specifically to the transition between the 70s and 80s. We’ve got our metal icons with a rich discography and a crowd of loyal fans. However, there’s always room for new, extremely interesting projects. Our list of the best Polish metal bands includes those who have already worn out many picks on guitar strings, as well as younger bands, often representing interesting metal concepts.

Delving into Poland’s Heavy Metal History

Heavy metal music, which originated in Great Britain and the United States, soon made its way to Poland. This genre quickly became a popular form of expression and a means to fight against the political system in the country.

The 1980s – The Early Days

During the late 1970s, heavy metal emerged in Poland as a voice of opposition to the existing regime. One of the first rebellious groups in Poland was Mech, a band from Warsaw. Despite their initial success, Mech didn’t have a lasting impact on Polish metal music.

I suggest that you read more about the regime in this article: How Poland Became Communist After WWII?

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I believe the most important performers of Polish heavy metal in the 1980s were groups like TSA, Lord Vader (initially known as Fatum), Turbo, Vader, and KAT. Alongside them, bands like Fatum, Dragon, Destroyers, Wolf Spider, STOS, Hellias, Hammer, Exorcist, and Imperator played. TSA stuck to pure heavy metal, Turbo experimented with various styles, and KAT straddled the line between traditional heavy metal and black metal (due to their unintelligible vocals).

However, Polish heavy metal bands soon faced criticism for allegedly promoting Satan worship and violence. Many people also considered their music somewhat primitive, with weak vocals. TSA suffered the most from this reputation. Most bands of that era performed at the famous Jarocin concert.

The 1990s – A Time of Change

I need to say that the 1990s brought significant changes to the Polish metal music scene. Many older bands (except for KAT) either suspended their activities or disbanded altogether. In the early 1990s, bands like Sweet Noise, Acid Drinkers, and Behemoth emerged, with Behemoth becoming the first Polish metal band to achieve international success. In 1995, Hunter rose from the underground, releasing their successful debut album, Requiem.

21st Century – The Modern Era

The advent of the new millennium did not mark the end of Polish heavy metal. Instead, new bands continued to emerge and gain popularity. Some of these bands, such as Hunter, Acid Drinkers, Vader, Behemoth, and Frontside, have been recording for years, providing fans with memorable experiences. These bands have performed at major music events and released critically acclaimed albums, proving that Polish heavy metal is alive and well.

The Best Polish Metal Bands

So what are the most important metal bands in Poland? Here are most known and famous one bands that are worth to know.

KAT (Pioneers of Polish Metal)

I think it’s worth mentioning the forerunners of heavy music in Poland. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the absolute first in the music scene, many believe that Polish metal was born in Katowice. That’s where guitarist Piotr Luczyk and drummer Ireneusz Loth decided to play like Metallica. Their influence can be clearly heard on the band’s first albums.

KAT Band – Polish Metal

In their early years, KAT had to win over listeners of heavy sounds, but today they are considered legends of Polish metal. After the departure of Roman Kostrzewski, KAT underwent changes and now plays a more modern variety of metal. You can experience the group’s evolution by comparing their loud, debut album „Metal And Hell” to their latest work, „The Last Convoy,” where the band’s greatest songs are re-arranged.

Turbo (One of the Big Three)

Along with TSA and KAT, Turbo is considered one of the Big Three of Polish Metal. They are another representative of the first wave of the genre in Poland, perhaps with the most significant musical achievements. Songs like the ballad „Dorosłe dzieci” are remembered by many listeners. On their first albums, you can hear the influence of Iron Maiden, and even a special dedication to the English group on the albumSmak Ciszy”

Turbo Band – Polish Heavy Metal

Their album „Satan’s Cavalry” was more heavy metal and proved to be a turning point in the band’s history. Over the years, Turbo has experienced numerous personnel changes and even temporarily suspended their activities. Their latest studio album, „Piąty Element” was released in 2014, and in 2020, they celebrated their 40th anniversary on the music scene with the release of the album „Greatest Hits”.

Vader (From Speed Metal to Thrash Metal)

Vader, another great Polish metal band, started in the first half of the 1980s playing aggressive speed metal. But under the influence of bands like Slayer, they turned to thrash metal, creating music that borders on thrash and death metal.

Vader Band from Poland – Heavy Metal Scene

Vader is one of the first Polish metal bands to go international. They recorded in English from the beginning, which quickly opened doors for their global career. Their debut album, „The Ultimate Incantation”, appeared in Europe, the USA, and even Japan. To this day, Vader remains a recognizable brand among metal fans worldwide, with their latest album, „Solitude In Madness”, released in 2020.

Decapitated (The Hope of Polish Death Metal)

The popularity of Vader fueled interest in metal music in Poland. They inspired many later bands, including Decapitated, who made an excellent debut at the turn of the century and were quickly hailed as the hope of Polish death metal. The Kiełtyka brothers, Wacław and Witold, were responsible for creating Decapitated.

Decapitated – Polish Metal Band

Their career was gaining momentum, and only a few years after their debut album, they were playing alongside legends like Tool and Slayer. Decapitated’s progress was halted by a tragic accident in 2007, resulting in Witold’s death and the band suspending its activities. They returned two years later with a new lineup, and today, the band’s star is Wacław Kiełtyka. The guitarist enjoys international recognition, evidenced by Vogg joining Machine Head and playing alongside Robb Flynn during the band’s European tour. Their latest album, „Cancer Culture,” was released in May.

Behemoth (The Most Recognizable Polish Metal Band Abroad)

Vader and Decapitated are undoubtedly international representatives of Polish metal, but the most recognizable band outside the country is currently Behemoth. Adam Darski’s band recently celebrated its 30th anniversary on stage. Over the years, Nergal and his bandmates have evolved from beginner musicians experimenting with black metal to the first Polish band whose release in 2007 appeared on the cult Billboard sales list.

Behemoth – Click Play To Listen to The Band

Behemoth has been featured in publications like The New York Times and British Kerrang! magazine. Nergal himself was listed among the top twenty best death metal guitarists by Decibel Magazine. The band’s popularity isn’t only due to their excellent music but also their provocative image. From the beginning, they’ve openly expressed their anti-Christian views, making it impossible for many to remain indifferent to their work. Nergal has become the first Polish metal celebrity.

This fall, Behemoth will make headlines for artistic reasons, thanks to the release of their latest album „Opvs Contra Natvram.” Nergal assures fans that this is the most mature and refined project the band has ever undertaken, representing the next step in their artistic journey.

Batushka (A Unique Blend of Black Metal and Orthodox Doctrine)

Batushka, a much younger but extremely interesting musical project, is a black metal band from Bialystok that bases their work on Orthodox doctrine. Their signature element is their sacral styling. Church bells often introduce their songs, and albums and concerts feature Orthodox icons, with the musicians performing in priestly attire.

Batushka Band – Polish Heavy Metal

In addition to their semi-sacred music, Batushka also offers listeners sublime lyrics, blending regional languages like Chachłacki and Old Church Slavonic. Batushka rose to fame in 2015 with their album „Litourgiya” and released their second album, „Hospodi,” in 2019, which is available in a striking silver vinyl record.

Nocny Kochanek (The Self-proclaimed „Traitors of Metal”)

Nocny Kochanek, or Night Lover, calls themselves „traitors of metal,” but their impressive output makes it impossible to leave them off this list. Musically, their talent is undeniable, with top-notch guitar riffs and impeccable execution. What sets Nocny Kochanek apart is their song content. Instead of the usual nihilism or anti-Christian themes, their songs mostly focus on love and mundane pleasures, often presented with a humorous twist.

Nocny Kochanek – Polish Metal Band

This musical path has led to a polarized fanbase, with some traditional metal followers disapproving and others enjoying the humor infused in their metal music. If you want to listen to Nocny Kochanek’s unique style, check out their latest material, „O jeden most za daleko” where you’ll hear a cross-section of rock and metal genres musically, and lyrically… well, it’ll be as fun as always.