Their fourth album Verses of Fire was 61 minutes of top quality Extreme Metal and was a welcome experience that was a slight change of direction from their earlier, purer Black Metal approach. That album brought more Death Metal influences into the mix, although their Blackened side was still a huge component in their sound.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Mysterium relegates the Death Metal influences to the back seat and their Black Metal roots get to set the direction once more. This is not the more primitive Black/Thrash of their older work though; this is more refined, epic and gloriously sophisticated in its realisation. As such, the songs are generally longer and more involved than their previous averages, and the thick dark aura of the songs is cloying with its aggressive malevolence.
This release is full of Blackened riffs, blasting fury and evocative melodies. There’s a driving majesty that underpins each of the tracks on this album, so regardless of the particular style of music that makes up any given section it’s holistically all brought together by an iron will and a coherent vision. This shouldn’t give the impression of an album that’s “all-over-the-place” or struggling to find an identity as there’s none of that here. Rather, this is sophisticated Black Metal that still takes influences from Death and Thrash Metal, but they’re subsumed into the overarching Blackened style and whatever the band does with these influences is consistent and reasonable within the confines of their sound.
These songs are well-written advanced exemplars of the style and each one brings something extra to the table.
The vocals are dark growling screams, perfectly suited to the environment they find themselves in.
The production of the album is a strong one; it’s huge and powerful yet manages to maintain the feeling of raw, restrained chaos and fettered Blackened evil that the songs exude as easily as breathing.
I was a fan of Versus of Fire, but this is better. The progression of their sound is welcome and it seems that Temple of Baal are one of those bands that are always looking to better themselves and to see what they can do better or different next time. It’s not a massive change in style, of course, but it’s enough to make Mysterium into an extremely compelling and engaging listen.
Overall, this album is a triumph and really, really strong. However, there are times on this release when they really outdo themselves. Sometimes, when the drums are blasting, the rhythm guitars are full of emotive darkness and the leads are exotic and powerful…well…it’s just a hair-raising experience.
Great stuff. I’m very happy with Mysterium.