Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mgła - Presence (2006)

Released on Northern Heritage Records in January 2006, Presence is the first official release from the Polish Black Metal band Mgła. This 12" E.P. features three songs of fairly standard Black Metal. While there is nothing all that unique about the music, it is executed quite well and upholds the traditions of the Second Wave.

"I" is the longest track on here, clocking in at over eight minutes, and possesses a rather morbid atmosphere. It consists of mid-paced drumming underneath fast-picked tremolo riffs. There is an additional melody that hovers above the rest, like fog over an ancient graveyard, that is somewhat reminiscent of Katharsis. The song is fairly monotonous, with little variation throughout, but does well to maintain the listener's interest. It seems as if it is going to pick up, in the second half, but the drumming does not keep a consistent pace and the haphazard approach kills the potential impact of the guitar riffs.

The next song, simply titled "II", starts out with more cold tremolo riffs but they are neutralized rather early as the drumming drops to half-speed. Perhaps, the band was trying to be less predictable, but they were not able to pull it off. Sometimes, it does not pay to attempt creativity when you are not yet skilled enough to stray beyond familiar territory. This is not a bad song, but there are too many points where the inconsistency of the percussion becomes distracting. As with the rest, the vocals are standard fare, with the vocalist injecting a bit of his natural voice into the sound.

"III" has an incredibly weak beginning and hardly sounds like Black Metal. The over-dubbed vocals are annoying and the pace of the song is nothing that has not been heard a million times, from Bathory to Darkthrone and the thousands of clones that each band has spawned. The riffs seem to owe a bit to early Burzum, but the effect is not nearly as memorable. This song just never gets off the ground and comes off as rather boring and useless.

Mgła did not make the greatest first impression with Presence. Thankfully, I discovered the band near the end of 2006 when a friend sent me the recently-released Mdłości E.P. Otherwise, I doubt they would have ever gotten a second listen. This material is not horrible but it is hardly worth the effort to track down.