Mora Prokaza – By Chance Review

Your fifth grade science fair project. Frankenstein’s monster. That godawful sandwich you made of leftover hash browns, macaroni and cheese, hot dog buns, and spaghetti sauce. Said godawful sandwich growing furry mold sitting in the back of your fridge after vowing you’ll eat it later. What do all these have in common? They’re experiments, forays into the unknown. Defying table manners and bringing something tasty that was neither asked for nor expected carries a lot of risk at the black metal table: Deathspell Omega brings chocolate chip cookies,1 while 10:132 brings iced ramen with cheese curds and pesto. They’re both well-intentioned experiments but what lands is another story. Rife with experimentation, will Mora Prokaza’s latest blackened oddity fall into the happy slurpee realm or the “acquired taste” maggot cheese kingdom?

Mora Prokaza is a black metal duo from Belarus, having released two full-lengths, an EP, and a slew of singles since its founding in 2013. While originally leaning hard into the second-wave, third full-length By Chance incorporates an entirely new sonic palette that pays homage to the group’s beginnings while pushing for something new and fresh. What is it, you ask? These Belarusians feature a fusion of black metal and trap music. Throw in a kitchen sink of neo-folk, neoclassical, and other truly odd tricks, and you’ve got yourself a fancy foray into freakishness. Somehow, while Mora Prokaza straddles the line between chaos and cohesion, By Chance, true to its name, ends up being a surprisingly solid expedition into ominous dynamics.

While Mora Prokaza’s elements sound like a bad Iwrestledabearonce black metal album, it’s actually a stunningly subtle listen. It’s a trap album at its core, a foundation of bass-heavy drops and vocal flow straight outta Compton $uicideboy$, with hard-edged electronic DJing that utilizes fuzzy Coldworld-esque black metal tremolo and blastbeats in its emphasis on moody dynamics. This ambitious style serves as By Chance’s foundation. This allows breathing room for some truly bizarre but solid tricks that never overstay their welcome: “I’m Not Yours” and “Be There” utilize dark folk Lord Buffalo plucking that slowly builds into trap-focused areas; “I See It This Way” incorporates passages of Nachtreich neoclassical piano that surprisingly adds to the darkness; and “Check It” incorporates a foundation of Paris cafe music (complete with clarinet, accordion, and tuba) that feels surprisingly evocative. Its frosty black metal tremolo and blastbeats are used as flourish and the pinnacle of track-long dynamics, complementing the duo’s songwriting prowess and finding its staying power in tracks like “Blacker Than Black” and “I See It This Way.” Thanks to its rock-solid foundation, it feels as though these Belarusians have room to experiment without sounding forced.

However, as is inevitable with this level of experimentation, there are moments in which Mora Prokaza’s reach exceeds its grasp. “WIMG” is a rough introduction to the album, as it feels like rampant shock value instead of solid songwriting, jarringly juxtaposing trap beats with black metal explosions. “Madonna” can’t seem to commit to its dark atmosphere and relies on a somewhat limp electronic rhythm, feeling ultimately directionless. Also, this track and the subsequent “Be There” are the only tracks that incorporate clean reverb-laden rapping, which can be extremely jarring to the album’s holistic sound. “Be There” and “I’m a Human” can feel too long in their tricks, while “I See It That Way” can be off-putting in its closing chaotic piano trills. Perhaps most glaringly, if you’re looking for a black metal album in By Chance, prepare to be disappointed, as its trap-centered style may be a turn-off to kvlt loyalists.

Mora Prokaza is weird as shit. While industrial electronic black metal has been done in Psyclon Nine, Thorns, and 3 while staying trve to the kvlt, By Chance gives it the middle finger from atop its turntable and treads it own path with uncompromising charisma. Feeling a bit like a blackened Igorrr, it incorporates bizarre textures in its foray into trap that surprisingly works in evocative ways. It may not make your Album of the Year lists, but make room for By Chance at the top your Weirdest Shit of 2020 list. It may be exciting and fresh to some or, in the immortal words of the poor Mrs. Hollow, “what the fuck is this?” to others. I find myself enjoying this Candy Cane and Honeycomb slurpee combo, but its flavors may be too acquired outlandish for all tongues to handle.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: Bandcamp | Facebook
Releases Worldwide: July 3rd, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. A revolutionary invention.
  2. A n00b experience that should have been graded way lower.
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