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Mist – Demo 2013

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The 2013 demo recording of Slovenian all-girl doom metal combo Mist, aptly called “demo” to avoid unnecessary confusion, is a worthwhile demonstration of a young band taking a traditional and classic approach to a genre to its logical conclusion. The demo is significantly heavier than most of its more marketable peers, and avoids at least some of the trappings of the occult rock trend from which it no doubt benefitted. Re-pressed no less than three times on CD due to great interest, and eventually re-released by the band’s current contractor Soulseller Records, these five Slovenian girls might yet surprise the doom metal world in the years to come once they find their own sound.

That the band was barely together for a year when these recordings were committed to tape shines through in the haphazard and sudden transitions of these two songs, some of which are rather rudimentary and forgettable. ‘Phobia’ is a straight-up rocker, and ‘The Living Dead’ is the earliest instance of Mist truly showing what they are capable of. Heavily inspired by Black Sabbath, although they are leaning more towards the heavier end of the spectrum instead of the expected psychedelia. While Mist is hardly the sort of band to imitate the brooding and droning Thorr’s Hammer, or the more classic doom oriented Rituals Of the Oak, the girls draw inspiration from two wells at once making the music accessible to the general metal populace while simultaneously offering something of interest to those more familiar with the doom metal subbranch. Mist hardly qualifies as a traditional – or epic doom metal combo in tradition of Candlemass, Rituals Of the Oak or Solitude Aeturnus – or the more droning variant such as Salome and Yob, but its inherent heaviness is a defining factor as to where their interest in the genre lies.

photoIt is exactly the slowest song on the demo that is the most interesting. Not only because it avoids the currently popular occult rock sound, but because Mist is plainly better when they slow down to a snail’s pace. That isn’t to say that the more straightforward Black Sabbath material (‘The Living Dead’) is any less interesting – the more traditional doom cut (‘Phobia’) is just more captivating and stronger all around. It was a wise marketing decision to include one song of each segment of the doom demographic they wish to appeal to. ‘The Living Dead’ is a stronger closer, but it sounds too similar to many other bands in this genre. It isn’t a track to differentiate itself, or Mist, from the releases of Seremonia, Kröwnn, Serpent Omega or bands of similar ilk. The most interesting track is ‘Phobia’ because it explores slower, altogether darker territory.

What does stand out are Nina Spruk’s powerful vocals, even though she’s occasionally plagued by her unflattering East-European inflection. Spruk is anything but your typical soaring doom singer as she has the sort of bellowing vocals that wouldn’t feel out of place in a stoner rock – or groove metal band. Her sultry whispers in ‘Phobia’ form the highlight of that track, and one can only hope that she’ll explore her vocal range on future recordings. Spruk’s vocals especially fit well with the slower nature of a track like ‘Phobia’ where Mist lays off the Black Sabbath grooves, and actually sounds like a genuine doom metal band. It would be advisable for the girls to explore this avenue to a great degree on future releases, although the Black Sabbath sound is more easily marketable. One can only imagine what Mist would be capable of if they further slowed down their music. Mist would be a powerful entity as the female equivalent to Winter circa “Into Darkness” or Yob circa “The Illusion Of Motion” and “The Unreal Never Lived”. Couple a slower overall pace with Spruk’s wider vocal palette, and something truly spectacular would be bound to happen. As of now Mist is content to uphold the status-quo, which is okay – but they are capable of so much more than just that. This demo proves just that.

The demo was recorded in November 2013 at Klub Jedro in Ljubljana, Slovenia with Benjamin Kic and the band producing. Kic provides the two tracks with a concrete sense of bottom-end heaviness, mostly thanks to prominent place for the bass guitar. There’s an almost analog warmth to the production. That the production is slightly more textured sounding than many other occult rock bands imitating the early Black Sabbath sound works in the band’s advantage. The guitar tone is crunchy and sufficiently heavy while not sacrificing any clarity in the process. The psychedelic artwork was created by drummer Mihaela Žitko, and for the most part it is the sort of vista you’d expect with a stoner metal band. While Mist is a doom metal band at heart, it are the stoner aspects that prevail the most on this demo, and that is a pity because they are capable of so much more than this facile and forgettable song and dance.  Recently the girls of Mist were offered a recording contract with Dutch label Soulseller Records. “Demo 2013” in a lot of ways sounds exactly like you think it does, but beneath the surface something is brewing that the band hopefully will capitalize on in their future output. Whereas bands as High Priest Of Saturn and Seremonia rely heavily on psychedelia Mist from the onset chose a heavier and more metallic direction, which they’ll hopefully explore further.