MYSTIC CIRCLE “Mystic Circle”

By Lord Randall

MYSTIC CIRCLE has been plying their trade in the black/death market since the mid-‘90s, releasing a half-dozen albums in the decade between ’96-’06, but has as yet failed to make a noticeable impression of any sort, just always being “there”, one could say. Others have their thoughts, I’m sure, but I believe releasing three albums in as many years burnt whatever creativity the band had to cinders, resulting in the lackluster “Bloody Path Of God” in 2006, followed by the 15-year recording hiatus that ended with last year’s “Letters From The Devil” EP.

And now, a mere four months later, the determined duo of Graf von Beelzebub and Aaarrrgon (Did you get all the a’s and r’s right?-Snide Mality) re-enter the fray with “Mystic Circle”. Opener ‘Belial Is My Name’ lights a fire from the cinders, instantly memorable and shot through with melodicism as the members of MYSTIC CIRCLE have always been when they were “on” yet forsaking none of the ferocity of which they’re capable. ‘Seven Headed Dragon’ stumbles early on, the flirtation with spoken delivery taking away from the level of energy a band of this sort must attain and remain at to be effective, lackluster riffs and rhythms dragging the song down even further.

Beginning with a keyboard passage I wish had actually gone on a bit longer, ‘Letters From The Dead’ returns us to the rage-realm, falsetto vocals in the chorus abrasive to the ear, but it actually works in context, the twosome at their most urgent, most passionate in too long a time. Grandiose, yet not overblown. After the slow buildup of ‘Darkness In Flames’, when the band launches into death mode, I’m disappointed that they didn’t venture further into that more measured realm, seemingly still of a mind to play it safe when such a thing is rarely advisable after so long away. I get what I want soon enough, though, ‘Curse Of The Wolf Demon’ patiently lurking, waiting its chance to howl and bring terror.

In all, while “Mystic Circle” is a decent enough return to form, it’s still a form that could stand a bit of shaking up. Oh, and there’s a POSSESSED cover, too. It’s not bad.