Bands change over time, and there's nothing that can be done about it. Sometimes the result is a dreadful mass of fecal matter ("Cold Lake" anyone ?), other times it's acceptable, and on the rare occasion, a band might actually change for the better (although die-hard fans may still disagree and wish for "the old days"). Kat were once Poland's speed metal answer to Accept - a fast, dirty band with twin guitar attacks and shredding vocals, and a touch of old school black metal imagery thrown in for good measure...they were also pretty influential on a lot of younger Polish bands (one look at the "Czarne Zastepy" tribute album released by Pagan Records can confirm this), but how does the Kat of today stand up against the same band that released "Metal and Hell" back in the early 1986 ? Not very well I'm afraid. I haven't followed the band since the mid-eighties (Polish only releases aren't exactly the easiest thing to come by where I live), but the Kat that recorded "Ballady" (dated 1993) bears absolutely no resemblance to the Kat of old. Gone are the Udo-like sandpaper vocals, the twin-guitar melodies, and the frantic pace - in it's place, we have what I can only describe as "Kat pulling a Paradise Lost" - mid paced gothic-tinged traditional metal with a passing nod to a certain band who's been releasing a "LOAD" (pun intended) of shit for the latter half of their career. To be fair, Kat haven't gone quite as far as those bands - they're still 100% metal (albeit of a different brand, although done VERY well), and in a few places here and there I did hear some creepings of their mighty past (such as the vocals on track 6, "Czas Zemsty"), but this just isn't what I expected (or wanted) from a Kat album (with the exception of the album artwork - nothing says "metal" like a scantily clad blonde babe locked inside an oversized bird cage). It's sad really - they were once a highly underrated band that deserved better - now they're just another in an over crowded genre of "me too!" bands. Kat fanatics might want to seek this out, as might those who just can't seem to get enough epic traditional metal with goth flavourings - but I'm going to turn off the lights, throw "Metal and Hell" on at full volume, and pretend that it's 1986 all over again...those were the days...

2000 chorazaim