Review: MIST OF MISERY – ‘Fields of Isolation’ [Album Stream]

Swedish symphonic black metal band, Mist of Misery release their latest EP, ‘Fields of Isolation’ on Black Lion Records as the second chapter of a two-part series to accompany ‘Shackled of Life,’ the first EP or “mini album” in the series, released earlier 2017. Originally formed in 2010, the quartet currently consists of Mortuz-Denatus on lead vocals and keyboards, Phlegathon on guitar, Livsnekraen on drums, and Damian on bass. On ‘Fields of Isolation,’ they attempt to answer the question, “What would happen if a Scandinavian black metal band in corpse paint partied with Beethoven and Bach?”

The first grabbing impression of the material is the album cover art by legendary Russian artist, Alex Tartsus, featuring a blue-green-hued, haunted house full of ghostly, tortured souls. The exquisitely illustrated imagery immediately evokes feelings of coldness, fear, and agony. Tonally, the music contained within matches this mood with most of the material feeling generally depressive or mournful while also infusing sporadic moments of dark aggression at times.

Conceptually, the format is a harmonious meld of classical music compositions and mid-tempo, atmospheric black metal. The quartet is able to seamlessly incorporate both musical styles in a way that fittingly complement each other. The classical sections aren’t just utilized merely to accentuate the metal, but are fully fleshed-out, well-composed musical pieces that hold their own weight as part of each song. Often throughout the EP, the brilliance and intricacy of the classical piano makes it the star of the show. Mortuz-Denatus is not just playing rudimentary keyboard riffs simply for added effect, but is clearly an accomplished pianist who showcases his talents well here.

Track one, “Fields of Isolation” is an impressive opener that starts off with a simple, melodic piano before the rest of the instruments and vocals are added in to create a dense range of sound. Fuzz-toned guitar, bass, atmospheric keyboard, and relentless double-bass kick drums round out the mix. The heavily-reverbed, ghostly, screaming vocals resound icily over the epically cinematic instrumentation like a banshee in the night. During the breakdown, all is stripped away except for a mournful piano melody accompanied by a somberly spoken voice. It’s a hauntingly beautiful moment that very effectively creates a sense of emptiness and solitude.

“Across Empty Pastures” is a cinematic, short, simple track comprised of keyboards and gothic-style vocal chanting that paints an imaginative scenario of one visiting a tranquil burial site to pay respects to a lost loved one. “Hymn to Silence” continues with the depressive tone and, in similar form to the first track, begins with a somber piano riff – only this time it’s accompanied by a mournful lead guitar melody before dynamically building into the full range of sound. The vocals on this track evoke true pain and agony starting off as an intense growl and then escalating into a full-blown, blood-curdling scream by the final moments of the song’s climax.
Other standout tracks are “Tortured by Solitude,” a Coldworld cover that doesn’t veer much sonically from the original aside from, perhaps, better production quality. The razor-sharp guitar tone and punk-ish catchiness make this one an enjoyable listen. “Shackles of Life Pt. 2” is a beautiful, classical piano solo that fans of any music genre can appreciate. As previously stated, Mortuz-Denatus is unquestionably a talented and skilled pianist, this song being a shining example, before kicking it up several more notches on the next track, “Crystal Vapour Eclipse.” If it’s possible to “shred” on a piano, it’s definitely accomplished on this instrumental.

As EPs go, this one has a lot to offer. Clocking in at just over thirty-three minutes, it’s sure to leave fans satisfied yet wanting more. Overall, the songs are well-composed, well-executed, and enjoyable. The excellent production quality, as one of the highlights of this collection, should be given a great deal of credit as well – sonically achieving a tone that is full, punchy, and clear while still emitting a sense of coldness that lends itself brilliantly to the material. For fans of depressive black metal and classical fans alike – or for music fans just looking for something creative and a bit outside of the box to try – this one is well worth a listen.

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About Steve Savage

Writer and music enthusiast based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, always interested in discovering new and different music no matter what the genre. Hit me up anytime if you know about something I should be listening to or if you just wanna talk music in general. Peace!

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