Since many retailers (including Amazon and the local record store that BIH and I frequent) have declared that MARCH IS METAL MONTH. I’ve been listening to a bit more metal than usual recently.1 This led to quite an odd musical discovery. The other day I was poking around Reddit’s r/metal board when someone posted a link to a demo that he2 claimed was a total gem. It was by a Polish thrash metal band from the mid-1990s called Tormentor (not to be confused with the seminal Hungarian black metal band Tormentor).3
After listening to the demo, I have to say that I agree with the original poster’s assessment of the recordings. The lead guitar is really rad, but the vocals aren’t great and on most tracks they’re too high in the mix. The thing is, though, that completely misses the best part of the demo.
That would be the Fiddler on the Roof cover.
The demo, in fact, features three covers over it’s six song length. Well, technically the only true “cover” in the bunch is the last song, a cover of Joe Satriani’s “Midnight.” The other two are songs that feature the incorporation of elements of other songs. The first instance comes in the intro to “Nie bêdê”4 that is taken from Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.” While a bit surprising, this move is not without precedent. Metal has always been tied to classical music, and Megadeth even incorporated parts of the same Bach piece into their song “Last Rites / Loved to Death.”
But, the really weird part is when they suddenly riff on “If I Were a Rich Man” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof in the middle of above track, “Boją siê.” It works surprisingly well as a thrash riff.5 The only question that I still have is to why the band chose to use it.
Translating the song’s title from Polish to English renders it “They are afraid,” which doesn’t exactly mesh perfectly with the themes in the original “If I Were a Rich Man.” And that’s about where the clues end. The only other information on the band that the archives at Encyclopaedia Metallum can provide is that the band changed their name to Sleep-Walker and recorded one more demo (which I can’t find anywhere) before breaking up. There is nothing I can do, short of flying to Poland and tracking down the band’s members, to learn anything more. No lyrics I can understand, no interviews, no critiques, nothing.
It is very likely that neither I nor anyone else will never know why this Polish thrash metal band decided to include a bit of a song about a Jewish milkman’s dreams of being wealthy in Czarist Russia in their song titled “They Are Afraid.”
Maybe they just really loved Broadway musicals.
You can download Tormentor’s Demo ‘95 for free right here.
1. Although, I am still listening to significantly less metal than BIH does on a regular basis. RealTalk2012.
2. Even though I don’t definitively know the user’s gender, it was post on Reddit about metal. There’s only like a 2% chance that it was made by a girl.
Also, hypothesis: maybe the members of mid-90s Polish thrash-metal band Tormentor are Jewish? Speaking from experiencei, I can testify that Fiddler On The Roof (film and stage production) is required viewing for those of us in the tribe.
i. Experience as a Jewish person, not as a member of mid-90s Polish thrash-metal band Tormentor.