Celestial Season – Mysterium I (2022) – Review

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Officium Triste already ran a similar campaign. Slow-marching Doom Death Metal, pregnant with weeping melodies and drunk on abundant orchestration, garnished with growls and weird monologues as the tracks lumbered on. It was also a somewhat tedious and – yes – even boring affair at times. So, where will Celestial Season take us? Spritzy refreshments underway or lukewarm metal parts only? We’ll keep the ice cubes ready, just in case.

It’s probably a crime, but I never heard of Celestial Season. So, ash on my head, this band has indeed been around the block a few times. Since 1991 in fact, with lengthy breaks in between. But here we are and Mysterium I is afoot, the first installment of three full-length records, all due out in 2022 and 2023.1)

The album’s up against some additional mighty competition, though. The band’s near-perfect 2020 record The Secret Teachings really set the bar at truly high levels. And it is against those rain-drenched rocks that this new record must finally prevail. Because the aforementioned other Dutch folks are already quaking in their wake.

Interestingly, Teachings was all about new beginnings after some 20 years of radio silence. Refreshing new energy with some pretty good ideas that gave us hope, a new drive and purpose. Yet, Mysterium I here lurches down that proverbial hill mostly at almost funeral speed. An unstoppable flow of slow-flowing metallic lava that must be consumed as it emerges from the deep underground. Albeit that you’ll find some slightly faster moving parts on the record with some traditional metallic airs. The fresh-sounding beats of Endgame come to mind right away.

In other words, Celestial Season pretty much revived that traditional tearfest from somewhere in the ’90s. And the record has – yet again – a lot of the famed Peaceville Three2) in its cavernous guts. There is this early doom flavor all over it with bands like Anathema popping into my head all the time. But it’s that well-balanced use of all of the abundant instrumentation that made us go for seconds.

Plugged instruments will pretty much and easily match those acoustic ones Celestial Season threw in for good measure. Subtle orchestration abounds in a sea of rough metallic glory. And contrary to that other aforementioned Dutch band, violin, cello, and acoustic guitar never gripe. Likewise, the electric guitars won’t ever just take over (The Golden Light Of Late Day, for example). You’ll also find trve mastery of the two guitarists playing tag team (Endgame yet again), and that’s always a pleasure. Albeit that the production feels kinda rough at times. As if the wrinkles created by the crossover from melodic to harsh passages weren’t ironed out correctly.

And sometimes, Mysterium I unfolds truly Gothic wings. This Glorious Summer with its funeral, slow-marching airs almost made me slap on black leather to go find my darker side. This is trve doom that masters like My Dying Bride couldn’t have done better. And for once I am grateful to Stefan Ruiters for mostly keeping to those gruff growls. They supply that mana that greedily feeds the sinister and forlorn atmosphere of this record. Many a metal adept may prefer the frequent use of clear voice, yet here this is spot on.

But finally, Mysterium I unfortunately wasn’t quite able to paint a smile on my face, the way The Secret Teachings could. But that doesn’t despatch it to the oubliette of the hopeless Doom Death convicts. Instead, Celestial Season created a sturdy doom record that thrives on measured growls, excellent guitar work, and subtle orchestration that supports the overall theme. And this right off the sturdy Black Water Mirrors. This leads to an undeniable groove that majestically flows through this tear-drenched soundscape without being tedious. And that turns this record into a truly remarkable Doom Death Metal piece.

But ’nuff said now. Let ‘er roar!

Ed’s note: And there’s more excellence abroad. Check out the latest piece of Rise To The Sky. It’s gonna be good, we promise.

Record Rating: 7/10 | LabelBurning World Records | Web: Facebook (band)
Release Date: 25 April 2022


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