Okay, Celestial Season announced it. Once Mysterium I released, the band promised more records to come in 2022 and 2023. And that may very well mean two records in one given year. So, sure enough, here they are with Mysterium II, a mere few months after their last marketing event in April of this year. The RMR crew may be damaged by experience, but it also tells us that releasing too much material in one year is dicey at best. Unless you have an abundance of creative energy and stamina to pull this off. After all, many of today’s well-known bands pulled that kind of stunt back in time.
So, what do we have here? Tear-drenched overreach without tissues or the next doom death 10/10 rating in the making? Ready yer voting buttons.
Celestial Season‘s last record truly overdosed on weepy guitars and violins that constantly made our minds wander South to where Officium Triste dwells. Yet on the second edition of mysterious musings, the first impression is impending doom that thrives on funeral speeds and an oppressive atmosphere painted in monochrome colors. The album cover already takes the lead in that, by the way. Mysterium II kinda sounds like a mix of a toned-down earlier version of Paradise Lost, the earthy sounds of Felled, and Rise to the Sky with more lively growls.
Yet again. More often than not, the focus sits way too much on ambient use of classical instruments and less on metallics. In other words, the record often sounds like a chamber orchestra lost in Doom Metal hell. And once cello, violin, piano, and the odd sax start to push the downturned guitars into the back of the mix, nobody really leverages the overall metallic powers anymore. Thus, everything hangs in there for long stretches, in eternal almost hypnotic suspension, swirling around gray leaves of emotional decay. Lost in limbo, in a way. That said, however, there’s good in the perceived bad as well. All those disconsolate soundscapes of misery perfectly fit together with drums tastefully tapping into the violins’ discussion and electric guitars tactfully staying in the background. And that, a band can only achieve through stellar arrangement and superior songwriting.
The RMR crew also liked Stefan Ruiters‘ measured vocals that always perfectly sync with the current mood of misery. The growls, clears, and miscellaneous croaks seem to sync much better with this new material compared to the first edition. You’ll also get short injections of some proggy vibes on Tomorrow Mourning, for instance. This track truly develops some subdued power that doesn’t feel like someone holding back the angry roar of the machine. If only, we could have had more of that. Yet again, songs like In April Darkness have a tendency to noodle about the soundscape far too much. And this – in turn – seems to transform the reasonable 40-minute length of the record into a big and often arduous ask.
Ultimately, Mysterium II may be the perfect companion for those gray days of late autumn and early winter. A record that seamlessly follows in the saddened footsteps of the trilogy’s first installment and often perfectly portrays a rain-swept, dreary landscape of the mind with often picturesque Peaceville moments. As in The Sun The Moon And The Truth that ebbs and flows effortlessly down tear lane. But, in the end, we found too many of the same ideas floating about in slightly different robes. Tracks that often tout their wares on seemingly endless loops. And that led to our minds switching off after a while. Some sort of sensory overload if you will.
Many a Doom Metal adept will find this second record of the series enchanting, though. And Mysterium II surely has a lot to speak for itself with tons of truly well-crafted material on offer. Yet, this team missed variation and underlying power. A solid Doom and Doom Death Metal record that sails unerringly down in the middle of its rainswept road. Nothing more, nothing less.