The Rickety Old Shack

Mgła — Age Of Excuse

album cover

Some 5 years after the release of the band's acclaimed third full-length album, Exercises In Futility (review), the two enigmatic individuals behind Poland's Mgła (and Kriegsmaschine) are back with Age Of Excuse. As is the case with most black metal projects, there was no advance notice, Mgła just dropped another record in our laps completely out of the blue. While Darkside and M have been busy in the interim with the aforementioned Kriegsmaschine project — which does share a lot of sonic elements with Mgła — I was wondering when we'd get new material from their main outfit.

Simply put, Age Of Excuse is another set of bleak, nihilistic black metal songs, in the same vein as their previous material. Each of the tracks is a numbered iteration of the album title — just as on prior releases — and features very little in the way of changes to what has become the band's signature sound. Minimal instrumentation, just grimy, dirty guitars, drums and throaty, wretched vocals uttering lyrics steeped in nihilism and contempt for humanity. Mgła don't break any new ground on Age Of Excuse but they are still masters of their niche and have added some additional nuance to their songwriting. The guitar riffs evoke a dreary, malign feeling, and transition seamlessly into hard-driving passages that have a very punk / alt-rock feel to them at times, but don't clash with the sludgey, blackened sound palette Mgła have cultivated. There has always been a good groove in Mgła's work and it is even more prominent this time around.

The audio engineering is more than serviceable, even if the production doesn't feature much in the way of edits or overdubs — everything on the record sounds like it could be played live without backing tracks. Darkside's drumming is some of the best in the metal scene and his performance on Age Of Excuse is truly excellent. In Kriegsmaschine, the drumming is a lot more dominant in the mix, whereas on Mgła material, the percussion — especially the intricate cymbal work — very tastefully accentuates and stays out of the way of the guitars. Darkside turns in a virtuoso performance in terms of executation and restraint. The drum tones are clean and crisp, and the interplay between them and the guitars is a testament to both players.

If you are at all familiar with Mgła, then this is a mandatory listen. For the uninitiated, this is absolutely the place to start; the band's discography is very, very good, but Age Of Excuse is without a doubt the finest presentation of everything that makes Mgła what it is. This record doesn't break any new ground for the band, but it's unquestionably the most refined version of their trademarked sound. It's grim, dour, and incredibly engaging; packed full of sick, driving riffs and impressive drum lines. Age Of Excuse is one of 2019's best metal records. Don't sleep on this one, folks, check it out at your earliest opportunity.

Summary

Mgła is quickly becoming one of the most consistent, talented projects in the black metal scene. The genre is seeing huge growth in terms of projects including atmospheric and post-rock elements, but Mgła deliver a crushing dose of straight-up black metal with some new school sensibilities. This is uncompromising, quality metal; it sounds raw and nasty at first, but repeated listens give way to appreciating the subtlety and nuance in each track. Mgła drop their strongest batch of songs to date on Age Of Excuse; not only is the hype justified, but the band is still immensely underrated. A top release of 2019, without a doubt.

Album Information

Release date: September 2nd, 2019
Record label: No Solace

M — vocals, guitar, bass
Darkside — drums

Track Listing

  1. Age Of Excuse I
  2. Age Of Excuse II
  3. Age Of Excuse III
  4. Age Of Excuse IV
  5. Age Of Excuse V
  6. Age Of Excuse VI

Link: no-solace-bandcamp.com

—by Derek

Published: October 25th, 2019.