DRAGON - Horda Goga (WIFON - LP 1989)
I hope that this review shall remind you – and to some, this review will probably only introduce – an album, which I think is quite forgotten nowadays. So maybe it is a time to bring attention to it again, as it deserves it totally! Personally I consider this debut album of Dragon as one of the best Polish albums recorded in the 80’s and more so, together with Kat’s “Oddech wymarłych swiatów” (which will always be my number one of the 80’s!), it is in my top two. So, here I have this old vinyl version released by Wifon and every time I play it, it is just a pure slaughter! Of course some may prefer the English version of “Horda Goga”, titled “Horde of Gog”, which was released a year later … but I guess it doesn’t matter. Actually I’m thinking and really I can’t remember if I have ever even heard the English version? Why bother? Well, interesting fact about both versions is that each was recorded with a different vocalist - “Horde of Gog” was recorded with Grzegorz Kupczyk from Turbo, not by Marek Wojcieski, who you can hear on “Horda Goga”. More so, the rumour says that the band didn’t even know that the label made Kupczyk record English versions of the vocals hehe! Hardly believable these days, but back in the 80’s everything was possible. So, I don’t even care about “Horde of Gog”, I just play “Horda Goga” and enjoy some truly awesome songs! And trust me, there are nine killer tunes on this vinyl!
First thing, which you’ll notice is the total old school artwork! It is typical 80’s heavy metal cover, you know… dragons, executioners, death… All these fantasy artworks look killer though! And then the music! “Horda Goga” is a thrash / death metal masterpiece, bursting with aggression and energy, with killer, razor sharp riffs, which will cut you deep and great atmosphere, characteristic for these early extreme metal records. And especially in Poland, such sort of thrash / death had its own charm and was something very characteristic, something what later was never repeated… You know, listen to the early demo recordings of such Vader, Armagedon, Merciless Death, Thanatos or Manslaughter – they all have something in common. They were unique in their own way, with the typical raw Polish production, killer thrashing riffs mixed with early death metal aggression, fantastic harsh vocals… And “Horda Goga” is another fine and exact example for that! More so (as I already mentioned) for me it is together with “Oddech wymarłych swiatów”, the best 80’s Polish metal album! So amazing!
When you listen to “Horda Goga” today you feel how archaic this LP is! This is a real relict of the ancient times, of the early extreme metal scene and you know, today no one plays like this anymore. Show me a band, who would have such sound, such riffs and ideas and more so, who would have vocals like that! Because vocals on “Horda Goga” are of the best and most characteristic things of it! Marek Wojcieski did excellent job here, singing some brilliant parts and mixing harsh screams, growls with clean vocals… Clean vocals, used mainly in choruses, are something, what you’ll remember especially. They sound bloody awesome. Wojcieski sometimes reminds me Roman Kostrzewski, but it is just another quality. And the effect is amazing, if you listen to such songs as “Wieczne odpoczywanie, “Beliar” or “Armagedon”. Musically, you can think of the 80’s thrash metal, of bands like Kat, Turbo, Merciless Death, mixed with some Possessed, “Show No Mercy” era Slayer, some vintage Metallica and the German monsters like Kreator and Destruction… Finally there’s also a feeling, which reminds me some South American extreme bands from late 80’s / early 90’s! But here it is aggressive thrash / death metal played in the East European way! But it is not just that! The arrangements, song structures are just impossibly good. A lot of killer riffs, which are aggressive, but often also melodic, so they remind me even some early Metallica (like the opening theme in “Here Comes the Dragon”)… The whole stuff is wonderfully composed, sounds perfect and it’s also memorable as hell; you’ll remember some of these choruses immediately and sing them next time! Personally I like song titled “Beliar” the most, because it seems to be the most vicious and dark track, with killer chorus: “Beliar – sługa Diabła!!!”. Damn good! “Kapłani zdrady” also belongs to these faster and more aggressive tunes, finally also “Wieczne odpoczywanie”, “Armagedon” (that opening theme actually reminds me some epic Bathory hehe! I LOVE IT!) are phenomenal. But all songs are killer, really.
“Horda Goga” is the best achievement of Dragon, in my opinion. Although back in the early 90’s I was more a fan of “Fallen Angel”, but nowadays this album bores me a little and is just not as good as “Horda Goga”. So, I totally recommend you listening to this Dragon debut LP, as it is unique and amazing piece of thrash death metal, one which just must be in your collection. To get the vinyl is very simple and cheap, so what are you waiting for?
Standout tracks: “Beliar”, “Wieczne odpoczywanie”, “Armagedon”, “Kapłani zdrady”
Final rate: 90/100