Friday, July 06, 2012

Mystagog: . . . of Old (2011)

Unblessing the Black Metal Purity

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards Etc., home of metal, beards, and more.

Mystagog are a Hungarian black metal duo who released their debut album "...of Old" in December of last year. According to Metal Archives the band has already split up, but the same pair have collaborated before as part of another group, so I don't really know if any future exists for these two or not.

This album is really, really lo-fi black metal. That is of prime importance, because it dictates the remainder of the listening experience.

I'm perfectly fine with a degree of low quality production, but this album goes beyond the likes of old Darkthrone in its lack of audio clarity. Additionally, the volume of the vocals is a bit low, and drums are really quiet. As a result, it's often difficult to make out much beyond the guitars unless you crank up the volume and listen closely. The vocals which do come through are hoarse, raspy snarls befitting the style. The drumming seems a little weak in terms of speed and ferocity, which is perhaps why they elected not to pull them into the foreground in the mix. The guitar riffs sound good, weaving a dense wall of ice through the middle of every track. To be honest, though, they tend to lack variation. By the fifth or sixth track it was beginning to wear on me a little, and I found myself really hoping for a change of pace. No such change came. On that basis, I feel like this album would have been more effective as an EP, since 36 minutes is a bit long to spend listening to essentially the same song again and again.

Now I know that's a lot of bad right there, but the album really isn't flat-out terrible by any stretch. The riffs they have work well, they just need more of them. As such, I can see playing a song or two off this album, I just wouldn't sit the whole way through the record again. And on the up side, these guys play straight, unadulterated black metal with no clean vocals, keyboards, or other bells and whistles to detract from the pure ugliness they've created. Purists on the search for more underground material will probably find this enjoyable, though I doubt many others will. Clearly that's what the band was going for, though, so I guess "mission accomplished."

With a little bit better production and more variety, this could be a pretty strong black metal record. As it is, it's somewhat listenable but not especially noteworthy.

The Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Neverheard Distro

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