“The great truth is there isn’t one” is not only the opening line to the first track from Mgła’s latest opus Exercises In Futility, but a nihilistic notion that is imbued within their soulless take on black metal. Emerging from the black metal underground with the sublime masterpiece With Hearts Toward None (both Northern Heritage) released in 2013, Mgła have fast become one of the most exciting bands in today’s extreme metal scene. Consequently, the follow up Exercises In Futility was one of the most highly anticipated releases in black metal this year, so no pressure then.
No superfluous song titles here, simply ‘Exercises in Futility I’ to ‘VI’ are the track titles, and that is all that is required as each song cohesively blends to the next, an album best appreciated in its entirety, rather than picking out individual tracks. Mgła execute an effective balance; despair and hopelessness outlines the bleak tone, yet the sweeping guitar rhythms are majestic and uplifting. The production upholds a frosty atmosphere, whilst remaining crisp and bold. Guitarist Mikołaj ‘M’ Żentara utilizes harsh dissonant riffs, alongside flowing melodies, a feature of their music that makes for such a compelling listen. The tempo changes add a sense of unpredictability, ‘Exercises in Futility VI’ begins with a haunting clean guitar section, followed by a barrage of fast paced black metal riff mastery while ‘Exercises in Futility III’ has a more sinister feel with jarring discords over an austere melody.
Despite the overwhelming misanthropy that is conveyed, Exercises in Futility isn’t as depressing as the lyrical content would suggest, the seamless flow and rousing melodies are emotive and enriching. It’s an album crafted with passion and dedication, which is overtly evident in their music. Mgła have honed a pioneering sound that is now getting the recognition it so very much deserves.
Whilst compiling that albums of the year list, leave space near the top for this one.