Despite hailing from Sweden, Mystik’s self-titled debut album takes a very German approach to ’80s speed metal revivalism. The guitars have a hefty tone that parallels the most primordial efforts of Helloween or Blind Guardian (“Ancient Majesty,” anyone?) while the vocals recall Warlock-era Doro Pesch at her nastiest. The drum technique is also rather interesting, setting the speeds with clunky gallops that feel more reminiscent of Mikkey Dee’s work with King Diamond than Thomen Stauch or Ingo Schwichtenberg.
But one thing that really sets this album apart from similar acolytes is the production job. Such rawness is common with bands of the style, but Mystik takes it to especially claustrophobic levels as the overwhelming instruments leave the vocals in an almost whispered shrill at times. While this initially raises concern, none of the band’s power is diminished. It may even work in their favor as the constant pounding gives the songs a stormy feel that goes right in line with the darkest excursions.
The solid songwriting also helps the album keep from feeling too stock, especially during the second half. In an album full of speeders, “Lake of Necrosis” makes for a strong turning point thanks to its organ intro, clearer atmosphere, and more scaled back pacing. From there, the songs take a noticeably uplifting tone with “Bleed for the Night” and “Mystik” sounding particularly anthemic. I totally thought the band name was just ‘mystic with a k’ but it might actually be ‘mystique with a k’ if the latter song’s chorus is anything to go by. Maybe it’s just the singer’s accent…
Much like Mystik’s name semantics, their self-titled debut offers a unique take on what could be a potentially played out style. While the production does take some getting used to, the album comes through thanks to its charmingly gritty musicianship and determined songwriting. It may take an extra listen to get a feel for, but it sits comfortably alongside such modern staples as Savage Master and Satan’s Hallow.
“Lake of Necrosis”
“Bleed for the Night”