Review: MukaPatologija Poniznosti

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You ever wish that sometimes black metal would just cut the bullshit? I don’t know about you, but I often get exhausted dealing with clods trying to unconvincingly prove that they are literally the agents of Satan on earth. (That’s definitely not to say that I don’t often enjoy the Satanic or death-worshiping black metal themes, but it seems that for every Ofermod, there are a dozen Nargaroths out there.) This is why it’s so refreshing when a band drops the pretense and focuses on something more grounded. Croatia’s Muka is one of those bands. There’s no corpse paint and no crab-walking buffoons here. Just five really pissed off dudes making killer music.

As I said earlier, Muka is from Croatia, Zagreb to be exact. As such, their lyrics are in Croatian, and I can’t really make out the finer details of Patologija Poniznosti‘s lyrical content. However, the promo materials say that the band are focused on a “a vision of perpetual struggle of critical reason against the pale, gray and uninspiring surroundings”. The promo further states an explicit opposition to the abuses of demagogues and religious leaders. I can dig it.

The music is the most interesting take on black metal I’ve heard this year (I know it’s early yet, but I think this bastard is gonna hold up). If I had to compare Muka’s approach on Patologija Poniznosti to other bands, I’d say that they take Shining and mid-era Satyricon‘s sense of groove and occasionally marry it to a more dissonant chord structure almost like Deathspell Omega or Dodecahedron. However, Patologija Poniznosti is definitely not as chaotic as the latter two. It doesn’t feel random. It’s just dissonant enough to convey a sense of intense discomfort.

One of the things I am finding most enjoyable on this EP is how not lazy it is. There are no tired and monotonous riffs that refuse to end. Instead, the listener is treated to riffs after riffs that constantly shift and flow in both pace and rhythm. While Patologija Poniznosti is technically black metal, calling it just black metal is neither a valuable descriptor nor a particularly fair one. It’s black metal composed with the care and attention to variety of death metal. Listen to “Idolmantis Diabolica”. You’ll see what I mean.

It’s all well and good that that the album is technically well composed, but if it fails on the front of atmosphere, it is not a good black metal album, right? Well, there’s not a thing to worry about there. The rage and suffering of the album’s lyrical themes are perfectly represented by the music. Patologija Poniznosti scrapes and screams in a way that is both ugly and profound. It’s enraged and tortured, but not despairing. There’s an intense violence to it. It’s a snake nailed to a board. It’s not sad; it’s desperate and dangerous. No where is this more apparent than in the track, “U Zabludi”.

As for production , Patologija Poniznosti is definitely not a raw black metal affair. I’m not saying it’s over-produced or plastic sounding; it’s just very good. The very precise musicianship on display here is clearly audible thanks to the oddly dry mix style. That’s right, these bastards manage a magnificent black metal atmosphere without reverb. Take note, lazy bands: good musicianship is what makes killer atmosphere, not the abuse of reverb.

If you couldn’t tell, Patologija Poniznosti is my fucking jam. It is a very interesting and painfully human album. Now if you will excuse me, I have a back catalogue to add to my Bandcamp wish list.

4/5 Existentially Tortured Toilets

Get Palogija Pontiznosti digitally now and on vinyl 3/31/21 here:

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