Polish black metal band Mg?a’s 2012
album With Hearts Towards None is full of fairly straightforward black metal, choc-full of anger and despair, but they power along to the point of highly memorable almost with their melody crafting alone. Taking off from where they left off with the very competent debut entitled Groza
, Mg?a have progressed themselves in their four-year silence quite a bit.
Anything I would have nit-picked in Groza
is fixed up well here. The band has benefitted from going the “shorter songs, longer track list” route. With Hearts Towards None gives us seven tracks, all titled in roman numerals, and all of them are memorable. With a lot of forward drive going for the music and one memorable riff after another, there’s a lot here that you will find gets stuck in your head upon listening just once. Though the riffs are not necessarily technically stunning, their execution and flowing sound are great at projecting emotion. There’s a lot of passion in those guitar strings, and they’re capable of setting some great moods while exciting the listener and pumping out adrenaline. Aside from that, the music as a whole moves forward as one body, so the dips into slower tempos and time signatures really feel natural. Each section comes in with a lot of force and energy behind it, making this album quite entertaining.
The instruments are all packed tight and all of them are just right in the mix. With the drums and the wall of bass the album sounds quite dense, and with a relatively warm production for a black metal release, the guitars, toned to sound frosty and cold, stand out in great contrast. Many of the riffs here take advantage of this juxtaposition by suddenly jumping strings from deeper to higher notes, giving most of the leading melodies a sense of freedom and elevation. The sound here isn’t nearly as rough in sound as one would expect from a raw black metal band, but I think that given the band’s keen sense of melody that isn’t a bad thing. The vocals here are stunning—not particularly unique, but highly fitting for the music. The roaring growl here could be suited for blackened death metal, but they aren’t out of place within this world. They puncture the storm of blazing instruments, with plenty of grit and punch but still maintaining a relatively surprising amount of decipherability. I can understand most of what M is growling about (hell and evil and misanthropy, all that cuddly stuff), and it makes for some pretty interesting listening. Throwing the occasional curveball, M will sometimes go into a clean sort of shouting that seems purposely blurred under blizzard-like guitar riffs (most notably in the songs III and IV), which gives a neat sort of dimension to the section each this alternate vocal method is introduced.
For an album that’s titled With Hearts Towards None, the album is quite easy to swallow, and its prevailing melodic sensibilities are an easy draw for most people into the extreme branches of metal, even for those just being introduced to rawness and brutalness. At the same time, relentless waves of aggressive riffs and furious energy make this album something far-separated from what one would usually call limp. The black metal music here is intense, dramatic, sorrowful, and strong. With many powerful heavy headbanging riffs (strewn throughout V), melodic and hypnotic strange licks (the pattern around which II is structured), and slow ominous buildups (the intro to VII) there’s certainly a lot to pick out and enjoy. The songs tend to not use too many riffs given their run-time, but the three or four patterns and exchanges they choose to build their songs around work time and time again and are hard to get bored of. It is quite infectious and remains interesting long enough to carry you from one song to the next. This does lead me to what I’d call the only complaint I can make here. I personally feel that, while this album has a lot of strong points throughout and almost always keeps the listener interested without using a ton of riffs and signature changes, it sort of lacks variety, and I think the song writing here is full of potential for expansion. I think a few more songs that seek to push or break the mold would work really well here.
Mg?a have already progressed fairly far from their 2008 album Groza
, compacting song structures into smaller but denser packages and amping up the adrenaline a little but (unfortunately losing a bit of their atmosphere in the process, but this is mostly made up for), but I still think that they can go farther with their method and formula. I guess this makes me hopeful and interested in what the band will come out with next, because there’s definitely potential and I think they’ll be able to make some more really good stuff before they start to go stale, assuming that they don’t turn into a copy-paste repetitive band with whatever their next release is. As it now stands, Mg?a is a really accomplished band with only two albums under its belt. Their 2012
release With Hearts Towards None is definitely worthy of being called a great piece of contemporary black metal, despite a minor lack of variety overall. Its uniqueness and its great taste in worthy riffs makes this an album that is worth the time of black metal fans out there.