2019 press with No Solace and lyrics printed on the back cover
The underground is a haven for eclipsed and enigmatic bands but this Polish act, who have enjoyed much success before the arrival of Groza, have managed to rise above the struggling influx of less suspenseful bands. Fans of extreme underground music have harped on about Mgla since the dawn of their creation, stating that they will become one of the most significant acts in modern black metal folklore due to their incredible spirit and style. Having heard Presence before this full-length effort, Groza (which means dread in English) I can say that the reaction to Mglas earliest material is certainly hyperbolic. I did enjoy their EPs, most of which I heard after hearing Groza, but I cannot say that I havent heard far superior bands to this Polish two man effort. Groza, thankfully, has hit the heights that some of the previous material didnt but I wont be judging this on the basis of what has gone before it as full-lengths are a step up in quality. What with having ties to much hyped and much loved fellow Polish bands such as Kriegsmaschine (who I am not that fond of) and Massemord (who I am particularly fond of), one was waiting in anticipating for Groza, which was released over the summer of 2008. Signed to major record label Northern Heritage also added an extra sense of anticipation, which was steadily mounting. The pressure was firmly positioned on the shoulders of the members of Mgla to perform and thankfully, as stated, this record has hit unprecedented heights that perhaps previous material may have struggled to do in the past. There are some notable changes to the style of Mgla, who have increased the importance of production, which is thankfully much improved from previous outings, where the material was immersed in an intoxicating fuzz. Groza however, although different in terms of production values, hasnt lost any of the magic that the previous releases may have had, in terms of the production, which is much more accessible to modern day listeners. As black metal has evolved from a sub-genre of heavy metal, with its lo-fi production and blizzard like distortion, the standards have risen and expectations on elements like the production have changed. Although fans of the genre may have accepted the lo-fi nature of the production, the majority of fans seem to be swaying towards improved standards in terms of quality. This improvement doesnt just exist in one form either, instrumentally, this Polish act have shown a degree of maturity in terms of song writing. Groza is covered by a captivating production style, which doesnt tend to rely too heavily on any specific element of the instrumentation. In the past, Mgla have perhaps seen the guitars as the most imperative aspect of modern day black metal and thus, whilst improving the standards of the guitar sections, the rest of the instrumentation has inevitably been let down. That is not the case with Groza. The bass, even, which is often left out in the cold on black metal records, is submerged in a sunny production that offers a fascinating contrast in soundscapes. Although the production may be airy and light on this effort, unlike on previous efforts, it allows the instrumentation to solely do the work in terms of creating the diversities in sound. For example, the guitars, which still do contain the blizzard like tremolo effects, are used to firmly establish the evil atmospheric tendencies, which plague the listener throughout by increasing a sense of destructive imagery and reflective patterns. The vocals are pretty standard and dont tend to stick out much, but Mgla are all about the instrumentation, using tight percussion, interesting bass lines that like to dominate and special guitars, which bring the most splendor to the soundscapes. Although negatives do exist (the largely redundant vocals and such), they dont dominate in any sense of the word and I can easily see a horde of onrushing black metal fans, with their armory, battle paint (or corpse paint if you prefer) and raised swords ready to fight for and worship this Mgla record if it were to ever come under intense scrutiny. Having had many chances to listen to Groza, I cant see that it will. The effective use of bass which, as stated, likes to take control on occasions, as well as being very diverse and interesting, those spectacular driving guitars (which are particularly inspired on Groza IV which uses twin guitars to stunning effect), the distorted blizzard fest is mystically blissful and sounds like any fantasy novel reads, with a special atmospheric aura. Perhaps less importantly, despite the rather redundant vocals, the lyrics express a complexity that the instrumentation might not and delivers a poetical view of the lyrical themes.
The lowest common denominator is crowned.
Standpoints are chosen over general reason.
Stars allocated to every man and woman.
Fair measure of futile love and will.
Fortresses of blissful unconsciousness.
Anywhere between Aquinas and Descartes.
Blazing a trail as shown, as told, over the exact same traces.
Crawling in circles with face in dirt and spirit skyhigh.
Highly rated for a reason.
1. Groza I
2. Groza II
3. Groza III
4. Groza IV