Review: Mystic Charm “Shadows of the Unknown” [Shiver Records]

Review: Mystic Charm “Shadows of the Unknown” [Shiver Records]

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Score 71%
Where no life dwells
71 %
User Rating : 0 (0 votes)

There are a few misconceptions that people who are new to metal usually make. One includes the assumption that anything slightly slower than a sub-genre’s usual trademarks would result into something different to begin with; think of the folks who believe that Obituary are a doom/death metal band for instance.

The reason why I mention Obituary is simple: had the band stopped playing death metal after Cause of Death and decided to jump on the doom/death metal wagon, they’d most likely ended up like this. Mystic Charm embraces the same simplistic tricks that Obituary are known for; meaning that they switch between somewhat faster (and I use this word with caution here) sections and massive grooves. The difference, of course, is that Mystic Charm don’t forget about doom metal’s charms, as the first three notes of “Mystic Charms” remind me of Black Sabbath’s self-titled song right away. Alas, I could perfectly understand how not everyone would be fond of Mystic Charm. The band spends a lot of time building atmosphere, only to release it gradually through a filthier stream of death metal riffs. Therefore I’m not even sure what kind of doom/death metal fans would get the most out of Shadows of the Unknown to begin with. Fans who appreciate the style because of its atmosphere might consider the album to sound too engaged to begin with, while fans who yearn for riff after riff might not get a proper fix out of Shadows of the Unknown either.

Personally, took me a while to get used to Shadows of the Unknown and I bet that I’m not the only one in this regard. Still, there’s definitely some good stuff scattered throughout the album and Rini Lipman’s throaty growls certainly help, as they inject the right amount of venom into these tracks. The aforementioned “Mystic Charms” introduces you to the realm that’s already shown on the artwork; making it a slow churner of a track with some spooky additional features to it, such as the church organs and the brief, yet possessed sound effects used on Rini Lipman’s voice. “Deadly Embrace” falls somewhere between the Celtic Frost-infliction of bludgeon heaviness and a Black Sabbath-esque swinging groove… making it a doom/death metal tune that definitely lives up to its title. “Endless Sickness” is the longest song that Shadows of the Unknown has to offer, but definitely justifies its length. From the well-timed bulking riffs to the noisy leads that evoke the cries of the damned, it’s a fine album closer.

The record’s main weakness comes down to the tracks that rely more on building up atmosphere than releasing tension. “Lost Empire” creeps around like a wolf under a full moon and while those additional acoustics add to the eerie atmosphere, it would be a far better song had it gone for the attack more than once. “Beyond Darkness” sounds like Celtic Frost played in slow-motion and while I appreciate Mystic Charm’s intention, it’s not exactly my style of doom/death metal. Let’s just say that I’ve always preferred bands such as Divine Eve over Winter, but that says more about my personal taste… or lack thereof, of course. Even the instant “Saved Soul” doesn’t make it either, as it never gets exciting beyond that decent, if somewhat unoriginal main riff that drives the song – quite weird, considering it’s the second shortest song on the record, but what can we do about it, eh?

Shadows of the Unknown definitely features some annoying flaws, but in the end, it’s a good record, although I definitely have to be in the mood for it. Oh and if you expected some Unleashed-esque death metal because of the review title, you’ll just have to excuse me for misleading you… it was either this title or “mystically charming”.

Release date: March 1994

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