Mist of Misery – Severance (2022) – Review

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By Loki and his millions of unholy minions. We’ve been down in the hellish pit and back a few times too many lately. So, our darkened souls yearn for some melodic mana to come along and soothe the pain inflicted by too much scorching metal in the 10th circle of hell.

So, along came a band we actually covered once before. Mist of Misery usurped our attention with that crisp yet melancholic EP Fields of Isolation some way back. A doomy mix that came with a few sudden outbursts of Black Metal, laden with atmospherics and a fair dose of ambients. The RMR crew kept on looking for more sturdy material from this band ever since. Yet, the noodly, terribly lengthy, and overly ambitious record Unalterable of 2019 could never convince, and thus didn’t make it onto the list of reviews. And maybe that’s a good thing.

So, here’s Severance, the band’s latest concoction. And it’s not without trepidation that we hit play. After all, the band stated that we needed to be – and I quote – “…aware that [the record] differs quite a bit from [their] previous albums…” which – can be good or (very) bad. But we should not worry too much because “…core elements of Mist Of Misery are still very much present.”1) Alright, then, another heap of potential troubles awaiting our scrutiny. But the airtime of ‘just’ some 54 minutes already soothed our nerves somewhat already. And true to the band’s statement, a leopard won’t change its spots. But it can get a haircut, a good grooming, and muscle up for beauty.

And that’s what happened on this new record. First, the album follows a storyline that will give it some serious purpose. The aforementioned crispness ain’t back yet (or still), and perhaps it should just stay in the past. Second, the endless circling of the same wagons that the former record was prone to, left the building for good. In its stead, Severance now sports some pretty hefty substance.

Of course, you still find an abundance of orchestration, it’s Mist of Mistery after all. But the whole chebang is well done, often presented in piano-heavy, deliciously pseudo-baroque fashion that sometimes reminded us of Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy. The band works the atmospheric parts pretty much to perfection. Check out Towards the Descent for instance which uses a harpsichord as an opening shot to boot. And yet again, we have a band that’s able to master those pretty seamless crossovers from ambient and atmospheric into harsh Black Metal.

And that reflective, dreamy, and often melancholic coexistence between wannabe opera, doom-laden violins, and rough riff-laden metal pretty much describes the essence of the piece. Their mix of Post Black, Symphonic Black, and Doom Black Metal often ends in hauntingly beautiful passages that reminded me of ‘proper’ classical music more than once. But one of the pillars of success truly is Mist of Misery‘s new vocalist Änglamakaren. He sports a strangely modulated rasp that’s always just aggressive enough to please, but never overbearing. Boy, even the monologues sound great – and that’s not very often the case in those productions.

If there’s anything to complain about on Severance, it’s the damned orchestra and guitars that often come in front-center a tad too much. That pushes the vocals sometimes way back into the mix which ain’t – all that great. But, I guess, the pretty sturdy songwriting here does save the cake after all and this remains small potatoes.

Oh, and what was that again with the much-needed ‘melodic mana’ RMR himself was bitching about earlier? Yup, didn’t quite work that way.2) This is yet another blackened metal piece, want it or not. But Severance here was too good to pass over. The band must have listened to the sometimes pretty wild criticism that headed their way after the last record aired. This here record undeniably is Mist of Misery. But it’s got substance, soul, and some true teeth at the same time. Gone are the endless detours to nowhere and in come lush tropes of ghostly, almost ethereal musings. A beautifully crafted Extreme Metal piece that had us in its melancholic grip for way too long, best consumed in one session in front of the fire on a wintery evening.

Record Rating: 7/10 | LabelNon-Serviam Records | Web: Facebook (band)
Release Date: 4 November 2022


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