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Mystic Circle - Erzdämon Award winner

Mystic Circle
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 29 March 2023, 5:59 AM

Nowadays, with the dominance of digital platforms, it’s uncommon for bands to release an album in a frequency of one or two years, as it was usual during the 80’s and 90’s (because they had to release the album, go out touring for promotion, and other things). There are bands that leave the fans waiting for time lengths of 4 or more years between releases. But just after one year after releasing “Mystic Circle”, the German act MYSTIC CIRCLE is back for another round with “Erzdämon” (German for ‘archdemon’, and the band is using again, as in the past, German names on its albums).

As usual, it must be said that the band (a duet, in reality) trails the traditional way for Melodic Black Metal, or in other words, the use of charming and darkened melodies to temper their abrasive and nasty and personal approach into Black Metal (because they dare to use virtuous and melodic guitar solos on their songs, and even some subjective touches of traditional Heavy Metal and Death Metal), and they brought some elements of the past as well (as the clean vocals, as in the days of “Morgenröte - Der Schrei nach Finsternis”, their first full length, released back in 1996). Few words that aren’t enough to describe the total picture of what the band offers. But besides “Erzdämon” can be seeing as a logical continuation of what was shown on “Mystic Circle”, it sounds more melodic and well-over than its predecessor, and a bit more crude in certain aspects (especially during the aggressive moments). In other words (and trying to offer the reader a resume), it sounds alive, darkened, full of life and they hit the target once more.

As usual for Brazilian people to say, ‘in a team that’s winning you don’t change a thing’, once more they worked on the studio with Nils Lesser on the recordings, mixing and mastering (obviously at Vaultroom Productions), and the result is what the band’s music needs: clean, defined, but aggressive and heavy (but with that essential ‘crude’ touch that a Black Metal album must bear), enabling the fans to absorb their musical work in its best. And the artwork of Rafael Tavares for the cover (a depiction of Lucifer on Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno”) is really amazing, beautiful and terrorizing as well. All the nine songs of “Erzdämon” are great, fine masterpieces of what Black Metal can offer.

“Erzdämon” opens de album with excellent melodies created by guitars and great keyboards ambiences that boost the funereal beauty of the song, and the same elements can be heard on “From Hell”, where the contrasts between aggressiveness and melodies is reinforced by the good rhythmic shifts of bass guitar and drums, entangled by shrieks and grunts of the vocals. On “The Unholy Trinity”, the early Thrash/Death Metal influences of Black Metal are clear, with that feeling that belongs solely to acts of the genre that started their careers during the 90’s can bear (and prepare to the horror-like part of it that comes before the shred of the solos). And “Scarecrow” (one of the first Singles of the album) begins with a sinister and darkened intro (something inherited of old horror films), again with a melodic appeal with resemblances with the days of “Morgenröte - Der Schrei nach Finsternis” and “Drachenblut” (evading faster tempos, solely based on slow and atmospheric rhythms).

Again using a horror-like ambience on its beginning, “Asmodeus and the Temple of God” sounds as the duet is revisiting its past once more, with brutal tempos contrasting with slow parts with grunts (and based on a solid and excellent work of bass guitar and drums), and what lovely melodies. With a Gothic/Symphonic intro created by the keyboards, “Welcome to the Midnight Mass” is based on funeral ambiences and extreme slow tempos, a hit that shows a lot the melodic side of the band’s music (and the rich set of arrangements of keyboards and guitars is amazing).

Again using slow tempos (but with a more nasty aggressiveness coming from the riffs), “The Mothman” is a remarkable song hard to resist to, with the entanglement between guitars and keyboards boosting the shrieks and snarls of the vocals. An unusual guitar part with effects introduces “Skinwalker”, and soon fast blast beats and oppressive aggressiveness storms through the ears, with ice storm-like keyboards and excellent melodies weaved by the guitars (and pay attention to the funereal part in the middle of the song, with technical drumming).

Closing the album and again rescuing elements of the band’s past, “The Princess of the Deadly Sins” is an atmospheric and introspective song, with those darkened and funeral sets of melodies. To the Black Metal fans (and extreme Metal fans in general) that don’t know the band’s music: “Erzdämon” is a fine opportunity to do so. To the ones older fans of the band music: “Erzdämon” is another masterpiece of MYSTIC CIRCLE. So take this offering, one of the finest albums of this year.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Erzdämon (Part I)
2. From Hell
3. The Unholy Trinity
4. Scarecrow
5. Asmodeus and the Temple of God
6. Welcome to the Midnight Mass
7. The Mothman
8. Skinwalker
9. The Princess of the Deadly Sins (Part II)
Graf von Beelzebub - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Aaarrrgon - Drums, Guitars, Keyboards
Record Label: Fireflash Records


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