Mysteria
Temple of the Scorn

Mysteria hails from Poland and promises an expansive, avant-garde mix of death, black and folk. Sounds intriguing….

Opener “Mulla Xul” kicks off the proceedings on a promising, if not familiar note. Churning thunder, monstrous growls and ancient, Sumerian-styled bombast. It’s heavily reminiscent of countrymates Behemoth, but less epic. Nothing terribly progressive or forward-thinking either, but still, it’s a good start.

Follow-up “Undying” brings more elements into play. Growls trade off with a nasal version of a Chuck Billy thrash vocal, like priests communing with their abyss-dwelling death gods. Riffs are faster and more fragmented, culminating in a whirling sandstorm attack. However, like most acts attempting to go progressive, there are a lot of ideas here, but the flow doesn’t quite grab me.

Strangely enough, the progressive attempts are scattershot throughout the album. Tracks like “Terroritory” stick pretty close to death metal pacing and structure, and while “Respect for Evil” or “Pestilence of Mind” move more towards a faster black/death hybrid, there’s not much here that can be called progressive. Not a whole lot of folk either, aside from the occasional acoustic interlude or the priestly chant that opens “Awakening”. In fact, there’s way more thrash coursing through these tracks than those other elements, regardless of what the PR writeup promises, from choppy breaks to shouted clean vocals (very Hetfield).

So it seems that what we have here are misled expectations. Taken on its own, as a thrashy death act, Mysteria is fine, but I think what really fails to excite me is the reliance on Eastern/Sumerian melodies and motifs. It’s been done to death, mummified, prayed over and then revived again and again. It’s neither fresh nor original anymore. Admirable as their attempts may be, Mysteria cannot compete with Nile‘s explosive technicality, Akercocke‘s lush, inspired madness or Septic Flesh‘s orchestral pomp. (And that’s not even mentioning Belphegor, Stormlord or Orphaned Land. Or Al-Namrood, who actually hail from the area.)

Here’s an idea: Mysteria are from Poland – there’s got to be some interesting Polish folk or ancestral music to pull from – especially given that the promised folk element was barely used here. But let the other bands do the Eastern thing, ‘cause it’s becoming a really crowded scene.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
November 13th, 2008

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