This whole experience started a day early with something dubbed “Apocalyptic road trip”. It guided me away from Belgrade. To Novi Sad, about ninety kilometres away to an open air performance of Apocalyptica. A spectacle, as their show ever was, served as a perfect introduction into the black metal apocalypse that was to ensue just a day later.
Considering the Finnish cellists were a wish of my own rather than a professional assignment, I will spare you further details. However, the Polish trinity was something I was making sure to miss. Not being a massive fan of Mgła and not even having heard about any of the opening acts before, there was no real incentive for me to venture into Belgrade’s youth center. Other than feeling as young as possible, but that’s a whole other story.
Luckily enough, the organizers of Apocalyptica’s performance failed to deliver on enough beer taps, so a sober mind welcomed a black metal Saturday. Opened by the youngest of the three, Odium Humani Generis, the show turned fairly south of hell. The quartet, at first, seemed absolutely majestic. A summary of traditional Norwegian and Polish version of the same black metal. Second wave, naturally, though enhanced a bit with a theatrical musicality, not unlike their countrymen Furia. Now, that seemed fine for starters, but as the show progressed, it became increasingly tedious. Especially since the band follows a very similar pattern throughout their creative effort. Hence, lacking any catchier moments and with vocals being scarcely used, Odium Humani Generis didn’t leave a lasting impression on yours truly.
On the other hand, what followed was a much more successful product of ever-fruitful Polish black metal scene. In Twilight’s Embrace is not a young commando, nearing the two decade mark in their existence. This experience absolutely shows in their sound and particularly in their performance. In that regard, the band is probably the most straight-forward black metal of the three that haunted the stage that night. Residing on the foundations laid by Mayhem, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Marduk and other originators of the genre, In Twilight’s Embrace present black metal as it was. Little to no add-ons to the original style, only their own view of it, meaning they are far from a copycat, though strongly connected to the roots.
But it was actually the convincing, larger than life, appearance of a frontman that made them the highlight of the evening in my mind. Mr. Cyprian Łakomy asserted his dominance on the stage the very second he stepped on it. Discussing it with the man after the show was over, he declared the classic rock frontmen as his role models. Jim Morrison’s name in particular caught my ear. And you know what!? If you want to know what it would be like to see “the lizard king” rule over a band of black metal minstrels, come into the twilight’s embrace.
As for Mgła, I already declared myself not a fan. Admittedly, they sounded amazing and the crowd reaction was over the moon. As far as I could gather, the set-list was positively received by the fans, so the band has managed to prove their reputation and status as well-deserved leaders of 21st century black metal.
Not to waste any more of your precious time, as you already know what is to be expected of Mgła live, otherwise you would be long gone from this report by now, the conclusion would be that it was a decent night of Polish black metal. What’s more, the country’s black metal scene’s profile as arguably the leader in continental Europe stands undisputed. With three names on the bill standing strong, with all their shortcomings and my personal taste aside, Poland rules the continent with an iron fist.
Photos by Strahinja Rupnjak