Music Review: Mystic Shadows – “…Over Old Hills” [Unsigned]

Found these guys on Myspace and amazingly enough, this entire album can be downloaded FREE from their profile.  Yes, free – although I recommend utilizing the included link to Paypal and sending them $8 ($1 per song).  And here is why I say this;

Frankly, these guys have balls!  I mean, it takes a lot of kahuna’s to work for so long on an album, then to turn right around and offer it up freely to prospective fans.  And I’m not talking edits of the album, or critic promos where someone talks over the music every 30 seconds to discourage illegal uploading.  I’m talking, the full album at 128 kbps bitrate – which is iTunes quality.

As I mentioned, the album itself is 8 songs, several of them clocking in at over 8 minutes apiece, for a total listening experience of well over 50 minutes.  This is both the good and the bad with this offering as a few of the songs (most notably “Home of the Gods – a 9 minute, 51 second opus) really could’ve benefited from being trimmed down to offset the redundancy of the piece.  Other songs such as “Our Kingdom is Rising” don’t seem as hampered by length as it adds to the overall cinemagraphic feel.

Mystic Shadows hail from Brazil but their sound is all Nordic – an epic, folk inspired Black Metal.  The Myspace page lists Bathory, Summoning, Finntroll and others as their main influences, and to this end they really do seem to have the ‘early’ Black metal sound down.  What is interesting is unlike the early work of their influences, Mystic Shadows has decent production, excellent & atmospheric keyboards and a haunting chorus in places that to me, add a level of complexity and richness to their songs that I found missing from some of the early, more minimalist bands.  Purists will undoubtably disagree but I urge you to listen to the album before passing judgement.

The band consists of growling vocalist/guitarist Myth and keyboardist Arntor, assisted in the studio by Earth [Seduced by Suicide/Blood Tears] who handled singing the clean vocals, playing several instruments and production, as well as session drummer Thungoroth.  They consider themselves Epic Black Metal, and I won’t disagree as most of their songs could’ve been used in a movie soundtrack – some even having the clashes of steel and the screams of battle in the background.  They have a symphonic (I know, a dirty word in this genre) quality with interludes of celtic inspired accoustic guitar and soft, spoken verse.

I preferred the more melodic ‘Pagan Memories’ and the aforementioned ‘Our Kingdom is Rising’ as the better tunes in the set, but if you’re a fan of Viking or Battle metal, you’ll not be disappointed with any of the eight.  

These guys should get signed in the very near future and hopefully be able to do some touring to support their work.  Odds are they’ll probably end up a household name in Europe, and deservedly so.

 In the meantime, I recommend doning your sword and shield – and giving them a listen.  They can be found HERE


Mystic Shadows - . . . Over Old Hills Cover

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