What do I have here? A hardcore album...woooo. Starting off with a strange intro track comprised of militaristic drums and throat chanting, Muga's s/t doesn't give much to expect. Ethnic hardcore, maybe? Ok, whatever, intros are filler anyways, next song. Slow beginning, some feedback fading in, a bit of drums...
And that's the last you'll know of peace for the next half an hour.
"Unleash Before Death" is a raging beatdown delivered with a truly passionate anger, full of such energy that it was scarcely possible for me to stay in my seat. Heavy, thick, and unrelenting, the next two songs blow past without any concern for your well-being. After this, the mood of the album switches a little bit, taking on a bit more of a serious vibe. "Memory" slows things down for some melodic passages with an almost pagan vibe. Imagine Drudkh doing more than watching horses drag dead people through the snow, and you'll get your hopes up in the wrong places, but what Muga do definitely works. This change in mood lingers on for the rest of the album, belying the craziness of the early songs with a more thoughtful approach.
I suppose this material may seem old-hat to people much more familiar with the genre - I know that much of Muga's style comes from the house of HHIG/Tragedy - but there's a unique vibrancy to be found in their music that grabs me where the others don't. It's slightly rough, but in all the right ways, and there's that special gritty Japanese weight to the sound that really makes it hit home.
While the frenetic heaviness of the songs is refreshingly engaging, what really makes the album is the female vocals. This girl fucking slays, and I don't mean that lightly. Her Japanese accent brings to mind a bit of Arkona, but there is no heathen romanticism in her voice, just the pure anger that you only find in punk and hardcore. No clean singing, no airs or tales of epic battles - she's here to tear your fucking balls off with her teeth and spit them in your screaming face. Sadly, she doesn't show up enough, and that leads me to the reason why this doesn't earn a higher score. Aside from a couple points in the album that didn't quite engage me (they're definitely at their best when they stick to faster tempos), I really wanted to hear more of her. If there had been more balance of her and the bloke, this probably would have gotten a perfect from me. Sadly, this is the only material they've done with her, and I seriously cannot find any information about her at all. If any of you pit-ninjas know more, especially any other projects she was in, you have to let me know.
Hardcore fans who haven't heard this should check it out for sure, but anyone else who's on the fence like me should give it a go as well. It's wild, fun, and above everything else, heavy as a pit full of fat people. It might also appeal to fans of Japanese metal like Corrupted or Church of Misery.
Verdict: Win [4/5]
http://www.last.fm/music/muga (there's really nothing substantial about them on the web)