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Of all the Polish bands that followed in the wake of Vader’s ongoing conquest of mainland Europe and North America with “Litany”, Yattering was the most technical and also, for lack of a better term, the weirdest. The fact that they named themselves after a demon of an early Clive Barker novel is the least weird bit of all. Even though their logo includes a skeletal pentagram, there’s not much overtly anti-religious about the band’s concept, and there never was. The band was one of the most promising additions to the scene along with the youngsters from Decapitated. A string of bad business decisions and touring debacles eventually led to the untimely demise of this East-European death metal outfit. In the decade that they were active, from 1996 to 2006, they released three death metal albums, of which “Murder’s Concept” is the second.

After two demo sessions and their debut “Human’s Pain” from 1998, the band came fully into their own with “Murder’s Concept”. Outside of the broken English titles (for the album, songs and a good portion of the lyrics even) this band is surprisingly professional in its aims. As the title suggests this is a concept album about a fictional serial killer and homicide in general. I have no idea what a “murder’s concept” is, but I’m sure they meant “The Concept of Murder” instead. Where others (Macabre, for one) idolize real life atrocities committed by deviants of our own society, Yattering here approach the multi-faceted subject from a more psychological, internal and emotional point of view. Despite the band’s limited knowledge of the English language, they are able to roughly convey the feelings of their album’s protagonist as he is tempted to kill, and when he eventually kills the lyrics go through great lengths to describe his feelings and mental state.

Vocalist/bassist Marcin "Śvierszcz" Świerczyński has a serviceable grunt, but isn’t a standout in any shape or form. His vocal work will him not make stand out when compared to other known Polish figureheads such as Nergal (Behemoth), Cezar (Christ Agony), Peter (Vader) or Jacek Grecki (Lost Soul).  Axe men Mariusz "Trufel" Domaradzki and Marek "Hudy" Chudzikiewicz lay down a solid foundation of technical riffs and mad thrashings with a healthy amount of leads/solos to spice up proceedings in a highly effective manner. The biggest star of this record is drummer Marcin "Ząbek" Gołębiewski. While his playing style is busy and over-the-top with an impressive array of rolls, fills and blasts with just the right amount of kickdrum salvos and cymbal crashes, he knows when to rein it in and let the groove take over and just flow along.

Scattered through out the record are light industrial flourishes, these serve to add to the feeling of paranoia and alienation, and are meant to reflect the slowly disintegrating mental state of the protagonist. Re-recorded from their debut album here is the track ‘Exterminate’, the strongest of that session and this one. Its presence isn’t very surprising as it was contributed to Relapse Records’ “Polish Assault” compilation series, albeit in an earlier and rougher sounding demo version. From what I gather around the net a lot of people are thrown off by these industrial segues, but I honestly don’t see why that would the case. They aren’t obtrusive and they are relegated to either end or introduce a particular song. While I’m generally conventional in my tastes for this genre, these segues hugely contribute to the otherworldly atmosphere this record aims for.
The production is crunchy but on the rough side, which is not surprising since this band obviously didn’t have the financial means as its more popular and major label backed brethren such as Behemoth, Lost Soul or Vader. The guitar tone is crisp and possesses a lot of clarity and definition, this becomes especially clear during the many lead/solo sections. The drum tone isn’t overdone and never sounds thin. The difference between toms, snares and kickdrums is clearly defined and balanced just right. The bass guitar can be clearly heard, and although the playing isn’t especially poignant, it at least manages to contribute to the songs in its own minimal way. On the whole the production is roomy but organic, and digital only in minor bits and parts.

If you ever tire of Behemoth’s thelemic subjects, the esoterica of Vader or the self-empowering rhetoric of Lost Soul, this band might just be the thing you’re looking for. More earthly and societal in its subject matter, this short-lived band at least for a while was the brightest star in the rapidly expanding Polish death metal scene of the late 90s and early 2000s. That the band went into disarray due to various bad business – and touring decisions makes it only more lamentable. Just imagine what this band could have been had they been properly backed and thoroughly promoted through the right channels… If only, if only… The world might never know what could have been.

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The times that an album’s cover artwork captures a recording’s general atmosphere as well as it does here are far and few. Mysticum’s debut album “In the Streams Of Inferno” is an intensely bleak, downtrodden, foggy and morose album. It was probably one of the earliest of its kind too, in 1996. Combining the harsh elements of Nordic black metal with the cold, inhuman and mechanical aspects of industrial, the band found an equilibrium that not only instantly set them apart from their peers, but laid the template for a subgenre. Unlike the copycat bands that followed in its wake Mysticum is equal parts black metal as it is industrial music. Both genres feed off concepts of alienation, estrangement and depression – that Mysticum was among the first to combine these genres speaks of their innovative spirit and willingness to think outside of the box and question the preconceived notions of the genre they called home. Thorns, Ulver and Dodheimsgard would venture into industrial and electronic territory later in their career – it was Mysticum that kicked open all the doors, it were they who laid the path.

The history of how Mysticum came to use industrial components for its rhythm section, and indeed the origin of the band is interesting in itself. The band was known prior as the formative industrial black metal outfit outfit Sabazios, who released a number of demos. The line-up in Sabazios was identical to the later Mysticum constellation, namely Benny Cerastes (vocals, guitars), Ravn Preben Mulvik (Prime Evil, also vocals/guitars) and Robin Malmberg (bass guitar, programming). Under the name Sabazios the unit independently released the “Wintermass” demo tape. This demo recording eventually led to a recording agreement with Oystein Aarseth’s label imprint Deathlike Silence Productions, and it was him who encouraged the band to switch names. Originally the record had a working title “Serpent Mysticism” and later “Where the Raven Flies”. Mysticum was originally signed to Deathlike Silence to release their first album that was entitled "Where the Raven Flies", going as far as to have promotional flyers printed bearing this album title - but due to Aarseth’s untimely passing it was never released under said title and imprint. “In the Streams Of Inferno” is a collection of re-recorded demo tracks, combined with new tracks specifically written for this recording session.

Around 1993-94 Mayhem had come to an end due to the incarceration, defection and passing of several of its key members. Left with no band second Mayhem drummer (and the band’s current figurehead) Jan-Axel Blomberg was enticed to join Mysticum behind the drums. When he decided that he wanted to revive the brand that made him the household name in the extreme metal genre, this left Mysticum in a bind. With their intended drummer no longer available, the band reverted back to the usage of drum computers. This would eventually lead to the album now known as “In the Streams Of Inferno”. A volatile and militant piece of Nordic black metal that flirts with elements of industrial and holds an unearthly, sci-fi atmosphere few bands were able to match.

Like there are two equally important and integral parts to Nine Inch Nails’ collective band persona - the abrasive, confrontational songs, and the more emotionally charged, fragile atmospheric tracks – the same rings true for Mysticum. The short intro instrumental ‘Industries Of Inferno’ (a clever phonetic approximation of the album title) is a soothing, all too short ambient track that recalls Nine Inch Nails’ own ‘A Warm Place’ from “The Downward Spiral”. Whereas Nine Inch Nails would eventually dedicate an entire half album’s worth to their more introspective, soothing and ambient material Mysticum would never go quite as far. Which is unfortunate because they were actually reasonably adept at such a thing.  Alas it was not to be thus we should make do with what we have. Once the atmospheric intro track has subsided the album truly starts.

‘The Rest’ kicks off with a martial industrial kickdrum beat that could easily be mistaken for a Eurodance beat of the same time period. Complementary to this basic beat is sparse usage of the snare drum, mostly in a marching, militaristic pattern. For a moment not considering the industrial aspect of Mysticum, there are a number of commonalities with pre-“In the Nightside Eclipse” Emperor, and not only vocally. For starters they share the same buzzing guitar tone and the riffing is largely similar in construction. As mentioned, the shrieking vocals also are akin to Ihsahn’s rasps in Emperor’s demo phase. Much like Emperor this band also uses minimal synthesizer lines to accentuate the riffs or enhance the atmosphere in general. Mysticum also play at a similar pace, but  the occasional foray into faster segments and the sparse usage of stock movie samples, among them, for example, the 1981 original version of “The Evil Dead” in the track ‘Let the Kingdom Come’ Mysticum is notably different and more individualistic in its approach in comparison to its arguably more popular and revered Telemark peers. By and large, Mysticum followed Emperor’s compositional lead – but kept its industrial components largely as a supportive device. The major difference with the creatively similar Limbonic Art is that Mysticum is about atmosphere, desolation and darkness primarily, whereas that other band was mostly about high speed and layers upon layers of keyboards and synthesizers.

The instrumental ‘In the Last of the Ruins We Search For A New Planet’ is exactly the type of post-apocalyptic sci-fi epilogue you’d reasonably expect of a band like this. The ambient rumble, the lonely plinking piano, and the light washes of keyboards all seek to do one thing: to create the most desolate, grim and cold atmosphere one would usually associate with the vast coldness of space, and the bombed out surface on an abandoned, blackened, lifeless planet. Just listening to this track you can easily image burned out, derelict buildings, the fog lifting and falling down, debris and dessicated human remains scattered everywhere with pools of fire burning as spheres in the nightsky look over that desolate vision as ominous watchers of fate. Somewhere, some place a radio is playing, sending out the desolate and repetitive tones of a slowly dying piano melody.

Interestingly Mysticum was one of the earliest known proponents of the industrial black metal sound. Yet nobody seems to lavish them with the praise they rightfully deserve in playing this groundbreaking new style in 1996. Only Switzerland’s Samael followed a similar path, but their 1996 album “Passage” was a transitional record, and it wasn’t until 1999’s “Eternal” that they fully embraced the industrial sound. The Dissection studio side-project De Infernali released an album in 1997, a full year after Mysticum’s debut. Dodheimsgard, a fairly pedestrian black metal band up to that point, didn’t jump on the industrial/electronic bandwagon until 1998-99. Even Italian experimentalists Aborym didn’t have a debut out until 1999. Thorns, the Norwegian band featuring Snorre Ruch, didn’t venture into industrial black metal territory until well into 2001. While all these later bands for some reason were heralded as innovators within their genre, nobody seemed to remember the fact that Mysticum predated them by several years. As is often the case with true pioneers, they are reduced to nothing but a footnote in the annals of the genre, as more readily marketable bands copied what they did.

As with many a debut most of the songs here are the strongest or most lauded cuts from the band’s earlier incarnation, and its subsequent demo recordings. “In the Streams Of Inferno” for the most part culls from the band’s archives, but also throws in a few entirely new tracks to differentiate the release from the demos that came before. ‘The Rest’ and ‘Wintermass’ are songs from the 1993 “Wintermass” demo. ‘Crypt Of Fear’ originally appeared in an earlier version on the “Medusa’s Tears” demo from 1993 as ‘Into My Crypt Of Fear’. ‘Where the Ravens Flies’, ‘Let the Kingdom Come’ and ‘In Your Grave’ appeared initially on the “Piss Off” demo from 1995. ‘Where the Raven Flies’ was known as ‘Where the Ravens Fly’ on said demo tape. All the other tracks were written and recorded specifically for this session. Strangely, there are no notable differences between the old and new tracks. Mysticum clearly knew what it wanted to do with this record, and the inter-song cohesion is truly spectacular. There would be a second Mysticum album a few years later, but “In the Streams Of Inferno” remains unmatched and unsurpassed to this day.

Mysticum gave a glimpse into the future, and it was bleak…