In the mid-nineties, Mystic Circle looked and sounded like the German counterparts to symphonic acts like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. My first impression of the band’s third album “Infernal Satanic Verses”, released in 1999, was an indelible experience. Although I’m not quite familiar with the entire discography, my notion towards the band hasn’t changed. Now sixteen years after calling it quits, founding members Beelzebub (vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards) and A. Blackwar (vocals, guitars, drums, and keyboards) have channeled the symphonic force of black metal once more, hence beginning a new era of the band. The self-titled album delivers brilliant musicianship, and arguably the eighth album is their most aggressive and melodic piece of cruel and menacing black metal.
Opening track “Belial is My Name” encompasses a manifold of forms. The clarity of the production and composition creates a raging storm, ravenous screeches, and superb guitar melodies, all perfectly balanced. The pompous swell of the keyboards contrast to the tremolo riffing. Mystic Circle proves that their music isn’t about cheesy gimmicks. Musically speaking, the eighth album is powerful and captivating, the guitar work flows quite well with the furious drums. “Seven Headed Dragon” then sees the duo channeling these efforts to create fierce aggression, Mystic Circle ensures a whole new level of accomplishment.
For instance, the keyboards have enough space and they seem fairly balanced without sounding too loud, the whole weight given to the guitars and drums. There are a ridiculous amount of blast beats that will leave you overwhelmed by the sheer aggression. Mystic Circle succeeded in creating a beast of an album and the songs highlight the shrewd musicianship. The songs are structured on lead guitars with catchy rhythm sections and sinister black metal growls that showcase the significant force of the duo. “Hell Demons Rising” adheres to the melodic core of the band, and it feels like Mystic Circle has grasped the classic tunes of the second wave of black metal. Taking a mid-paced tempo on this track, the music reflects on the past where the cold riffing captures every melodic variation. The guitars echo loudly and the piano lines add beautiful textures with the screeching vocals, manifesting the sinister charisma of the band.
“Letters from the Devil” is defined with the guitar performance while the drums add a tremendous power, the swelling melodies convey enough diversity. Although nothing is mind-blowing here, Mystic Circle managed to mix all these elements to perfection. The guitars are diversified and they don’t lean too much on the tremolos, instead everything here sounds ballsy. “Mystic Circle” is probably everything the band has lacked in the past. The ravenous passion and powerful dynamics on “Darkness In Flames” are brought with grandiosity. The symphonic elements are steeped in the band’s trademarks. Without sounding overly symphonic, the keyboards create subtle layers and there is always a thin line for the guitars to unleash a sufficient amount of tremolos.
Beelzebub and A. Blackwar make use of bleak gothic samples while they also display excellent technicality. The drums are triggered by insane rounds of blast beats hence giving great results. “The Arrival of Baphomet” extremely fits the band’s aesthetic and sound. The use of synth offers a grandiose touch without losing the overall intensity. Mystic Circle maintains the momentum and strength of the guitars and the drums. The song arrangement is by far the most meticulous and complex work the band has ever done.
While there is great improvement in their sound and craft, Mystic Circle could have added some more memorability to the songs. “Curse of the Wolf Demon” offers some melodic lead guitars but they’re somehow not catchy enough. Despite the minor criticism and some more monotonous moments, the second half of the track gears up to a more atmospheric vibe. With the subtle synth and operatic female vocals complementing each other, the final track “Satanic Mistress” offers plenty of blast beats where the tremolo-picked riffs are used frequently. I found the first half of the album more appealing to me, but with that being said, Mystic Circle’s newest album is the band’s best outing since “Damien”.
Release Date: February 4th, 2022
Label: Atomic Fire Records
- Belial Is My Name
- Seven Headed Dragon
- Hell Demons Rising
- Letters From the Devil
- Darkness in Flames
- The Arrival of Baphomet
- Curse of the Wolf Demon
- Satanic Mistress
- Death Metal (Possessed cover)