Mgła – Exercises in Futility (Northern Heritage, 2015)
Though Poland’s Mgła doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, liberally employing the tremolo riffs and deafening blast beats that have become synonymous with black metal, Exercises in Futility seamlessly bridges the melodic and the purgative. Anchored by some absolutely stellar production and razor-sharp precision, Mgła flawlessly recreate the stark, cold atmosphere of genre pioneers Darkthrone and Mayhem without relying on cruddy lo-fi aesthetics. The Polish band narrowly walk the tightrope between melodic black metal and the more straightforward dissonant assault of black metal’s Norwegian innovators; the album’s opening track, “Exercises in Futility I,” expertly balances catchiness and heaviness, juggling the two without ever confounding them. Exercises in Futility serves as a welcome reminder that an album’s originality isn’t everything; sometimes potency is more than enough.
Trial Track: “Exercises in Futility I”