Black metal seems to be undergoing a great deal of experimentation lately, and fortunately so. But nonetheless, that craving for some full-fledged black metal remains, and now, Polish group Mgla is here to satisfy once more. Their previous release, With Hearts Toward None undeniably satisfied, and after three years their latest album, Exercises in Futility hits again. It may not take the masterpiece status that their sophomore album did, but nonetheless Exercises in Futility delivers a bleak and atmospheric yet truly crushing black metal experience. It’s appealing to purists but accessible nonetheless, with an obvious radiance to its crisp, desolate darkness.
Mgla provides a full-length listening experience, separating the album into six parts but blending the sound into one in the same style of their previous album. It would be difficult to even choose a favorite track - this is not the type of album where one would add a song or two to their playlist. Instead, the album is meant to be listened to in its entirety, which is probably why the album was given an early release by the band as pieces began to leak. Despite being best experienced in its full form, the album is not without its peaks. There is a different aura provided by the separate parts, with parts I and V falling into the particularly soul-crushing atmospheric spectrum while part III is instead chugging and rhythmically dense. These pieces ultimately blend together, demonstrating a range in dimension and depth through sound. Each piece would not be complete without the pieces surrounding it. As one may expect with this time of dynamic, however, there are easily forgettable moments. The sound fades into the background, but is jolted back to the mind by transitions into the album’s countless blistering moments. Exercises in Futility above all provides contentment and a feeling of satisfaction that can only be fulfilled by the forty-five minute experience of listening to a genuine modern black metal project in its entirety.