2012 has been more stressful than a motherfucker; probably one of the most all-around stressful years of my life. Buying a house + assorted family and work-related issues that I wouldn’t even dream of getting into here managed to turn the year into a goddamn pressure-cooker. I’m pretty sure the only things that kept me alive were my wife’s unwavering love (and limitless patience) and an avalanche of incredible music. In 2011 I was feeling pretty jaded and dissatisfied with the state of heavy metal, this year I found myself feeling better about things than I have in years. That isn’t to say there weren’t great albums released in 2011, there were, but in 2012 I felt like there was so much greatness that I couldn’t possibly keep up with it all.
Poland is a country that can seemingly be relied upon year after year to produce some of the best metal the underground has to offer. I’m not sure if it’s a case of that old cliché of there being “something in the water,” or if the country’s devoutly religious social/political climate only serves to turn a portion of its citizens into equally devout practitioners of the dark musical arts, but there is definitely something about Poland that seems to guarantee a steady stream of highly impressive bands. Krakow’s Mgla are certainly no exception to the rule, and their second album, the magnificently crafted With Hearts Toward None, is one of the best black metal albums you’re likely to hear in 2012 and beyond.