Age Of Excuse

Written by: RUB on 06/01/2020 22:20:27

I had no previous knowledge of Polish Mgła before their magnificent release “Exercises in Futility” was released in 2015, but all of a sudden, it was as if you needed a whole new and different scale with which you measure black metal. That album was so good and refreshing, and for all I know, it sparked a somewhat new variant of black metal, which the American group Uada and even the Icelandic Misþyrming also excel in today. Fast-forward four years to their newest outing “Age of Excuse”, which should be an obvious contestant to any prospects for extreme metal end of the year lists for 2019, provided that Mgła would be able to come close to, or perhaps even match the brilliance of their 2015 release. Let us thus dive into the dark, bleak and misanthropic vortex that is Mgła’s fourth full-length and dissect it further.

The atmosphere is shaped with malevolence from the very first stroke, with eerie guitars, slow but steadfast drumming and the harsh, deep and dry growls of Mikołaj ‘M.’ Żentara shaping the soundscape, initially preceded by the sound of gnashing teeth in the intro (tasty, right?). You quickly get the feeling that since the band only consists of two musicians, it is impressive how complete and grandiose the instrumentation sounds — especially the guitar and drums, courtesy of M. and his compatriot Maciej ‘Darkside’ Kowalski respectively, which are in perfect unison and make for a very interesting and immense listening experience. In the tone of those dry and deep growls by M., the profound lyrics depict the faults and failures of mankind and are arranged as the perfect companion to the atmospheres at hand. Every track has a length surpassing the 05:30-minute mark, ensuring that one can single out each one of them as a standout moment, but the album also serves as a complete listening experience if one chooses to queue up the entire 40 minutes or so that “Age of Excuse” lasts.

The duo doesn’t shy away from adding some catchy, high-pitched melodies to the otherwise fast, dark and gloomy music either. As seen on the second track, M.’s guitar merely serves as an underlying instrument complementing the ever-evolving drum rhythms that take the spotlight, and although it is a very tough call, this could be the go-to track on the album, given how fantastic the interplay between the instruments and M.’s vocals on it is. What the atmosphere created by the guitar does, is affording the guitar a life of its own as it sort of builds up around the drum pattern, thus creating this dark, deep and grandiose atmosphere that the listener can simply become lost in, eyes closed and massive headphones resonating at an ear-destroying volume. The melodic hooks here are best described as melancholic, as they have a sadness and seriousness to them that render the composition a perfect fit for the themes explored by M.’s lyricism. Take, for example, the following excerpt from track five:

In this rotten excuse for a world

At the bottom of the dustbin of history

Let’s just try and pretend

That our corpses still have some class

Lyrics like this would make even Cattle Decapitation proud, although in general the two bands’ lyrical universes are typically further apart. Still, it is not only the lyrics that have a sadness to them. One can actually hear how the tones and rhythms strike a chord of grievance and sorrow, which might sound odd at first… but I’m certain you will know what I mean after a listen or two. Generally speaking, I have a hard time picking the best tracks on offer here, as every single one has its standout moments. I can only urge you to give the entire record a few spins, as the way these Poles manage to create this special atmosphere and ambiance is truly a magnificent feat.

After several listens, I can thus confidently assert that “Age of Excuse” is a beast of a record. But what would that make “Exercises in Futility”? The latter still stands as such a massive and important record to beat, and even though “Age of Excuse” should be judged on the basis of its own merits, it’s hard to forget that Mgła have done it slightly better in the past — and I mean only slightly, as it is very hard to point out anything particularly bad about this latest creation either. Does this mean we have already witnessed the pinnacle of Mgła, then? I hardly doubt it, as the songwriting ability and individual skillsets possessed by this duo have me convinced that whatever they come up with next will make for yet another jaw-dropping, mesmerizing listening experience — both on record, and certainly also in the live setting, where the atmosphere created by these musical geniuses on record can only become heightened.

Download: Age of Excuse I, Age of Excuse II, Age of Excuse III, Age of Excuse V, Age of Excuse VI
For the fans of: Batushka, Behemoth, Misþyrming, Uada
Listen: Facebook

Release date 02.09.2019
Northern Heritage Records

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