Legendary Brazilian black metal band, Mystifier, return with their first new album in over 17 years with Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia.
Released via Season of Mist, Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia follows their album, Profanus. Profanus was released back in 2001. While there have been a few appearances, some compilations and a box set in that time, the band have been pretty much dormant. After forming in 1989 and releasing a steady stream of highly regarded music between then and 2001, most would have assumed the band were finished. Their first 10 years saw them give birth to 4 full lengths, a split, a compilation and an EP whereas the next 20 years saw nothing. Until now that is, the beast has awoken and spat forth Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia. Which, if nothing else, is one hell of a title.
Mystifier are a three piece with founding member Beelzeebubth on guitars. The other members joining him are Diego DoUrden on bass, keys and vocals and Eduardo Amorim (Warmonger) on drums.
Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia is 10 tracks or 50 minutes of raw black metal leaning heavily towards a more traditional sound but not without its progressive moments. Accross the whole album you get a sense of darkness and despair. The album production sounds like it has come from 20 years ago, like they didn’t upgrade their equipment since the last release. I picture them walking back into a studio of old equipment, blowing the dust off of it and just starting recording. It works though. For this style more than any other, it makes them sound like they are playing in a cave in the middle of a forest. Very black metal.
The songs themselves are all between 4 and 6 minutes in length so we aren’t talking epics here. Guitars are down tuned, the bass is thick and sludgy and the drums rain down cymbal heavy fire mixing between thunderous speed and imposing rhythm. Vocals are black. Very. They do mix up things though, especially in tone. Deep, devilish growls lead into higher toned barks and then onto screeching screams. There are chants, spoken word, you name it. There is a lot of backing to the vocals too adding that multi layered feeling and lashings of depth.
Lyrically and thematically Mystifier will also please black metal purists as they take an unveiled approach to attacking organised religion on some songs. Others see them delve into ritual, fallen angels, satanism and the apocalypse. Take the closing track, for example. Chiesa Dei Bambini Molestati directly translates as Church of the Molested Children. The song is full of vitriol and fire. Drums rip at pace with vocals that come partly clean and mostly growled and roared. There is an amazing solo too in what may be the rawest song on the album. Lyrically, lines like “the priests call the children to confess and be cornered alone” leave you very clear of the message in the song.
While much more raw, there is a bit of Rotting Christ to the soundscape created by Mystifier. The title track has that full sound with loads of backing, carefully placed instruments and layer upon layer of vocals and guitars. It is a cracking introduction to an album. Weighing Heart Ceremony switches things up a bit with a melodic bass intro, strained vocals and higher toned guitars before suddenly exploding into a vicious assault. In amidst the brutality though there is an underlying groove formed by the quality riffs. As we hit a more melodic midsection the melodic lead guitar over heavier backing takes on an almost Blackgaze sound. Witching Lycanthropic Moon takes a slower, crushing approach with a thick bass line and slower, pounding drums. That is until the big ending with a blazing solo and then an imposing instrumental breakdown through to the end.
Six Towers of Belial’s Path is a ripper with vicious drumming and dark riffs throughout but while still holding that underlying head banging groove. One of my absolute favourites though is Demoler Las Torres Del Cielo (El Nombre Del Diablo). Backing vocals in the intro amount to devilish laughs and, when mixed with the imposing music, create the sound of horror. The drums are absolutely ripping throughout while vicious vocals tear you a new one. Soultrap Sorcery of Vengeance has a really neat instrumental section. It comes across a little off beat and fresh sounding before leading into one of the heaviest sections of any song you will hear this year.
Al Nakba (666 Days of War) sees the band address global conflict such as Gaza and Israel. Starting with the sounds of war, bombs dropping and bullets flying, we soon head into an assault of music with vicious drum blasts and a full riff. They do switch things up a bit though with clever sudden stops, bass lines filling gaps and a mix of vocal styles that always stay heavy and dark but range in tones and venom. Al Nakba also has one of my favourite solos on the whole album.
Mystifier have blown off whatever cobwebs they had after their long absence and released and absolute corker of an album. Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia is one of the heaviest albums you are likely to hear this year. Immensely dark, viciously satisfying, it isn’t just one of the best black/death metal albums I have heard so far this year. It is one of the best of recent times.
The drums are insane – mesmerizingly rhythmic then frighteningly blasting. The bass gets loads of time to stand out with vicious slams to more intricate groove and the guitars blaze out fiery solos, speed riffing and catchy groove at will. As for the vocals, they are bordering on frightening with a range of tones and styles that make it hard to believe it is all coming from the chords of one guy. Mystifer’s obvious talent aside, each song has a place here. Each one has something to make you take notice.
There are more “standard” traditional black metal blasts, slower grooving darkness, introspective riffs, venomous satanic mantras. There is so much going on it is impossible to switch off or get bored. The production is raw but that isn’t a negative. It had to be. I don’t think it would have worked any other way. Mystifier have created a modern black metal masterpiece that is rooted firmly in the past. A wonderful effort!
Make sure you check out Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia on all the usual streaming platforms now. Grab yourself a physical copy from their Bandcamp page here. Find out more about Mystifier at their website, on Facebook and Instagram. Most importantly, if you like your metal black and heavy – make sure you listen to this album.
Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia by Mystifier (Season of Mist)
The Final Score - 10/10