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Mistur - In Memoriam

Mistur
In Memoriam
by Lauren Fonto at 27 July 2016, 10:34 PM

I remember enjoying MISTUR a few years ago and how they became dormant. I was therefore pleased to see that they had a new album out. The question in my mind was: Would MISTUR live up to the memories I had of their previous work?

From a structural viewpoint, “In Memoriam” reminds me a little bit of Viking-era BATHORY: Many elements of Black Metal are present, but it’s not as raw as some Black Metal material. I’d say that the most distinctive Black Metal elements are the rasped vocals and the generous use of blastbeats. It’s not rare these days for classical elements to mingle with Black Metal, nor is it a new thing (EMPEROR were masters of mixing those styles years before MISTUR). The piano parts are well done throughout the album, especially on the sombre intro of “Tears of Remembrance”. While I enjoyed the classical elements, I struggled to get my head around the inclusion of the Hammond organ. I felt that it was slightly out of place on “Downfall”, for example. I’m no purist when it comes to Metal, but somehow the organ parts didn’t quite work for me.

Misgivings about the organ aside, I felt that the song writing was a high point on the album. There are interesting contrasts between softer and heavier parts throughout. “Distant Peaks” starts with blastbeats, with the synths adding to the atmosphere. The song later switches to a slower interlude, with a great solo. Most of the songs on “In Memoriam” are fairly long, so the tempo changes held my interest without making the songs incoherent. The music itself is also engaging enough to sustain interest. To get back to the synths: Espen Bakketeig’s synths work very well throughout the album; the classical instrument parts are used at just the right moments. The violin parts on “Matriarch’s Lament” portray an atmosphere of grief and loss, while a mournful solo emphasizes these moods.

Oliver Øien’s rasped vocals are powerful, yet tinged with emotion. The consistency of Øien’s extreme vocals add to their power. He doesn’t falter on a single note, as far as I can tell. The clean vocal parts harmonise well with the extreme vocals, but perhaps the clean parts could’ve been mixed a bit higher for these parts.

Tomas Myklebust’s drumming sounds precise throughout the album, without sounding robotic. I found it impossible to not move my head during “Distant Peaks” and “Firstborn Son”. The latter starts slowly, then builds up to powerful blastbeats and an icy howl from Øien.

Guitarists Stian Bakketeig (lead) and Andrè Raunehaug (rhythm) maintain balance between their respective parts – the phrasing of the solos fits in with the rhythm guitars, and the rhythm parts keep things grounded. “The Sight” contains a beautiful, slow solo with well-placed bends, while I enjoyed the harmonised solo on “Tears of Remembrance”. On “Matriarch’s Lament”, simpler parts create an interesting contrast with the solo that follows the build-up. The well done segues between the “movements” of the songs is a strong point throughout.

MISTUR have made the wait for a new album worth it. The album grew on me with each listen. Although the album ultimately isn’t revelatory, it is nonetheless an entertaining and enjoyable listen, and a solid addition to the Viking/Black Metal stable.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Downfall
2. Distant Peaks
3. Firstborn Son
4. Matriarch’s Lament
5. The Sight
6. Tears of Remembrance
Lineup:
Espen Bakketeig - Synth, Vocals, and Programming
Stian Bakketeig - Guitars
Andrè Raunehaug - Guitars
Bjarte Breilid - Bass
Tomas Myklebust - Drums
Oliver Øien - Vocals
Record Label: Dark Essence Records
     


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