Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love, stuff that’s essential listening for students of extreme metal that you may not have ever heard of. Stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, we go to the fjord factories of Norway for Mysticum’s In the Streams of Inferno (Full Moon).
Mysticum (go ahead and get out the giggles now) really should have been much bigger than they ended up being. I mean, right off the bat, they had the support of the black metal taste maker, Euronymous himself, who signed them to his Deathlike Silence label. This, despite their not even having a drummer (Hellhammer was a member for a little while, but they never recorded anything with him). Instead, they had a drum machine. And not even a drum machine with a cute name like the Sisters of Mercy’s Doktor Avalanche. Their drum machine was fairly primitive – it’s pretty obvious that the blast beats were made by something with binary code as its DNA – but if it was sophisticated, it wouldn’t exactly be second-generation black metal, would it? And they used it to their advantage. While Immortal were traipsing through the woods and Emperor were playing with orchestral keyboards, Mysticum went right for the industrial apocalypse awaiting us all.
Take away the ice pick guitars and angel-killing shrieks, though, and you’re left with keyboards that sound like runaways from a Flock of Seagulls album and a shoddy drum machine. Weirdly enough, they still managed to keep their credibility. Check out the reviews of In the Streams of Inferno, their only proper full-length, on Amazon or Metal Archives. Lots of dudes talking about how this is true black metal. If anybody is going to call out something for being false, it’s Internet kvltists. What makes it so true? Well, this is some pretty damn evil stuff here. Those inhumanly fast blasts push the songs along like lemmings into an ocean of blood. Whatever it is that vocalist Prime Evil hates, he hates it with a passion. It all strikes you in an intense 36 minute flurry of blows, the most potent being the Ministry-in-a-whiteout-blizzard burst of “Crypt of Fear.” In the process, they pretty much single-handedly invented industrial black metal.
Unfortunately for Mysticum, they never really got off the ground. When Euronymous was killed by a certain Decibel cover artist, they ran into problems with the label and didn’t end up releasing In the Streams of Inferno until 1996, on Full Moon. And that was it. Why didn’t it happen? It’s possible they got lumped in with all the other black metal bands that were emerging at the time, since their generic cover art didn’t really give a very good indication of the unique sounds within. They never finished their second full-length, and vanished in 2000. Their influence can still be felt, though. DHG, The Kovenant, and even Nachtmystium owe a big debt to these guys. This isn’t a pretty hate machine – it’s a pretty ugly hate machine.