Minsk, Belarus’ black metal outfit Mora Prokaza released their third full-length album “By Chance” on July 3rd. Four years since their last release in 2016, “Dark Universe.” The group started off as a pure black metal band ever since they formed in 2013 and started releasing music starting in 2015, but with this recent release they have decided to get more experimental by adding trap and hip-hop.
The album starts off with “WIMG”, which opens with a quiet march of trumpets accompanied with a small trap beat that leads to the rapid raspy vocals of the front man Formakon. The vocals are dark and moody as one would expect from a black metal vocalist, coupled with the rapid vocal delivery which brings a bit of that rapid lyrical style from rappers today. While a good portion of the song sounds like a usual black metal band with the dark guitar riffs also played by Formakon and the double bass playing by Hatestorm, it occasionally shifts to distorted hip-hop beats and down tuned electronics reminiscent of “Eternal Atake.”
“Im Not Yours” follows up with an intro with some calming but dark guitar strums with a bass beat here and there, followed by Formakon doing mumble-rap inspired chanting that sounds like a demon rose up to make a mixtape. The guitars and drums come in to add more of a dark tone to the song which seems to mix in well. The experimentalism continues in the third single “Check It”, which takes a weird turn. For one, it adds saxophone and even an accordion to the mix, bringing a bit of that European musical influence. Like the previous songs, it bounces between dark beats with raspy vocals then transitions to industrial-like black metal producing.
Fomarkon’s vocals on the record are particularly impressive. The 29-year old front man knows how to bring in a dark and almost demonic sound to Mora Prokaza. His raspy screams sound like a chained monster snarling while his almost gasping-like growls feels like he’s trying to steal your soul. While I am not totally sold on the hip-hop influences, his rap-like fast vocals are a nice addition, almost like he is chanting a spell. Drummer Hatestorm is a natural when it comes to the double-bass blast beats. Almost giving off an Inferno from Behemoth vibe by putting some brutality into the music.
The production of this album brings something different to the table with the unique beats being added into the music, similar to GHOSTMANE and Scarlxrd, who are both contributors to the trap metal scene. It caught me by surprise how a couple songs had a good mix of both as the mayhem of black metal and the attitude of trap beats worked well together in songs like “WIMG” and “I’m A Human.” It made them sound aggressive with the beats, while keeping the dark atmosphere that not only shows with their dark wardrobes and corpse paint.
However, there were some songs that sounded just plain random, like in “Check It” with accordion included in there and the country vibes seen in the music video. “Sorry Man” has overly-altered beats playing in the beginning, coupled with a mix of gasping vocals that just sound weird. Even “Madonna” (sorry, no cameo by the Queen of Pop) has weird marimba-like beats being played in the background. “Blacker Than Black,” the closer to the album, is more black metal than the rest of the album. The production of the song sounds like a downgrade from previous releases and the vocals out of sync with certain parts of the song, like Formakon was going at his own pace, while the rest of the instruments tried to follow.
The best tracks are “WIMG” and “Im Not Yours.” “WIMG,” while showing the listener what kind of style mix is to be expected throughout the album, is a perfect opener to reel the listener in with its good blend of aggressiveness while not relying too much on the hip-hop beats. “I'm Not Yours” keeps the somberness of the album and the black metal genre present with it’s brooding guitar work that sets the mood along with Formakon chanting along with his monstrous vocals that pulls the listener into the music.
While there were a couple good songs on “By Chance,” I personally am not sold on the idea of mixing hip-hop beats to metal genres, especially genres like black metal. For this album and this new direction for Mora Prokaza should just be a one-off release rather than a concrete transition for the band.