Monday, September 25, 2017 20:35

Posts Tagged ‘Mgla’

ORATION MMXVII – HÚRRA, REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND (February 16-18, 2017)

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Rebirth Of Nefast - Oration MMXVIIEighteen bands took to the stage at Húrra in Reykjavík over the course of three dark nights in February, 2017 and my journey to the most-northerly capital in the world was one that I will never forget. It’s difficult to know where to begin with a review of such a momentous event so I’ll start in the middle, just to be awkward…

Night Two: Friday presented me with the welcome opportunity to witness both Slidhr and Sinmara for the third time inside a lucky six-month period. Slidhr were the fourth band of the night and they delivered an incredible set, one that is so tight, concise and honed at this juncture that it beggars belief.

Mastermind Joseph Deegan utilises the services of Sinmara duo Bjarni Einarsson and Garðar S. Jónsson in the live setting as well as ex-Sinmara bassist Wann (aka Stephen Lockhart of Rebirth of Nefast, Studio Emissary and, of course Oration). Watching the quartet go through their paces on stage, it’s mad to think they don’t live in the same town and practice together every day.

Joe and Stephen are also members of Haud Mundus, who were the third band on stage tonight. I think this was their first and only gig and it was a belter. Rookies Nexion opened the second day’s festivities and they can be proud of their performance. Abominor took to the stage third and they were excellent; looking forward to a full-length from them. Sinmara did what Sinmara invariably does – an immense display of harsh black savagery.

The headline act on Day Two was The Ruins of Beverast – one of my all-time favourites. It was a real privilege to witness Alexander Von Meilenwald in such an intimate setting, although I’m not sure how well the complex and majestic music of TROB lends itself to the live environment. For it to fully work, I guess you’d need five Alexes on stage. It was still pretty damn great, though.

Friday’s Band Of The Night: Slidhr

Night One: After parting with a week’s wages in return for a small meal, I sauntered into the womb of Húrra in downtown Reykjavík on the Thursday evening not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the venue was essentially a large bar with a slightly-elevated stage, which of course meant that the bands would be very close as they played.

The young guys of Draugsól had the daunting task of opening proceedings and they did well, delivering a short, solid set. Mannveira upped the ante and Naðra pushed things up a notch further, knocking out a painfully heavy show. ZHRINE looked a bit stupid because they weren’t wearing corpse paint (instead opting for the nerd look) but they duly cantered through a powerful and inventive Death Metal set.

Misþyrming were quite simply sensational. Considering that it was more or less the same crew that had played just two hours earlier with Naðra, the energy they brought to the stage was frightening and it was no surprise when the first mosh pit of the weekend broke out. Spitting out their tunes with uncanny precision and ridiculous ease, D.G. and co were arguably the band of the weekend.

Mgla were headliners. It had been a long, long day and for a while their presence just passed me by. Then, without warning, I was back in the land of the living and utterly thrilled to be in Iceland to take in the hooded Poles in all their glory at such close quarters. They really got the crowd going and it was an amazing experience.

Thursday’s Band Of The Night: Misþyrming

Night Three: Refreshed by steeping my balls in the Blue Lagoon for a couple of hours, I returned to the venue for the third and last time.  It really was a case of saving the best wine ‘til last as five of the six bands on Saturday night were staggeringly good. I’m not sure what pigeonhole we can fit NYIÞ into but their Black Mass routine at the start of the night was stunning. The audience was entranced and remained respectfully silent throughout as they put on a performance that was out of this world.

Almyrkvi is the brilliant Garðar S. Jónsson’s one-man band. He handled vocal duties live and true to form the show was superb. Rebirth of Nefast had only played live once before – at the inaugural Oration – and his debut full-length is imminent. Cloaked in robes, RoN looked great and sounded even better. A special word of mention has to go to creative force Stephen Lockhart, the man who not alone pulled all the moving parts together to make this festival happen but also the mind behind Rebirth of Nefast. He has assembled a terrific live band … all the songs sounded great, as did his vocals. After seeing this show, ‘Tabernaculum’ is my most-anticipated release at the moment.

Unbelievably, there were still three more bands to go…

Aosoth surprised me. Not sure why I expected them to suck but they were quite brilliant. Outre seemed great (insanely crushing) for a while … until the singing parts kicked in and fucked everything up.

Having cruelly missed out on seeing Svartidauði in Glasgow when they were pulled from Caledonian Darkness II at the eleventh hour, I couldn’t wait to see them churn out a headlining set in their home town. At close to midnight on the Saturday night, they took to the stage and duly laid the place to waste. I was tired and had been subjected to more great Black Metal over three days than anyone deserves, and my concentration wasn’t what it should have been, but still Svartidauði made me so, so happy.

Their musicianship is like nothing else I’ve ever seen and it was with a heavy heart that I watched the second—or-third-or-fourth-hardest-working man in Icelandic Black Metal, Þórir Garðarsson, vacate the stage for the last time. What an end to an incredible weekend!

Saturday’s Band Of The Night: Rebirth of Nefast

(Thanks to Woda i Pustka for the Rebirth of Nefast photo.)

MGLA – EXERCISES IN FUTILITY LP (Northern Heritage / No Solace)

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Mgla - Exercises In FutilityOnce, when I was grappling with the greater mysteries of life, I started reading a book called ‘Straw Dogs’, wherein the author – a British philosopher called John Gray – contended that humans are no more than deluded animals with no real worth or value in the greater scheme of things.

Despite our pretensions to grandeur and an innate sense of self, we are a destructive, arrogant, fluke of a species, falsely believing that our ability to use language and reason grants us an elevated status and importance. Ultimately, the grim reality is that we are no different from apes, fish and dung beetles.

The human race essentially comprises walking, breathing piles of shit and our actions, thoughts and emotions are meaningless anomalies of the human condition. Everything we do is pointless. There is no victory at the end, only death and oblivion, the same fate that awaits every living thing.

Realising that there was no actual point or purpose to anything I do, I never finished the book – a conscious decision that is highly apt, in the humble opinion of my ego.

Mgla have a similar outlook on life. Their music bristles with negativity, nihilism, apathy and a sense of hopelessness. According to these justifiably-downbeat Poles, our very existences are a waste of time – exercises in futility. This is a stark, undeniable truth and the rather alarming subject matter helps to elevate Mgla to the higher echelons of modern art, never mind the Black Metal underground.

This is another astonishing volume of work from one of the truly great acts of our (waste of) time. And I had no problem getting to the end of the record.

Evilometer: 666/666

MGLA – WITH HEARTS TOWARD NONE LP (Northern Heritage)

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

While the quality quotient was consistently high, I found that previous Mgla releases were always very short – and therefore ultimately unfulfilling – affairs. The new album isn’t exactly an epic, either, but there’s a bit more meat contained on the collective skeletons of these seven tunes than what I’ve become accustomed to … so I’ve no hesitation is declaring ‘With Hearts Toward None’ to be the Poles’ most complete offering yet.

The record is professionally manufactured and packaged, with all the song lyrics printed on the back of the outer sleeve / cover. I took time to read along whilst listening and found the lyrics to be refreshingly intelligent and thoughtful, particularly enjoying ‘II’ (yep, the song titles are a simple Roman numeral listing I-VII, as is now the Mgla trademark).

The music is mid-paced, emotive Black Metal that’s impossible to dislike. Loads of atmosphere on here, then, and the tracks are beautifully-composed and excellently-delivered. Vocals are close to perfect, without going over the top. In fact, I would say they are somewhat understated for a raw-ish BM release but then again I’m not sure how raw ‘WHTN’ is. It’s of the underground, that’s for certain, but it’s pretty polished and crafty stuff at the same time – which should appeal to all.

All in all, not much of the inspirational variety to say about this record except that it is well worth splashing out on.

Evilometer: 666/666