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Fury above the controversy - 78%

Paganbasque, March 6th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Narcoleptica Productions

Mulla is a rather new project as it was founded in 2020. Regarding this obscure project all the information is plagued by rumours and little certainty. Even the date of creation of Mulla could be doubtful as the debut full-length was released in January, so I presume the members behind this project were working on it prior to 2020. In any case, it has been some controversy around them as they initially claimed to come from Iraq, not a good place to play modern music, let alone black metal, and later France, which also seems to be dubious information.

Leaving behind all this stuff it is much more interesting to focus on the music and let it to speak by itself. Mulla`s debut album was pretty well received, with its solid mixture of raw black metal and an inherent atmosphere behind the superficial fury. Normally, I don´t enjoy so much bands with this level of rawness, though Mulla seems to be one an exception as its compositions have something captivating, and they still retain the necessary atmosphere that this genre should have. Its second release entitled ‘هل تحتاج إلى’ is an EP that contains two new songs and follows similar patterns already listened in the debut album. Unsurprisingly, the production is remarkably raw, especially in how the guitars are produced. The riffs have a crushing and rough touch, which a core characteristic of this project. Despite of this the balance is quite fine as the drums, guitars and vocals are easily distinguishable and audible, which is a good point. The initial song is maybe the less interesting one as it has a quite predictable structure. The pace is nearly the same in its seven minutes length, lacking some tempo-changes and variety, that would make it more interesting. Although this, the song itself is still enjoyable as it has the immersive nature of Mulla’s compositions, partially thanks to the guitar work and the way the vocals are recorded. Speaking about the vocals, they are reasonably solid with a distinctive putrid tone, which fits perfectly well with Mulla`s evil sound. The second song of this EP is more interesting, maybe thanks to its generous length, clocking around nineteen minutes. The first time I listened to it Burzum came to my mind, as it irremediably reminds me some classic tunes from this legendary Norwegian project, especially its longest tracks where there was a more interesting balance between the speedy sections and the slower ones. It is a song not sorely focused on being fast as it has a greater room for mid-tempo structures, though it has some tempo-changes here and there and the speedy sections are obviously present. The slower sections make this composition even more tenebrous than the initial track as it has a profound abysmal sound. The slower, murky, and dissonant riffs help to create this ambience and reinforce the captivating and eery atmosphere of Mulla`s music.

All in all, this is an interesting and enjoyable EP though it doesn´t differ too much from the debut album. The stuff contained here is very good and it makes me wonder what this duo can offer in future releases.

Almost continuous whirlwind noise-guitar BM without beginning or end - 85%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 13th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Who'd have thought that such exceptionally cold and extremely brutal and crushing raw black metal could have come out of a country not usually associated with blizzards and snowstorms - a country that instead has hot deserts and sandstorms - a country like Iraq? Only into their second major release and already mystery horde Mulla have perfected their style of churning, grinding chainsaw-noise BM tremolo guitar racket into a fine art that recalls classic Norwegian 1990s black metal acts like Burzum and Darkthrone. True, on this EP Mulla only offer two songs short of a total running time of 27 minutes and the entire recording ends all too suddenly - but with the unstable political situation in their home country Iraq, with foreign military occupation and the ever-present threat of extremist religious fanatics like ISIS and al Qa'eda armed to the teeth with weapons, a band's gotta do what changing and potentially dangerous circumstances limit it to do.

On both the two tracks the music is a continuous whirlwind of the most blisteringly raw and scourging pointillist BM noise guitar corrosion, going on and on until the music must have worn down entire mountain ranges in less than half an hour. The whirlwind twists and turns, coughing out powerful steely acid-sting guitar drone, stern and relentless riffing and rhythms, and above all those irritable crabby demon voices. The two songs may be very forbidding but their riffs are quite catchy and hooky.

While Track 1 is a good straight-out demonstration of almost continuous raw blizzard guitar noise, Track 2 has more atmosphere (no doubt helped by samples of blowy Arctic winds) and in parts has even an experimental attitude to drawing out and manipulating highly corrosive guitar tone drones. The evil voice appears to be presiding over an unspeakably horrific sacrificial ritual while human victims quaver in a cramped cage. The riffs may not be much out of the ordinary and for some odd reason I feel that I've heard many of them in other BM folks' songs and album, but that churning steel sound gives those riffs a bristling aggression and sheer raw energy. Even solo lead guitar in later parts of Track 2 draws energy and passion from those corrosive raw riffs.

Though the songs are uneven in length, and one of these songs could have given up a few minutes of music and lyrics to the other, they work well as both individual tracks that happen to be on the same album or as parts of a highly immersive and darkly evil sonic universe where a roaring noise chaos without beginning or end has been circulating continuously. If there is one thing I'd have liked to hear a bit more of, this would be a bit more experimentation with the sound, the textures and the speed of the chaotic guitar maelstrom: slowing it down, speeding it up, making it louder or softer, and emphasising the cutting sharpness of the guitar tones to give the monster a bit more variety and dynamism. But as it is, this recording is as evil as it damn well gets!