Label: Atomic Fire Records
Date: February 4th, 2022
At the risk of sounding like a thousand year old, I’m standing proud in uttering these words. There’s a special kind of magic in the new material of forgotten heroes. Something like the last year’s Yoth Iria album. Give these old dogs a couple of new tricks of the trade and fireworks are about to go off!
I mean, they stepped outside of the norm once before. They went above and beyond the expected back in the day. So, what’s to stop them from going at it again? Nothing but their own damn selves! Creative mind, a truly creative one, is never to be tamed by anyone else.
Mystic Circle went from being the pillars of the German branch of this new thing called (second wave) black metal to underrated idols of the few devotees. They extinguished the blaze without watering it down. Before becoming “a cool thing” or a magnet for the rich and shameless labels. With their reputation intact, they still gained a deal with a growing inferno of a publisher. And now, under the wing of Atomic Fire Records, the guys unleashed a majestic self-titled album.
Majestic really is a good word to describe it. Like I hinted above, they retained their trademarks and enhanced it to a dark spectacle. With just a few tricks of the new millennium, like production, for one, which finally gives them justice. Bombastic, but still rough around the edges, preserving the original feel.
More notably, their songs grew in aggressive aspect. There’s still the melodic line Mystic Circle is best known for, but wrapped in ravaging wrath. Keyboards are preserved and even uplifted a bit in the mix, compared to their previous releases. They keep their presence in the soundscape, as well as in the formation of the songs’ impact on the listener. However, you need to keep in mind that the Germans do not fall for the trap of becoming a symphonic metal band. Even if the technical side of the band was never questionable. Mystic Circle keeps its weapons in formation and attacks simultaneously, across a wide front.
Basically, if the money didn’t corrupt black metal at the end of the 1990’s, this is what it would have sounded now. Mystic Circle has kept the essence, used the accessibility of current equipment to their advantage and headed for the goal. And scored!
Okay, the opening of “The Arrival of Baphomet” sounds a tad like taken from “One Road to Asa Bay”. The lyrics are as predictable as possible, though not as shallow as many simpletons are spewing. You can claim it’s just a Dark Funeral / Immortal / early Dimmu Borgir / early Emperor spin-off. You can even argue that they haven’t even tried moving the genre forward. They didn’t. What they did do is move Mystic Circle’s legacy a step upward. Not that it was neglectable to begin with.
This is a massive name on the scene. Now, with this record piercing like a Teutonic axe through a Roman armor, the limit to what can be achieved is non-existent. Mystic Circle is back, hopefully to stay for years to come.
P. S. There’s a bonus to a digipack version of the record. Perhaps the best cover of “Death Metal” I’ve ever heard. And it’s not like I haven’t heard just about a hundred of them.