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With Hearts Toward None

Poland Country of Origin: Poland

1. With Hearts Toward None I
2. With Hearts Toward None II
3. With Hearts Toward None III
4. With Hearts Toward None IV
5. With Hearts Toward None V
6. With Hearts Toward None VI
7. With Hearts Toward None VII

Review by Felix on December 15, 2023.

Usually bands offer one title track per album, but Mgła can only laugh about these cheapskates. They present only title tracks, seven on “With Hearts Toward None”. This is true greatness. But cheap jokes aside, Mgła’s art has no funny aspects. Instead, their music spreads an almost hopeless seriousness. There is this menacing Darwinian component in their material, the acceptance of the irrefutable law that only the strong survive – and even this is not certain. This makes their compositions sound very male from my point of view. Forgive me for being old-fashioned, but when I reflect about beauty, empathy or cordiality, I do not mainly think of men but women – and these elements are completely missing in the sound of the Polish duo.

As mentioned above, “With Hearts Toward None” houses seven title tracks, but only one them them includes the eponymous line. I am speaking of the third chapter of the album. This track is absolutely fantastic. It commutes between mid-paced and high speed parts, but probably you all know that Mgła do not need high velocity to create density, atmosphere, bitterness and irresistible pressure. “III” bundles all strengths of the two artists while offering wild melodies and intense eruptions at the same time. Songs like this make the flames of authentic black metal burn higher.

The excellence of many melodies is amazing. They are embedded in an Armageddon-like environment. Mgła have a knack for presenting both harshness and harmonies simultaneously and in the perfectly portioned dose. Mastermind M.'s magnificent voice plays an extraordinarily good part in this. He does not vary his pitch, but an overdose of charisma and expressiveness helps him to avoid even the slightest hint of monotony. Each and every of his words hit the listener like a bullet. This raw vocal power puts the finishing touches to the songs. By the way, the pieces also do not vary a lot, but just like the voice, they stay exciting during the entire album. “With Hearts Toward None” is, just like its successors, a very homogeneous, more or less monolithic album. Somehow the artwork mirrors this brusque uniformity of the songs very adequately.

“II” is a pretty dragging song, not the most dynamic one in the history of the band, but still a quite good one. Some of its sections build a discreet link to industrial sounds, nevertheless, this is a typical Mgła track – how could it be otherwise? “IV” also emphasizes the slower side of the duo’s art, spreading dreary and tragic vibrations. Perhaps my description sounds stale, but this track is heavy, dark and simply fascinating. Nevertheless, relentless, grim and hopeless outbursts like “I” or “VI” are even better. Needless to say that the band has given the songs the right equipment. The guitar-dominated production is flawless, iron and well-grounded.

Mgła, and this is nothing we should be angry about, have evidently no idea how to pen a bad or half-baked song. With his said, it doesn’t hurt very much that “VII” is, in spite of its gigantic length, not the epic monument that crowns the album at the end. After the god-like voice has told its wisdom, the song gains intensity and wins a pretty hypnotic shape, only the final kick is missing. So what; “With Hearts Toward None” reflects pure inner strength and is an album a real black metal maniac must know. And maybe I should replace “know” by “love”.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review by TheOneNeverSeen on February 1, 2023.

"With Hearts Toward None" is one of those albums I love coming back to. While mostly preserving the band's style previously developed on "Groza", it is way more successful than the band's debut at blending the elements of it together, creating a masterwork with an exceptionally remarkable sound and engrossing atmosphere.

The riffs on the album are outstanding. While being written in more or less the same fashion, they don't seem too uniform, making each song remarkable (I didn't enjoy the main riff of "With Hearts Toward None V" as much as the others, but it's still solid and doesn't disappoint). In terms of the overall songwriting, the album is also great. Although there are few tempo changes and no solos or intros/outros as such, the trancing atmosphere of the album, shifting between fear, despondency, triumph, anticipation and all other feelings known to man is impeccable. Unlike lots of atmospheric black metal bands that mostly rely on the catchiness of the main riff and repeat the latter almost unchanged for a half of their 120-hour songs, M. and Darkside complexify their music over time, altering the main riff and then coming back to its "initial" version (most notably on tracks 1 and 7). All of this makes the album more diverse, and its flow – more interesting and entertaining.

The overall sound is extremely pleasant. The ferocious drumming (which isn't redundant blast beats or primitive kick-snare-kick common for the genre) combines nicely with melodic riffs and the solid production, that, despite being cleaner than the one of "Presence" and "Groza", retains the latter's "raw" elements and spirit. I would like to mention the brilliant vocals of M. that sound evil, mysterious and captivating at the same time. Instead of the classic black metal shrieks, he utilizes lower, almost clean singing (diluted by deafened, "ambient" vocals on "With Hearts Toward None III" and "With Hearts Toward None VII").

The lyrics are rather obscure and abstract (I mean, it's atmospheric black metal, what did you expect?) and aren't deprived of epic lines (my personal favorites would be "Steadfastly tearing through aether/I shall rise to the beyond" of "With Hearts Toward None I" and "All hail reapers of hope/All hail the seer of confusion" of "With Hearts Toward None IV"). Generally, the cryptic mood the lyrics evoke corresponds to the overall one of the album.

Long story short, "With Hearts Toward None" is a masterpiece. It combines the traditional atmospheric black metal elements in a unique way, immersing the listener into the rainstorm of its mastery.

Rating: 9 out of 10