...of Old

My boys and I sometimes look under the stones around our property. We know what we will usually find – dry, dusty things, the occasional beetle, maybe some fungus. Occasionally we are surprised by a lizard or newt, if it is wet enough.

And so it goes with bands like Mystagog, from Hungary. I know what I am going to get: dry, scraping and lo-fi black metal hymnals, all crowded around the altar of Transilvanian Hunger worship. It’s still good to look sometimes though. You might find something different.

The album cover catches your eye, but what’s inside is not much different than what you’ve heard before. It doesn’t contribute anything terribly new to the style, but it’s a good solid example. You know the sound: a subterranean, insectoid buzz; a steady beat like drums from the deep; a scrawl of ragged vocals. Darkthrone is buried nearby but their grave is open to the sky above, icy and yawning and empty. This sound is a bit more full and crowded with debris; an underground cocoon stuffed with bits of dead leaves and bone and rotting loam.

The tracks are not so much independent songs as they are just all adjacent or branching passages in the same dim labyrinth. More meditations on the same theme than compositions. Once in awhile one of them picks up a bit of punky attitude, but not really enough to get you to move around. Better to rot in place than to get up and shamble about. These zombies are lazy and would much rather dream.

It’s amazing that almost 20 years after that seminal cipher of an album, band after band from around the world continues to recreate that classic sound. (This version might as well have been called Transilvanian Hungary.) You can chalk that up to gangly first steps, lack of imagination, or perhaps a ritualistic homage or tribute. This band is five years old and now split-up, so you decide.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
July 30th, 2012


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    puns ahoy!

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