Home > Music > Mysticum – In The Streams of Inferno (1995)

Mysticum – In The Streams of Inferno (1995)

folderI’ve had a vague urge to discuss this album for a while now, but what really pushed me over the edge is the impending release of a followup – Planet Satan. I know this band has been a pretty big influence on Aborym (who I mention because they were one of my big gateways into metal) to the point of even having devouring this band’s vocalist for an album. Furthermore, you can sense a hint of Mysticum’s influence in their work after listening to this… but first, you need to parse how much sparser and uglier this album aims to be.

Place a few tracks from here into your “ultra-minimalist low-fi black metal” playlist if you wish, because In The Streams of Inferno fits that aesthetic perfectly. It’s worth noting that even drum machines aren’t unheard of in this section of the genre, but the one on display here reaches velocities and densities more reminiscent of extreme techno/industrial music. The musicians here have no qualms about playing patterns that would be difficult for a human to imitate (if not impossible; I’ve heard live drumming that was further over the top), although the rest of the instruments are performed in a standard fashion.

Like a lot of the more minimalistic black metal bands, Mysticum is particularly successful at establishing atmosphere. The first thing a prospective listener will notice is how thin and hollow the production on this album is, with guitar so piercing it’s hard to hear the notes. Besides being generally trebley, this album showcases seemingly whispered vocals – I believe that if they were emphasized in the mix (instead, we got the opposite), they’d probably sound incredibly feral and nasty… but because they’re so buried, they’re not. Still, the interplay of drum machine and guitar are enough to keep most of the songs here interesting. Amusingly enough, the most memorable moments on this album come from “Crypt of Fear”, the longest and most elaborate track. When a band’s best songs are their long ones, it’s a sign they need to let more ideas hang out, although “Crypt of Fear” also has a lengthy (but repetitive) synthesizer prelude…

I don’t know what the sequel to this album is going to be like, but I noticed that the folks at Peaceville Records like to label Mysticum’s music as “psychedelic”. If they’re referring to the debut, then I’m afraid the only psychedelics getting pushed around are in their offices. In The Streams of Inferno puts a compelling, vaguely electronic twist on what would otherwise be standard “norsecore” type black metal. It’s not a particularly sophisticated mix, but there would be plenty of musicians in the future willing to complicate things.

Highlights: “The Rest”, “Wintermass”, “Crypt of Fear”

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