Released: 2015, Northern Heritage
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
“As if all this was something more/Than another footnote on a postcard from nowhere/Another chapter in the handbook for exercises in futility”
There’s so much noise in the black metal genre today, I don’t blame you for writing off the whole damned thing. But sometimes all it takes is a band or an album that’s just so freakin’ good that it shakes the cobwebs off of your cynicism and reaffirms your faith in the dark arts.
That band, dear friends, is Mgla. That album, is EXERCISES IN FUTILITY.
Pronounced “mg-wa” and translating from Polish as “The Fog”, Mgla has been belting out underground truth since 2005. EXERCISES IN FUTILITY is the duo’s third full length album, and is easily their most decisive mission statement yet. With six individual acts of a single, nihilistic hymnal, EXERCISES IN FUTILITY doesn’t lobby to be the best black metal album of the year – it simply just is.
Stripping away the pomp and frivolity that continues to dilute the genre, Mgla succeeds in recapturing the essence of what made black metal so damned scary to begin with. Bleak, discordant riffs drill into your psyche amidst lyrical prose that associates legitimate human pain with occult parallels; it creates a mental landscape more intimidating than anything Satan himself could introduce. With each song only identified as EXERCISES I through VI, each movement in the processional exists merely to build upon the last, culminating in a complete body of work that serves purely to deplete the listener of any remaining hope that might possibly still flow through their veins.
There are no keyboards to be found, no ambient invocations, no prettied dalliances to make this palatable for the masses. Mgla offer only an unbridled interpretation of reality that two soldiers of the black might be able to convey within the span of 42 minutes. Mgla offer an uncompromising vision of truth in their music, a reality that cannot be ignored - Whether you choose to accept it or not, life itself is an exercise in futility. Succumb to the reality and let the music wash over you, or continue to delude yourself with false expectations; this is as good as it gets.