There is a beauty in melancholy which, when expressed through music that mirrors its attributes, can be truly mesmerizing. Mist of Misery is all about this dark beauty; they are not trying to create black metal that is frightening, demonic, or anything of the sort. This is romantic; it is black capes and candles and wine and Shakespeare and broken hearts. The cover is of a lone cloaked figure amongst twisted trees; even the logo itself is constructed of elegant spirals and wispy lines that tell you this is music meant to be emotive. The title of Absence speaks of this same longing, and it takes a full five minutes after an intro track and a couple minutes into the first proper track for anything resembling metal to even exist. Keyboards create a lovely ambient piece that emulates violins and reeks of sadness, setting a mood which emanates throughout the entire album.
When the metal aspect becomes apparent, it hits hard, beginning with a decent riff and a fairly standard scream that quickly shifts tempo into a fury that commands attention. Like a slap to the face, I am reminded of just what it is about this genre that fills me with such passion, and quickly I want to look at the lyrics and sing along with every raspy growl. Evoking a past style of bands such as Graveworm and Hecate Enthroned, Mist of Misery create a sound that has largely been discarded due to a few bands’ popularity, which tainted the appeal of this particular style years ago.
The guitars and vocals are fairly standard—the kind of thing you would expect if you were familiar with the genre. A powerful, raspy scream works well based on the excellent vocal patterns. The guitars create a great deal of atmosphere through melodic sections, which are themselves enhanced by the keyboards and field recordings of waves and storms, but it really is the keys themselves that are the foundation of Mist of Misery’s music. Whoever wrote this album clearly is a legitimate fan of classical music, and many sections sound quite close to a harpsichord. The link between black metal and classical music has always existed, hence why a few bands, with popularity, started using orchestras, and this is the kind of thing I would love to hear with some actual violins and cellos. Easily half, if not more of the music, is completely instrumental, and only some of that even has guitar. This would obviously be a problem live as the musicians are forced to stand around waiting for their next section, but as a studio recording, it really sets the mood and allows the album to be an excellent listen that demands to be repeated.
With very moving instrumental sections and catchy songwriting, Mist of Misery have a lot going for them. This music absolutely takes you on a journey, one of the Tolkien-esque adventures and sorrow that are so rampant in certain corners of black metal. It also brings you back to an earlier time in the genre where catchy songwriting and loads of atmosphere were the name of the game. Above all, it is pretty cool to see this kind of thing still going on within a genre that has gone through significant changes since the time when such a style was better known. Absence is not out to change the rules or do something completely different, although the reliance on keys is certainly more obvious here than for other projects. This is more about finding comfort in the shadows that have come to be well-known.
01) Melancholic Thoughts
04) Final Departure
05) Epitaph of Penitence
06) Wistful Twilight
07) Paragon of Perdition
08) Mist of Misery
09) Serenity in Nothingness