Guest Post from Stanley Laurel: 18 Days of Mgła – Part 3
Welcome to the third and final installment of 18 Days of Mgła and, not a moment too soon. When I started doing these little write ups a little over three weeks ago, I thought I would have all the time in the world to school you, but late summer turned into September 4th, turned into Exercises in Futility being leaked last Saturday. Suddenly, the pressure was on to get everyone up to speed!
Unfortunately, due to the leak, the band decided to take matters into their own hands and uploaded a good quality version of the entire album to YouTube. I tried my hardest to wait until the official release date to listen to the record, but alas, I failed, for I am weak. Not surprisingly, the album lives up to, and exceeds, all expectations.
Mgła are on tour this fall, so if you are reside anywhere close to one of the dates, make an effort to see them. I’ll be going to the Oakland show! So, without further ado, lets get to it.
Day 13 – “With Hearts Toward None V” (2012)
With “Hearts Toward None V” is one of the most commanding tracks on the album and demands that you sit up and take notice. Overall, it’s one of the more mid-tempo numbers, but the cleverly placed moments of intensity provide balance and completeness.
Riff: The riff at 2:10 is an album highlight. While most of the album will have you rummaging in the medicine cabinet desperately searching for that bottle of Prozac, this section is uplifting, almost jubilant, in its delivery.
Drums: There are two parts to this one. Starting at 2:10, the beat will get you goose-stepping down the hallway and then at 2:42, the abrupt change of pace, will have you falling on your face.
Lyric: “A monument is risen
To be seen from afar
Erected by thieves
Financed by murderers
And secured by lawyers.”
Fun fact: M. has his own recording studio called No-Solace. He was responsible for recording, mixing and mastering Infernal War’s crushing 2015 release, Axiom.
Day 14 – “Further Down the Nest I” (2007)
The first song on Further Down the Nest is furious. Icy tremolo picked melodies straight out of early 90’s Scandinavia atop strident power chords and Darkside’s signature blasting-with-finesse. This is one of my favorites.
Riff: The emblematic opening riff is Mgła incarnate.
Drums: Damn, it’s hard to pick a moment to highlight in this song. I guess if pressed, I’d go with the section that starts at 1:55. It starts with some tom rolls before transitioning into a simple beat that picks up the pace every for four or eight bars. One riff, four tempo changes!
Lyric: “Gazing into the abyss with the intensity of a madman
Desperately awaiting the day it looks back.”
Fun fact: Darkside used to drum for MasseMord. He played on “Let the World Burn” and “The Whore of Hate”, both master classes in blasting quickly. Very, very quickly.
Day 15 – “With Hearts Toward None II” (2012)
One of Mgła’s more discordant compositions, “With Hearts Toward None II” evokes feelings of sinking. Sinking deep. I’m not talking about deep, like into a nice deep sleep, but deep like into a pit of quicksand, where slowly but surely, the air is being sucked out of you until your lungs finally collapse. The riffs are lithe, gracefully flowing, but writhing in agony.
Riff: At 2:15, the main thematic riff subtly evolves with the addition of the minutest of string bends, which makes it even more unnerving.
Drums: Militant thumping drives much of the song, so lets go with that. 3:51.
Lyric: “Repent! Repent!
For the LORD has risen high and proud
His chariot drawn by rats and vultures
And adorned with heads of skeptics.”
Fun fact: Mgła on promotion: “Promotional activity has ranged from minimal to none and was mostly based on word of mouth. Reason behind this is not intended secrecy, but conviction that we can do perfectly well without typical presentation of rock band. Existence of Mgła is because of inner urge. Our approach to promotion has been and remains the same: “we exist. Feel free to check out if interested”. Over the years recognition and interest in the band appear to have grown to the point of disbelief at our end. With this, we are genuinely surprised and flattered.”
Day 16 – “Presence II” (2006)
This is a pure second wave banger! Everything but the kitchen sink is crammed, somewhat forcefully, into this song. I can’t put my finger on any black metal styling, either guitar or drums, that isn’t incorporated. Even the vocals are delivered at a pitch higher to recreate that feeling of demonic possession.
Riff: If we were to try and trace the lineage of Mgła’s riffs, the opening riff to “Presence II” would contain both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
Drums: Drummer Daren appeared on both Crushing the Holy Trinity and Presence, as well as Kriegsmaschine’s earlier output. He’s definitely got some chops, but as I’m a sucker for a good foot stomper, I’ll recommend the beat that starts at 1:29.
Lyric: “A will so strong, cracking knees like twigs
Resistance is futile, but how delighting.”
Fun fact: Mgła recorded the “Northwards” demo in 2000 and the “Necrotic” demo in 2001; neither was officially released.
Day 17 – “Groza IV” (2008)
Bass guitars? In black metal? Are you out of your mind? Well, “Groza IV” is riddled with gothic inspired bass-lines that’ll make you want to get out your eyeliner and paint your fingernails black. Sure there are plenty of frosty tremolo riffs overlaid, but the predominant quality of this song is that gothic groove.
Riff: The opening (0:01) and closing (8:48) bass riffs would not be out of place on a Sisters of Mercy or Cure album.
Drums: There is a surprising mini-drum solo at 1:56, which, although acting primarily as a bridge, certainly adds some variation.
Lyric: “The virtues of loss. The hymnes of decay.
Dost thou have faith now, o dearest friend?”
Fun fact: Mgła on interviews: “There has been little interviews and it’s not going to change drastically. We prefer to do our thing rather than talk about it. Our means of communication is music/emotion – studio or live. We believe that as any art form, music should not require additional written explanation.”
Day 18 – “With Hearts Toward None VII” (2012)
We started at the beginning and so logically, we must end at the end. In “With Hearts Toward None VII”, we find the masters of melancholy at their pinnacle. One of the most poignant riffs in black metal, wholly unique drumming, fervent vocals and lyrics that are filled with total despair, are all brought together into one, perfectly formed package. To many, this is their crowning achievement.
Riff: The opening riff is one the finest in their repertoire, and it would need to be as it goes on for three minutes! The tension builds with each repetition, until finally it’s so taut, it splinters into a million, ear piecing fragments.
Drums: The effectiveness of the opening riff is primarily due to the refined delicacy with which Darkside tickles the cymbals and increases the tempo. Click the link below, sit back, and enjoy. It’s otherworldly.
Lyric: “Have ye courage, o my brethren?
The signs are everywhere.
Some did not see it coming,
others refused to see.
I can feel it in the tingle of the air,
in the heartbeat of the earth
And I can tell that the storm is
coming all down on me.”
Fun fact: Mgła have the best logo in black metal. No one can pronounce it, but everyone recognizes it. Iconic!
Well, that’s it folks. We have reached our conclusion. I hope you all had as much fun reading/listening as I had writing/listening. Exercises in Futility is due out tomorrow. That’s right, tomorrow. Do yourself a favor and, if you haven’t already pre-ordered it, head over to here (US), here, here (for physical) or here (for digital) and furnish these fine Polish gentlemen with your hard earned dosh. Hail Mgła! Hail Polish Black Metal!