Release: August 1st, 2021 Genre: Black Metal Origin: Massachusetts, US Label: Self-released Listen: Bandcamp Having relished the band&#...

Ushangvagush - Mntu

Release: August 1st, 2021
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Massachusetts, US
Label: Self-released
Listen: Bandcamp

Having relished the band's first demo Inanition in 2019, I got around to listen to Ushangvagush's debut a bit later than the rest of the world and after the fair amount of praise it got from the internet. Since the last listening session, I didn't remember what to expect from this but the wonderful cover served well as a hinting reminder of what might possibly be a great release for this year, or at least that's what I hoped. And it is partially the case, as the project's highly emotive playing style with just the right melodic tactics is here to be appreciated by many non-regular black metal listeners: prepare for comments like "I don't usually... (...) ... but this ...

First things first, points given for Mntu not being a one more faceless record in the crowd. It's powerful at several moments, written in the band's own way and it has a fairly raw production, that's quite listenable (not cavernous raw BM from the depths) but still not polished. The vocals sound beautifully distressed, while it's unclear what the lyrics are about and in general, before you think that Ushangvagush have invented their own language, the strange words of band name / album title / track titles comes from Miꞌkmaq, which traces back to the indigenous tribes of Northeastern Canada. Mntu opens with a banger, and possibly a highlight track "I", which features some of the heavier moments of the record and a great introduction, it's as intense as it gets and will have the listened hooked on the spot. 

As it is sometimes dangerous with albums like these, more often than we would like, it's a dominant track opening up a record and then things blow out later on. I personally was on the verge of getting into this mindset with Mntu, even though the quality of all of the album's content is evident. Ushangvagush's prominence lies in the expression of emotion and talks more on that particular side of black metal musically, so it's not aggressive in the sense of traditional hatred or misanthropy that is met otherwise. It is not one of the failing cases of such execution, on the contrary the band rocks. For me personally though, some tracks in Mntu just didn't click, specifically parts in "Amasia's Letter" and "VII", or the whole of "Npuaqan Ms't Wen Sama'i'j", I found repetitive and at times, mundane. 

On the other hand, the first two tracks are favorable and the outro instrumental offers adequate guitar lines (even if it seems simplistic at first), and the overall impression Ushangvagush leaves to me leans on the positive end of the spectrum. Mntu will move a lot of people and it has what it takes to be considered a fine, legit black metal album in the underground. Even if I didn't absolutely fancy all of its tracks, the first recognizable step of this project is making its own mark. 

Damage: 3/5 [Good]