Mysticum - Planet Satan
Peaceville Records
Industrial Black Metal
8 songs (47:15)
Release year: 2014
Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat

This is a surprise! Mysticum, for those unaware, are godfathers of industrial black metal, once being signed to Euronymous' Deathlike Silence and releasing the still excellent In The Streams of Inferno in 1996. The band split up multiple times, reforming in 2003 and 2011, but until now have only managed to put out a single-song split and a demo collection. Planet Satan has been a rumour for years, and unkind thoughts are that it was better as a rumour than an actual album, as it's quite the disappointment. Where In The Streams of Inferno managed to combine 90s black metal with electronic beats without any dilution in atmosphere, Planet Satan can't repeat the trick, and isn't as well-written or varied. The initial impression, although it has the same line-up (Robin Malmberg, once of Ulver, Prime Evil (ex-Aborym), and Cerastes) is not so much industrial black metal as black metal with programmed drums. There's nowhere near as much variety in the electronic elements as there was previously, and there's little effort to update their sound.

There are a few points in their favour. As opener LSD (Lucifer in the Skies with Demons) shows, the band have very good taste in guitar tone, distinct but whirring, as well as a capable pair of harsh vocalists, whose traded growls and screeches are perhaps the best thing about the album. It's just a pity that the uninspired songwriting doesn't make good use of any of the band's strengths. And the poorer moments are genuinely, depressingly bad; Annihilation especially is downright monotonous, the drum beats repetitive and overwhelming the guitars. That's a factor throughout the album, few songs managing to avoid being dragged down by it. All Must End mixes things up, even dropping the riffs entirely for a brief electronic beatdown, and has powerful enough riffs to overcome and compliment the percussion. And Far is a standout, the backing electronic sounds adding a mysterious quality to the otherwise straightforward beats n'riffs.

Yet all too often, what should be hypnotic is plain dull – Fist of Satan's vocal performance is intense, but the repetitive thudding that backs it up lets it down. Perhaps part of the problem is that the world has moved on; plenty of industrial black metal bands make far better use of electronic elements, and even programmed drums can be used to enhance rather than detract from a sound. Mysticum, however, prove themselves incapable of this, and those who fondly remember In The Streams of Inferno should give that industrial black metal classic a relisten rather than visit Planet Satan.

Killing Songs :
LSD, Far, All Must End
Goat quoted 50 / 100
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