1.) Midnight Revelations.
2.) To The Ancients.
3.) The Journey To Mist Cloaked Lands.
4.) Arcane Wisdom Of The Elders.
6.) Pale Enchantress.
Mystical Forces have released their eagerly anticipated sophomore release Arcane Wisdom Of The Elders through the only label known how to handle primitive raw black metal at its finest. The Band consisting of Count Vornok, Gate Master and additional vocals by L. Once again the U.K. are here to prove we do raw B.M. with no compromise and a level secrecy that just entices you in more than Pandora’s box. With Gate Master having previously appeared on the Count Vornok split The Codex Astarium/ The Rite Of Passage we delve in to this release to see just what these two entities can create when not working on their solo projects.
Track 1) Midnight Revelations, opens with the most raw and unforgiving riff possible. This Grinding riff matching the sound of a million power tools just unleashing themselves upon the unsuspecting listener. The use of distortion and overdrive literally is on everything but this doesn’t compromise the production value. This however purposeful is great homage to Mayhem’s track “Deathcrush.” whether this was deliberate or inspiration for the opening track and if you thought Deathcrush was raw, well damn your about to be challenged because this track is Deathcrush turned up to 11 and further.
This is a great mix of every early 80’s black metal act going into this piece, from the likes of Hellhammer to Venom to even some early crust punk especially the likes of Amebix and Discharge to name just two. However between all this razor sharp riffs and hellish Vocals there is an underlying synth and ambience that creeps through. The sound of horns grace us midway through making this slower already doom ridden section sound both heroic and foreboding at the same time.
This track is both brutal and strangely uplifting to say the least, with blast beats and choppy riffs it just leaves you feeling filthy yet strangely sainted. This is nostalgic of the early 80’s era in which this sound all took place. As stated this is not imitation this is the biggest form of flattery to an era since passed where the attitude was a big fuck you to the labels that wanted bands to tow the line as to what sells.
Track 2) ‘To the Ancients” takes us on a whole new journey. The use of Ambience and Synth literally paints a picture of a desolate land, as our weary warrior travels to visit such Ancients in search of wisdom and knowledge. This beautiful yet dark soundscape is both haunting and spiritual at the same time. As the sound of chants flow across the winds and draw our warrior towards this foreboding monolith of a structure way up on high within the mountain’s where the Ancients await him. This is such a drastic shift from the first track and is definitely welcomed.
These Gregorian style chants fill your ears like low bass notes, coupled with the low chords of the synth definitely makes for a amazing soundtrack piece. This would be nothing short or shy of appearing in a movie. Honestly it’s this sort of mix on an album I appreciate. The mix between raw and ambience is a brilliant thing especially when done right.
Track 3) “The Journey To Mist Cloaked Lands” is another beautiful ambient piece that certainly gives you that feeling within the title. What sounds like birds in the background as our warrior wakes from his time with the Ancients and readies to travels across vast landscapes in the search of the legend of the Mist Cloaked Lands.
This is another fine piece that literally places you right within a scene in a movie. The sound of trickling water from either waterfalls way up on high in mountain’s or even little streams that run by, that you stop to replenish your thirst before you move on in your quest is just purely incredible. As the track moves through and the sound of what seems like female vocals make you feel like you’ve discovered what you’ve searched for all this time. With a soaring synth end to this already stunningly beautiful piece of ambience I slowly pick my jaw up off the floor as to what my ears have just witnessed.
Track 4) Arcane Wisdom Of The Elders opens with those familiar chants but the darkness of the opening track is back, those chunky yet razor sharp riffs and blast beats are back, complete with the demonic screams of Gate Master. This ferocious opening rips through you like a howling wind. The track soon slips into a doom laden groove coupled with a great synth part. This is reminiscent of Burzum’s “Ham Som Reiste” taken from the amazing album “Det Som Engang Var” this is once again another brilliant homage to this track which Mystical Forces has only elevated by backing it with the thick heavy doom riffs.
Mixed in within the last verse however we have yet another great little sort of blackened roll element with what sounds like huge explosions mixed in to make it sound much more bombastic in sound. As the track closes we’re back with those thick choppy riffs and the choir of voices bringing an end to this epic and well rounded track.
Track 5) “Spells” takes us on yet another journey through a beautiful and ambient soundscape again. This track has a much more dungeon synth vibe to it. However it’s far removed from the likes that some go too. Whilst this is much more atmospheric in its nature of sound, yet still retaining that medieval sound through the notes used on the synth. This is a shorter ambient track but definitely a welcomed one that’s sandwiched between the darkness of the previous and final track.
Track 6) “Pale Enchantress” is another ferocious and brutal track and the guest vocals by L come through on the opening, the screams entwine with Gate Master’s sounding like shrouded screams. The song climbs in its ferocity until its second verse where it takes a deep dive back to the slower doom element once again. The monk chants make it sound as foreboding and dark as ever. The use of the spoken word part is pure genius, sounding like readings from a lost piece of scripture. As the more demonic tones of Gate Master’s vocals surface we enter into the final minuets of the track with the last brutal chords played this six track journey is over. This I might hence to add does in fact make me sad as I truly got both entranced and lost within this album from start to finish.
Its not everyday that an album can take you on such journeys across mystic lands and forgotten realms that you feel like your living the very music your listening too. The raw dark B.M. elements while few are just literally the cherry on this seductive and highly enticing cake of an album. It’s a release by two individuals who have not just collaborated but literally combined their love for the decade this pure yet aggressive genre was birthed. They’ve not only paid homage but more to the point taken the wheel as the invention it was and reinvented it to its modern day version. However A.W.OT.E as an album could have easily have been released back in the day, but I feel its been best saved for the youth of today. Rather than looking back at the past as most do and yes I’m guilty of such, however I’m also here embracing the future releases of now and not dreaming of days gone by.
The underworld in the U.K. is very much alive and well. For now we are making headway for a much darker and bleaker tomorrow rather than wishing we were in the past
Lord of the Shadows