Friday, February 24, 2012

Muknal- Muknal(2012)

Muknal- Muknal

As though it were some sort of nefarious artifact, cursed by the Ancient Old Ones with a specter of Death, Muknal creates an air of unease. Filtering through your headphones or speakers as though it were made swamp matter, it furiously suffocates the room. Atmospheric is pretty much an understatement here. Muknal's debut EP is as mature and massively evil as it can possibly be, and shows a conceptual strength that so few bands maintain over an album, or even achieve. And to think this is the bands first release sends chills down my spine.

Musically, it is pretty easy to place Muknal; firmly entrenched in the massive Occult Black/Death movement taking over the underground. But one listen to this EP also shows just how much separation Muknal has from the greater pack; it's all here. All of it. Unlike many contemporary releases spawned from this vile pit at the heart of the underground, Muknal hits all the major stylistic high-points, then exceeds them in the following composition. Not since Dead Congregation's Grave of the Archangels have I heard a single album just nail every single thing that makes a genre truly great: the perfect combination of atmosphere, aggression and compositional complexity.

Seems like a lot of praise for a three song EP no? I mean come on: it's not like this sound hasn't be done to death. Impetuous Ritual released the same damn album in 2009 for fuck's sake. Dense, static choked Occult Black/Death is as played out a genre as any in music today. You can't turn around without awkwardly rubbing up against the ass of an Incantation and Portal clone. True enough. Muknal are not treading new ground here. And this is something I can be critical of... when done is an obviously generic and lifeless way.

Muknal is anything but generic or lifeless. It's practically static with sheer electricity. Everything about is so perfectly calibrated: the tortured guttural vocals, the dense guitar tone, the meaty and massive production. The whole thing is done with such masterful attention to detail and genuine attempts at originality. The heavy use of electronic sounds and noise, the perfectly drawn out atmospheric compositions, the true sense of dread and hopelessness... all of it is just brilliantly realized and maximized.

Muknal may not re-invent the Atmospheric Holocaust, but it certainly commit atrocities and forces intense introspection like no other end time's dirge that I have heard. And what's even more impressive is that despite this level of density, there is also something so inviting about the album. This album doesn't leave you feeling breathless and exhausted like so many inhumanly thick and bleak albums. It's a crushing piece of perfect genre crafting that you can listen to again and again. What more can we possibly expect?

Rating: 9/10

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