Groza – The Redemptive End Review

I was tentative about taking this album. I was familiar with Groza’s debut Unified in Void from 2018, granting it a casual listen and making that “not bad” Obama Rage Comic face from 2012. If one peruses the Metallum profile of these Germans, you’ll be graced with the shocking sight of a whopping 0% average review score from three reviews. Why, you ask? Probably because — and maybe this is obvious given the act’s name and a certain Polish full-length debut — Groza sounds a hell of a lot like Mgła. That’s unfair, awarding no merit to an album simply because it imitates another. I mean, if fans cancelled every act that sounded like Transilvanian Hunger, we’d have no black metal left. Groza, Groza — it all sounds, uh, Slavic(?) to me.

Groza is an anonymous German black metal quartet who clearly likes Mgła. While Unified in Void channeled Mgła’s approach to plodding fury, overlays of melody, and an aptly dark atmosphere, it earned a glowing 3.5 from Mark Z. As he deemed it, Groza is “Mgła for the working man, using the same musical elements to craft songs that are shorter and punchier.” The Redemptive End attempts to step aside from its dime-a-dozen influences in a folkier and more post-rocky approach to melodic black. Truthfully, I disagree with my Funky Bunch colleague about Unified in Void’s solidness, but I see The Redemptive End as a clear improvement that fires on all cylinders despite playing it a little too close to the vest.

Melody is a huge component of The Redemptive End. Moments of nearly post-rock crystallinity pervade transitions, while somber reverb-laden plucking floats atop the pummeling blackened portions with the fluidity of water. There is something distinctly natural about The Redemptive End compared to its predecessor. Groza alternates between punishing outbursts and emotional melodic passages in each track, connected by a nearly Falls of Rauros or Bloodbark style of organic songwriting. The two parts of “Sunken in Styx” illustrate this dichotomy beautifully, as the first part “Submersion” is as gloomy as it gets, beautiful melodies cascading down the foggy cliff, while “Descent” illustrates the blackened edge that The Redemptive End holds in store. Furthermore, “Elegance of Irony” deals with a blend of shredding and plodding, while the riffy title track and closer “Homeward” offer bouncy rhythms and passages of meditative plucking and bass noodling that morph into climactic tremolos in dynamic tour de forces. Groza’s guitar tone is exceptionally apt, balancing razor precision with heft, while the mix complements the sturdy percussion and sermonic roars.

It would be tempting to say that Groza has succeeded in escaping the Mgła copycat status. Any act damned with 0% deserves someone in their corner, and I hoped that the Germans would blow the haters out of the water, but the comparison remains fair. All tracks revolve around raw-ish riffs, repeating melodies, and an emphasis on rhythmic bounce. Perhaps the one true departure from Mgła is the folkier Horn-esque atmosphere fused with an icier tone, but repeated spins are necessary to make that distinction. The transitions in the second part of “Sunken in Styx” are frail and can feel jarring, while “Nil” feels relatively limp compared to the tracks surrounding it. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of The Redemptive End is its relative safeness, which inevitably leads to comparisons. It has all the elements, songwriting, and execution of a good blackened time in lovely melodies, catchy riffs, and vicious vocals, but does nothing that really excels aside from a solid forty-three minutes of blackened escapism.

I was truly rooting for Groza, and thankfully enjoyed my time with The Redemptive End. It’s melodic, well-written, and powerfully climactic in the right ways, and each listen warrants more treasures unearthed. It does pose a bit of a dilemma in that its similarity to Mgła remains unscathed, just slightly adjusted, calling into question the issue of mimicry to begin with. We can easily stomach Darkthrone copycats and Immortal mimics, but Mgła seems to remain off-limits? That being said, while Groza does have all the ingredients for a delicious black metal platter and their potential is obscenely obvious, it just hasn’t all come together yet. The Redemptive End does not have much blatantly wrong with it, glowing with an organic melodic approach and unafraid to embrace the darkness. But thanks to an ease of comparison and/or a hesitation to experiment, Groza’s solid sophomore effort is neither slump nor resounding success as much as it is business as usual.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AOP Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 30th, 2021

« »