Review – Amarok – Hope

Polish progressive rock outfit Amarok were founded in 1999 by Michał Wojtas, taking on various forms over the course of the next twenty-five years. Their early works had strong influences from the likes of Mike Oldfield (the name of the band was taken from the title of one of his albums) and Pink Floyd. Later, the sound began to evolve with a more ambient nature, along with elements of folk – and it was then that the original, unique character of the band began to take shape. For many years the band’s core was Michał along with Marta Wojtas but, since 2020, it has been a four piece with Konrad Zieliński (drums) and Kornel Popławski (bass and violin). 2024 sees the release of the this, band’s seventh album, ‘Hope‘, after a three year hiatus. It contains ten ambitious, high-level compositions, developed over two decades and it will not disappoint fans, new or old!

I’ve been a big fan of this band for quite a few years now and this new album just cements Amarok as one of the seminal Polish progressive rock bands out there, up there with Riverside at the top of the pile in my opinion. Their musical style fluctuates throughout their discography and throughout this album but the core and the centrepiece that holds everything together is Michał’s stunning guitar playing. His amazing guitar bleeds emotion and sounds like it is almost talking to you, all the while surrounded by the dense, complex and primeval wall of of sound created by the epic rhythm section of Konrad and Kornel.

There is still more than a hint of Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield to the band’s sound but they now have a sophisticated and mature sound that is unique to them, fans of the band will instantly recognise that this is an Amarok release from the first few notes of opening track Hope Is, an almost technical and industrial vibe coming from the bass and distorted guitars. Marta’s dominant spoken word piece demanding attention in a truly hypnotic way and the keyboards washing over you majestically. Michał’s compelling guitar solo is the icing on the cake, vibrant and awe inspiring. Stay Human takes a more wistful and nostalgic path, the music and vocals pared back and withdrawn in delivery. The delicately plucked guitar adding suitable pathos to the calm atmosphere before the track opens up into something much more dynamic and impulsive, an intelligently created piece of music that echoes in your mind long after it has gone. One of my favourite pieces on the album, Insomnia is Amarok at their very best, the guitar playing inspired by Gilmour at his height but the growing anxiety akin to insomnia itself. This is a sonic salve for the mind and for the soul, it makes you think while you also admire its sheer elegance and beauty, something that this superb band have become very adept at. The vocals are perfectly judged and, once again, a dazzling guitar solo crowns it perfectly. Trail takes us off into trance and electronica, and quite magnificently too! Imagine Mike Oldfield teaming up with Faithless and you wouldn’t be far wrong, the urgency instilled by the keyboards is palpable in nature and the guitars perfectly match the vocals, it’s just brilliant and time almost stands still as you revel in the music.

Welcome and Queen are the works of Konrad Zieliński and Kornel Popławski respectively. Let’s head back in time with the former as it moves into Depeche Mode territory and their ‘Violator’ album. Zieliński provides vocals on this leviathan of a track, a sound that is hewn from granite emanating from the speakers as it draws you in with its monumental distorted guitars and powerful drums. A totally different listening experience but one with its roots firmly in the Amarok universe. Queen is as leftfield as it gets for Amarok fans, trip-hop, shoe-gaze, call it what you like, it is low key and almost sinister in its delivery. It’s throbbing, animated groove leaves you feeling a little off-kilter and Popławski’s vocals are as direct as they get. How refreshing to see the band exploring new territory and just check out Kornel’s violin solos too, sinuous almost alive, they are deliciously dark and machiavellian. Perfect Run is a fast paced, electronic thrill ride of potent keyboards, aggressive drums and crunching guitars, an instrumental of epic proportions that holds nothing back and is another highlight of the album.

Wistful, moving and a simply gorgeous eclectic ballad, Don’t Surrender was written a few years ago and nearly didn’t make the album but I’m ever so glad it did. It tells the story of taking on every challenge regardless of the obstacles that stand in the way, using the metaphor of water that is at once gentle and elemental and it flows perfectly. The vocals are sublime and the music simply elegant with a spectacular, dazzling guitar solo, Amarok at their ethereal, lavish best. Simple Pleasures is possibly the most elemental track on the whole album, laid back, calm and collected, it still shines brightly as another fantastic piece of music. Thoughtful, dreamlike and, at times, nostalgic, it leaves you in a relaxed and contemplative mood, the stylish, uber-cool guitar a wonderful high point. Things come to a close with the simplistic brilliance of Dolina, the only Polish language track on the album. It is like listening to someone baring their soul and literally brought tears to my eyes, the raw emotion of the vocals and lack of any frills or glamour is perfect and is a wake-up call for dormant sensibilities.

An utterly stunning collection of songs that bears Amarok’s impressive hallmarks throughout, ‘Hope’ is one of those albums that hits you at a base level in a totally emotive way. It is music for the mind and the soul and in a world collapsing around our very feet, we all need some of that, don’t we?

Released 5th April, 2024.

Order mp3 from bandcamp here:

Hope | Amarok (

Order CD and Vinyl from IMM here:

Independent Music Market

Amarok Release First Single – Hope Is – From New Album Due In Spring 2024

Amarok, known for its fusion of progressive rock, ethno and ambient, puts a slightly more predatory side on its latest single “Hope Is.” The track is based on a distinctive guitar sound and a characteristic drum rhythm, complemented by electronic additions that give the whole composition a modern twist. The message is based on the concept of hope understood as a force that shatters the safe but illusory order, giving a new direction to reality and the present. Hope as an almost cosmic force lends its energy, nourishes and saturates. It stimulates one to move forward, to live.

Hope Is is not a regular song, but rather a track with vocalizations from a distance, with lyrics sung by Kornel Poplawski and Marta Wojtas’ voice somewhat reminiscent of the sound from a space station. In the sound layer, in addition to the aforementioned ring modulator guitar sound, we will also hear small elements of 90s-style drum & bass.

The single Hope Is will open Amarok’s latest album, scheduled for release in spring 2024.

Music by Michał Wojtas, Kornel Popławski

Lyrics by Marta Wojtas

Produced and mixed by Michał Wojtas

Mastered by Robert Szydło

Michał Wojtas – guitar, keyboards, perc, e-drum

Kornel Popławski – vocal, bass

Marta Wojtas – vocal

Konrad Zieliński – drums

Amarok’s frontman Michal Wojtas unveils the first single from his upcoming album “Lore”!

The solo album by Michal Wojtas, frontman of the band Amarok, opens the door to the musical world created from remarkable sounds coming from both the heart and nature. “Lore” is inspired by Celtic, Old Slavic and Nordic motifs, so there will be no shortage of discreet, relaxing sounds, as well as slightly stronger electronics and ambient on this journey.

Wojtas himself describes working on the album as an extraordinary, passionate experience:

„Lore’s music was created for a performance by British choreographer James Wilton under the same title. I am grateful to him for the musical challenge, which allowed me to dive into an interesting aesthetic from the old days and combine it with new sounds. Working on the material was really enthralling for me. When composing music for a show, film, or games, you can never really know what direction it will take you. During the creation process, the various song themes I’ve sent to James influenced the different parts of the choreography.

I invite you to join me on a journey to a musical world filled with Celtic, Viking and Old Slavic sounds in a contemporary interpretation.”

“Lore” will be released on CD by OSKAR Records at the end of February 2023 containing 9 tracks representing a combination of folklore and electronica.

The CD is already available for preorder at Single „Lore on the streaming platforms:

Amarok To Release New Album ‘Hero’ on 15th October

Amarok is back with a new album! Michał and Marta Wojtas are joined by their old friends – Kornel Popławski and Konrad Zieliński. The result of this collaboration is the album ‘Hero’ – a spiritual sequel to the 2017 ‘Hunt’.

Much like the aforementioned ‘Hunt’, the upcoming album presents a fusion of musical styles known and loved by fans and critics alike. Here the sounds of progressive rock folk and ambient mix together, complemented by a wonderful and subtle guitar virtuosity. The soundscape feels exotic, thanks to the use of uncommon instruments such as violin, theremin, wind gong, djembe, harmonium, flute, and rainsticks.

The pieces have a strong lyrical layer, with their vocals referencing the ongoing digitalization of our life and the unsure position of a human in the future world. There are also beautiful instrumental fragments reminiscent of film scores similar in style to the depictions from the War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Hero is a story of a protagonist, fighting for survival, going up against reality and themselves. It’s about everyone courageously facing the unknown. The lyrics based on this idea, also touch on the current pandemic and the state of the world.

The upcoming album ‘Hero’ is a collection of innovative, fresh, and spatial compositions with just as good lyrical parts, that inquires into our current questions about the future. We recommend spending a while to relax, reflect and enter the world of this unique music. The climate of each and every piece mesmerizes the first time you hear it and brings you back again and again.

Amarok is a music project started in 1999 by a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist – Michał Wojtas, inspired by the music of Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd. Previously they’ve worked together with artists such as Colin Bass, (Camel) and Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul).

Their newest album ‘Hero’ is the second part of the musical trilogy started by the ‘Hunt’ in 2017. This time Michał Wojtas and Marta Wojtas will be joined by Kornel Popławski (bass, synths, violin) and Konrad Zieliński (drums). You can expect complex arrangements encompassing progressive rock, folk and ambient. All that created using a wide variety of exotic instruments, making up the mystical atmosphere characteristic of Amarok’s works.

‘Hero’ will be released on 15th October, 2021.

Order the album here:

Independent Music Market

Review – Amarok – Hunt – by Kevin Thompson

I have no qualms in pushing bands that are new to my ears. The plethora of talent around at the moment is wonderful to behold. I don’t wish to detract from the older bands of my youth and still love and listen to the music I grew up with, but more and more I find myself checking out the new kids on the block (no, not the boy band) as they truly represent a progression in the genres. Everything can go in the musical blender and come out in the mix and though not all of it works and won’t appeal to everyone, there should be something you will find to your taste in there.

I personally feel this is the best time since the 70’s for new music and like an addict I devour neoteric tunes and the bands that make them, trying to sate my appetite. Whilst I am time poor, the chance to review some of these releases is an opportunity I relish and, with a couple of exceptions, have been lucky to like most of what I’ve heard.

So it came as a surprise to me when I agreed to review Amarok‘s album ‘Hunt’, that it is their fourth release and I have not heard them before. Mr Hutchinson sent me this after suggesting it could be in the running for album of the year, so high expectations. Essentially a project of the very talented Michal Wojtas, from Kielce in south central Poland, who sings on five of the tracks and plays a number of instruments (guitars, harmonium, keyboards, audio samples, percussions, electronic drums, theremin, low whistle), he also has other invited artists contributing on various tracks. Michal credits Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield as being particular musical influences on him and their inspiration can also be felt throughout.

Now there is something about Polish artists, the beautiful, melancholic melodies they create resonate with me and some people will find obvious comparisons to another very popular Polish act, but that would be to denigrate the talent here. The further into the album the more the music spreads and occupies different genre spaces. At the heart of the album the lyrics deal with trying to retain our individuality against the social media and powers that be, who try to conform us whilst distorting the truth to their own ends.

After giving this a number of listens I don’t think Michal will remain Anonymous for long as the throbbing pulse of the first track ushers us into his musical world. Pawel Kowalski plays drums on this and most of the tracks on the album, adding to the rising rhythm, with Marta Wojtas filling the sound further on wavedrum as she does on a number of tracks on this album. I’m already hooked as the track mounts to a crescendo with driving guitars and relaxes again in Michal’s vocals to the close.

The incomparable Mariusz Duda lends his delicious vocals to second track Idyll, ably backed by Konrad Pajek. I make no apologies for waxing lyrical on the magic Mariusz’s vocals bring to this or any tune, as it builds gently in mouthwatering layers and he gilds it to perfection. Guitars weep with joy and rippling keys sing, growing as a field of colourful blooms, resplendent in their gilding.

The echoing keys of Distorted Souls haunt us gently, with skittering electronic distortion bouncing between the speakers and staccato drum beats jabbering away under the wistful vocals from Michal Wojtas with an earworm of a chorus. We are then caressed by a wonderful theremin passage midway which serves to accentuate the impactful ending of heart torn guitar strings and keys on what is yet another beautiful track.

We are only three tracks into this and I am sold.

The eerily stunning Two Sides, played mostly on the Duduk (an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood, indigenous to Armenia, for you fact lovers) by the gifted Sebastian Wieladek, blows gently through your ears like a warm Scirocco across a moonlit desert as you lay and watch the stars twinkle in an endless sky, the sound echoing away into the distance, leaving you entranced.

The twisting rhythm of  Michal Wojtas’ harmonium breathes in and out on Winding Stairs, with sampled noises and Pawel Kowalski’s percussive beats dancing back and forth. Michal’s gentle voice soothes and muted guitar flurries strain in the distance gently pushing to the fore, contesting the harmonium on it’s last breaths.

An aggressive, distorted riff blasts you out of your reverie and tribal beats kick in, the guitar stuttering and lurching in and out, bouncing between speakers. Delicate swathes of keys wash on the pounding rhythms as they resonate In Closeness with your increased heartbeat whilst Michal Wotja’s whispering vocals hold it all together.

I love emotional guitar solos and Unreal cries to my very soul as Michal Wojtas bends and slides the frets on mournful waves, underpinned by Michal Sciwiarski’s eddying keyboards. Quite simply bliss.

(Picture by Grzegorz Szklarek)

A different voice softly accompanies the keys and synths on Nuke, courtesy of Colin Bass guesting on vocals, harmonising seamlessly with Michal Wojtas. Steadily and subtly building the music expands, widening the sound to arena proportions with another sublime guitar solo slipping in before the end of this, the penultimate track.

The title tune plays us out starting with the lector narration from John England adding a conceptual feel to Hunt. At just under eighteen minutes this could be classed as an epic musical story, with splendid keyboard passages and samples emulating Michal Wojtas’ quoted influences. Once again there are some fine guitar solos that swoop and fly between Michal’s wonderful vocals. John reflects on questions we should be asking and if can we stay true to ourselves avoiding the pitfalls of a virtual world where hidden people covertly hunt out our personal details for their own benefit, before the album is dramatically brought to a close as a crying guitar collides with the sounds of hammered metal.

Those of you who have read any of my past reviews know I often try to string a storyline through an album in an attempt to illustrate the tunes and catch your attention. I can’t with ‘Hunt’ as every time I listen I’m drawn in and have trouble concentrating as I become immersed in the glory of it all.

I apologise for not hearing of Michal Wojta before and I don’t want to gush, but Martin asked the question, ‘could this be a contender for album of the year?’ The answer is probably not. No reflection on the album but like myself, I am sure Amarok have not been heard by the majority of people.

So I feel a desperate need to redress this balance with what little influence I have, please listen to this album because if nothing else it is most definitely one of my contenders for album of the year.

Amarok are tremendous, let’s give Michal Wojta the recognition he deserves.

Released 23rd June 2017

Buy ‘Hunt’ from Rock Serwis here