Polish black metallers, Mgla, have released a brand new album called Age of Excuse. Age of Excuse was released independently on the 2nd of September.
Mgla, translated to English as fog, have found themselves suffocated in controversy in recent years. A lot to do with the bands they have played with and friends they associate with who have open extreme nationalistic views. While the same has been levied against Mgla, the band have denied all claims even to the point of taking certain publications to court over the accusations. Does that mean innocence? No. It also doesn’t mean guilt. Much smarter people than myself can figure the truth out there. I’ll just listen to the music and tell you if I like it or not.
Mgla are currently a two piece with two live members. The core band is Mikołaj Żentara (M) on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Maciej Kowalski (Darkside) on drums. Live members are Piotr Dziemski (EVT) on lead guitars and backing vocals and Michał “ShellShocked” Stępień (The Fall) on the bass and backing vocals.
Age of Excuse is 6 tracks or42 minutes in length. Each track is named Age of Excuse followed by a number. Age of Excuse 1 then Age of Excuse 2 etc…. Mgla play black metal with a little atmospheric edge and Age of Excuse is exactly that. Traditional sounding black metal with hellish riffs, snarled vocals, meaty bass and bone shaking drums. It sounds like an album plucked from a decade or two ago with the production managing to give the feeling of being recorded in a dank cave or creepy forest clearing. The only sign that this is a new album comes in small moments of atmosphere or progressive building blocks but they are used sparingly making this an album likely to please purists.
Age of Excuse is a really good album to listen to while simultaneously it being the most exciting thing you are going to listen to this year. Age of Excuse 1 offers a little atmosphere in the intro building gently with some backing noises and a drawn out guitar. It soon turns itself into a straightforward dark beast of a track with a chunky riff and higher toned lead sitting over the top. The overall pace is pretty steady, not speed metal. It’s a head banging rhythm, across the whole album really. The guitars are great though. The dark and rumbling riff with the higher lead is pure ear candy.
Age of Excuse II picks the pace up a little but keeps those contrasting guitar tones. The drums are quick but lack a bit of depth. The vocals are dark and menacing too with more than enough power. The lead guitars, switches in tempo and moments where the rhythm tails off for a brief second to leave the lead melody standing tall are real highlights, showing a slightly more progressive side. III drops the pace back a little bit but gets a little more adventurous with the riff. The vocals seem to grab some extra evil from somewhere at the start to, really sounding dark. The drums still sound a little flat to me but the guitars are brilliant and the bass fills a big chunk of the rhythm section anyway. The pace grows as the song evolves turning into a nice and dark pit worthy banger.
IV is one of the shorter tracks at just 5 and a half minutes long. The pace grows again with speedy drums and a progressive lead line before it settles into a slightly strangely timed song with robotic drumming, drawn out guitars and out of place vocals. It’s odd but in an interesting way. The drums seem to find a bit more depth and oomph too over the course of this song which is welcome. Enjoyable but lacks a little compared to what came before and what follows.
Age of Excuse V and VI offer a solid double header of black metal to end on. The former is probably my favourite track. The riff has an almost doom like quality to it’s start with a little melody and a nice grooving rhythm. Echoed, near spoken vocals start the song making it one of the more standout tracks before it turns violently into a vicious writhing beast of a track.Booming riffs, soaring melodic lines and frenetic drumming all with a layer of venomous vocals splattered over the top. It’s a treat to listen to.
The latter, VI, is the longest song on the album at over 9 minutes. It drops the progressive edge and goes for the purist vote with a long, but full on track. Big drum beats and punchy riffs make up the core of the song. The lead guitar drops melodic lines all over it while the vocals stay vicious but sit behind the guitars for long periods. It doesn’t quite hit th eheights of V but the 9 minutes fly by in a flurry of guitars and punding drums.
Mgla have created a cracking black metal album in Age of Excuse. It’s a really enjoyable listen with some clever songs and just enough progression to keep your interest while not venturing far outside of traditional. There are highlights, with III, V and VI being absolute bangers. The others aren’t bad either, just not quite up to the same level. Overall though, Age of Excuse offers a lot to the listener. The lea dguitars are mesmerising throughout., The drums are great depsite occasionally sounding diluted. Even that is something common on traditional blakc metla albums though. The vocals are deep and ferocious and the bass oozes darkness all over the record. The biggest selling point for me though is the guitars. The deep and moving riffs coupled with the contrasting lead lines are brilliant throughout.
You can grab a copy of Age of Excuse now on all the usual streaming platforms. You can grab a copy from the band, here, too.
Age of Excuse by Mgla (Self Released)
The Final Score - 9/10