Released on Northern Heritage Records in January 2006, Presence is the first official release from the Polish black metal band Mgła. This 12" E.P. features
three songs of fairly standard black metal. While there is nothing all that unique about the music, it is executed quite well
and upholds the traditions of the Second Wave.
"I" is the longest track on here, clocking in at over eight minutes,
and possesses a rather morbid atmosphere. It consists of mid-paced drumming underneath fast-picked tremolo riffs. There is
an additional melody that hovers above the rest, like fog over an ancient graveyard, that is somewhat reminiscent of Katharsis.
The song is fairly monotonous, with little variation throughout, but does well to maintain the listener's interest. It seems
as if it is going to pick up, in the second half, but the drumming does not keep a consistent pace and the haphazard approach
kills the potential impact of the guitar riffs.
The next song, simply titled "II", starts out with more cold tremolo
riffs but they are neutralized rather early as the drumming drops to half-speed. Perhaps, the band was trying to be less predictable,
but they were not able to pull it off. Sometimes, it does not pay to attempt creativity when you are not yet skilled enough
to stray beyond familiar territory. This is not a bad song, but there are too many points where the inconsistency of the percussion
becomes distracting. As with the rest, the vocals are standard fare, with the vocalist injecting a bit of his natural voice
into the sound.
"III" has an incredibly weak beginning and hardly sounds like black metal. The over-dubbed vocals are
annoying and the pace of the song is nothing that has not been heard a million times, from Bathory to Darkthrone and the thousands
of clones that each band has spawned. The riffs seem to owe a bit to early Burzum, but the effect is not nearly as memorable.
This song just never gets off the ground and comes off as rather boring and useless.
Mgła did not make the greatest
first impression with Presence. Thankfully, I discovered the band near the end of
2006 when a friend sent me the recently-released Mdłości E.P. Otherwise,
I doubt they would have ever gotten a second listen. This material is not horrible but it is hardly worth the effort to track
(27 Nov. 2011)
Mgła is a Polish black metal band that plays a rather primitive
style of music that is rooted in the early '90s scene. Formed in 2000, they took their time before releasing any material,
as they seemed more concerned with honing their craft and making a good impression. In this case, it was a very good thing
that nothing was rushed. The 2006 Mdłości E.P. was limited to 500 copies
and displayed a group with firm control over their songwriting and overall execution.
This band came recommended from
a friend that I often talked music with. After going on about how I felt that there were no current bands worth paying attention
to, this very recent E.P. was tossed my way in order to prove otherwise. One night, while the candles illuminated my freezing
cold home, Mgła found its way into the rotation, along with Katharsis, Clandestine Blaze and Sargeist. The material was
much more impressive than I had expected, though I did not really follow up on it.
The first song, simply titled "Mdłości
I", begins with an ominous riff that soon bursts into a storm of raw hatred. The drumming is rather straightforward, though
there are some tempo changes to keep things interesting. The guitar riffs show an adherence to Darkthrone's philosophy, in
some ways, while also possessing some of the serpent-like melodies that can be found in the early Watain material. The vocalist
puts on a good performance, sticking within the bounds of the Second Wave and betraying a Nocturno Culto influence. The riffs
have some epic quality to them, giving the feeling that you are being taken on a journey through cold and desolate lands.
The song is very memorable as the guitar melodies stick with you for hours or even days.
"Mdłości II" is
a bit shorter, but no less effective. The tremolo melody is unbearably dismal and hypnotic in a way. The simplistic percussive
approach works well to accentuate the guitar riff and to allow it to absolutely drain all life from the listener. The drumming
pattern offers some amount of variation, but it never distracts from the bleak and mournful riffs. The vocals possess a sense
of desperation that compliments the overall atmosphere very well. During the faster-paced sections, the miserable vibe of
the song is most strongly felt, as the anguished melodies tear through you.
This E.P. is well worth the time and effort
to seek out. Mgła displayed a great amount of potential, with this release, and I have to wonder why I let this band
slip through the cracks. Perhaps, due to the year of its release. Either way, seek this out and don't make the same mistake.
(15 Sept. 2011)
Released in June 2007, Further Down
the Nest is the third E.P. from the Polish band Mgła. This 7' was limited to 700 copies and picks up where the
band left off with their previous release, Mdłości. The style is very similar
and one has to wonder why they were so impatient and continued to release an E.P. each time they wrote a couple songs, rather
than holding off for a full-length.
The first song features the kind of freezing cold guitar melodies that would appeal
to any fan of early-'90s Scandinavian black metal. The riffs possess an epic quality and the overall approach is obsessed
by a morbid intensity that is missing with many bands. The production is underground but fairly clear, allowing everything
to be heard well enough. The drums might be a little high in the mix, but nothing too bad. The songwriting is rather primitive,
though the excessive percussion and frequent tempo shifts keeps it from becoming too minimalist. The song never expands, too
much, on the main themes. It remains content to return to the same cold riff, without building to something larger. This is
pretty straightforward and achieves what it sets out to do.
The second song is more relaxed, beginning with simple
chords and mid-paced drumming. It is a little boring, until a gloomy tremolo riff appears, after a couple minutes. Still,
the style is different from the first track, and not in a good way. There is something kind of pop-oriented about the rhythm,
and the guitar melody is totally wasted. Even when the pace picks up, it never really unfolds as one would expect. The track
kind of meanders its way to a lackluster conclusion, completely undoing the progress set forth by the first track.
Further Down the Nest fails to build on the momentum of the previous E.P. and displays
a severe lack of consistency in Mgła's songwriting. This is similar to the band's first release, Presence, which only
had one good song. It would seem that things are hit and miss with this band, so it is probably better to just seek out the
good tracks and to spend your money on bands with a better idea of what it is that they wish to accomplish.
(29 Nov. 2011)