MNRVA's Black Sky (self-released)

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There’s a tendency for doom metal, in its languorous pacing and thick walls of distortion, to mask its emotional range. 

With its debut EP, Black Sky, the Columbia trio MNRVA cuts through the haze with compelling intention. From the opening song, “Not the One,” the band parys the clouds of its Electric Wizard-worthy fuzz riff to declare, “What makes you treat me like you do? / I don’t have to take your s#!t anymore.” And soon after, the trio wields its hook like a blunt instrument: “Suffering you’ll be / Suffering without me.” It’s the sort of bold kiss-off that one might expect from a tough-guy hard rock band, but here, it feels as much like cursing the heavens as cursing an ex. 

This tendency to push a clear statement through the sludge of its low-end stomp is a definitive trait of MNRVA’s first effort, extending even into guitarist Byron Hawk’s melodic fills, which crack like heat lightning against the heavy darkness of the rhythm section of bassist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini. On the title track, the band backs off the “tune low, play slow” mantra of doom enough to allow Hawk an elegant, melodic solo that casts the rest of the song’s burly slog in compelling relief. That balance of bold emotion and obscure fuzz, spacious melody and crashing low-end makes MNRVA’s debut a vibrant entry in the often monochromatic world of doom. — Bryan C. Reed

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