At the helm of this Spanish black metal project is Heolstor who has his creative fingers in other projects. Prior to becoming Mystagos this project was called Chains Ov Beleth for about a decade before changing name. Black metal itself has a multitude of subgenres and Mystagos fits into an array of these such is the variety and ingenuity that has been envisioned and conjured up.
As the opening opacity of “Adam Kadmon” starts up you are thrust into a quagmire of obsidian sludge before the tune switches to a blasting foray. There are tenets of Svartidauði and other densely riddled black metal outfits but as you nestle comfortably into the song it offers something far more sinister via a creepily inserted guitar hook all the while delivering a discordant aura. Totally changing the style is “Solve” where clean vocal soaring complements the melodic structure of the riffing similar to latter day Satyricon and to some extent the newer Watain material though the speed is strictly restrained preferring a despairing ethos amidst a dissonant melancholy.
Returning to the obliterating speed is “Empire Of Bones” a song saturated in bleakness as it deviates to a texturized riffing base that produces a truly disturbing atmosphere that borders an Industrial leaning due to the mechanised nature of the beat. Once again that inherent creepiness crawls in through “Ritual” where the blasting assault is peppered with a variety of hooks layered with fine clean vocal additions possessing a pagan like quality and slight drifting echo on the mix creating an excellent effect.
The rather strange “Shamdon” is riddled with avant-garde tendencies courtesy of the vocals and a repeating bass line that hints at other acts such as Root and the aforementioned Satyricon and even the weirdness of Slagmaur. Punishingly slow with a doom like posture is “The Weight Of A Burial Shroud” as a monastic like vocal is inserted producing a funereal like dirge that is as depressive as it is oppressive with only the latter section offering any uplift to the misery it inflicts. Closing the album is “Wind Of Death”, (yes I’ve covered every track in this review because every single one is different), a melodic extravaganza immersed in a despondent ambience that will make you utterly miserable, but in a good way. Being the longest track the song explores every countenance of a sorrowful morass before the gradual and incremental increase in pace offers some light within the atramentous gloom. As the song escalates to the blast beat that sordid sonic murk is dispersed somewhat but lingers forebodingly in the background due to the overt density of the song but also the pummelling nature of the drumming which I especially liked on this album.
If you are wanting an auditory experience that takes you down avenues of unworldly sonic exploration then Mystagos is for you.
(8.5/10 Martin Harris)