Evil comes in different shapes. In South America, the shape it assumed was mostly primitive, raw, and dirty until The World Is So Good That Who Made It Doesn’t Live Here was released. Finding an early interest in extreme metal in 80s, many South American bands experimented with filthy sounds that had not been quite discovered before their time. A record store that was already active before this particular kind of extreme metal rose, Cogumelo Records, became the meeting spot for a lot of early Brazilian first wave black, death, and thrash metal bands. The best example of the thrashy, primitive, aggressive sound of the region from that era would be the cult album, I.N.R.I., by Sarcófago.
Meanwhile, another Brazilian black metal band, Mystifier, had the idea of toning down the aggressive, thrashy first wave black metal sound over time while going completely in an evil, occult direction. Their earliest demos showed their intentions of the sound to come. In 1992, after some competent pre-debut material, they released their first two full-lengths, Wicca and Göetia, in the span of a year. Flowing very smoothly one after the other, these two albums could even be considered two sides of a double album. On these albums, Mystifier embraced a different kind of evil unlike the thrashy, early extreme metal of the continent and of the majority of those Cogumelo bands. Looking very calm on the outside; the extremely bass heavy, mid-tempo, synth-laden sound of Mystifier did an extraordinary job of invoking evil feelings compared to some of their European peers. They were in the deep end of the occult imagery and themes as one can guess by looking at song titles such as “An Elizabethan Devil Worshipper’s Prayer Book” or “The True Story About the Doctor Faust’s Pact with Mephistopheles”.
These two albums were similar to the doomy, mid-tempo early works of Samael -if one must find a European equivalent of their sound. In 1996, with the release of a whole different kind of evil, The World Is So Good That Who Made It Doesn’t Live Here, Mystifier would re-define the meaning of a unique sounding black metal album. They mixed their own sinister approach to occult black metal with other rising underground European sounds of the decade such as the traditional heavy metal inspired Hellenic black metal and the forward-thinking Czech artists. To start the album on a very high note, it welcomes the listener with just the thing they would not expect to find on a 90s black metal album: clean, operatic vocals. The signature vocals of the band, varying between whispers and different bestial tones of harsh vocals, still carry the album forward while the clean, operatic vocals supplement them and make their appearance almost on all tracks.
Even if occultism and anti-religion are common themes in black metal, Mystifier’s lyrics have never been simple and dull. Similar to the more sophisticated approach of Master’s Hammer to Satanism, Mystifier mostly dealt with topics like the devil in humankind or actual violence and injustice on the so-called earthly paradise. With the aptly titled album, The World Is So Good That Who Made It Doesn’t Live Here, the band doubled up the philosophical commentary on the world using their usual occult themes. In fact, this was one of the reasons there was a three-year gap between this album and the previous one, they re-wrote the entire lyrics during the process as a reaction to the rising black metal trends of the mid 90s for which they had a certain distaste.
Another similarity to the works of Master’s Hammer is the clean production of the album. It is much more polished than the first two and every instrument is clearly pronounced to go well with the creative use of vocals. The production really puts forward the guitar work that is now more influenced by Greek and Czech scenes than ever while not obscuring the smooth bass work -without which it wouldn’t be a Mystifier album. Synths and keys have always been another integral part of their sound, having been used masterfully to create their unique evil atmosphere in the past. This time, instead of relying on synths to create that deep, mystic atmosphere; they are used to carry the songs forward at different occasions and somehow they do that just as well as lead guitars would. The synth-driven sections of the album feature some of the most creative synth melodies in the band’s discography. The thirty six minute-long album ends with the epic closer, Moonick (Why Does It Never Rain on the Moon?), a very melancholic and sad song that you could not easily find on your typical 90s black metal album:
The loneliness torn me into pieces
But thou hast helped me
Now I am here to fulfil my promise
Now, you close your eyes. Why?
Because i’m going to make rain on the moon
Mystifier have recently signed with Season of Mist for their comeback album, Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia (Greek for Primal Black Magical Dynasty), which is already on pre-orders and will be officially out soon. Considering they kept releasing modern material even in this century while keeping their old school approach and the evil atmosphere, it would not be surprising at all to see their new album making the mix of modern production and their old sound work and being one of the strongest releases of 2019. Furthermore, on the title track of the new album, they’ve got guest performances from some interesting names like Proscriptor (Absu), Prurient, Jim Mutilator (ex-Rotting Christ/Varathron) and the Hellenic Choir (Zeorge & Nicholas).
Even though Mystifier’s overall best work is usually (and deservedly so) considered to be Wicca or Göetia by the fans as they feature some of the finest moments of the band’s signature occult black metal sound; The World Is So Good That Who Made It Doesn’t Live Here absolutely should not be overlooked. It is at least just as good as the ones that came before, if not even better. It is not as primitive and eerie, but it is a timeless album that was way ahead of its time and has a unique sound that is yet to be explored further even today.
Album rating: 96/100
Favorite song: Moonick (Why Does It Never Rain on the Moon?)