Mysticum- Planet Satan (Peaceville)

Was it worth the wait?
Release Date: 
27 Oct 2014 (All day)

There have been certain albums in the rock and metal worlds that have managed to achieve a somewhat mythical status due to the exorbitant amount of time taken to make them; Chinese Democracy by Guns N Roses and Time by Wintersun are two such examples that spring immediately to mind. Well, Mysticum’s second album, Planet Satan, is the equivalent to a Chinese Democracy and Time in 90’s Norwegian black metal circles.

Way back in 1996, Mysticum released In the Streams of Inferno. It’s an album that manages to stand out even during the creative peak of the second wave of Norwegian black metal because of its incorporation of industrial influences into the black metal sound. The use of a drum machine took the already cold and hostile music that is black metal and pushed it even further, making it sound downright alien and giving birth to industrial black metal.

Not long afterwards, Mysticum reportedly began work on a follow up to be titled Planet Satan. However, the years went by and nothing seemed to happen and then in 2002 the band announced they were going on hiatus. It seemed as if Planet Satan was never to see the light of day until the band reformed in 2011 and finally started working in earnest to bring it to life.

Now, I must admit that I only heard about Mysticum due to the impending release of Planet Satan and as such I went into it with no expectations. My opinion of this album hasn’t been coloured by 18 odd years as a fan waiting in anticipation for it, so you may or may not take it with a grain of salt when I say that this album is actually pretty good.

Opening track LSD assaults the listener with a wall of icy fury. It’s some of the most ferocious black metal I’ve heard this year and the strange, 8-bit electronics that kick in around the 3:40 mark the otherworldly hostility at play here. Follow up tracks Annihilation and Far follow this template pretty closely, the beats being relentlessly driven by the drum machine. The use of the drum machine will be a love it or hate it aspect of this album; there’s repeated use of very electronic sounding snares and of the track Fist of Satan, they are programmed so fast that it becomes a bit ludicrous. Thankfully, it’s not all one note as The Ether and closer Dissolve Into Impiety incorporate foreboding atmospherics into the mix.

Ultimately, Planet Satan is a solid black metal album with a few interesting deviations from the norm. The industrial elements give it a unique flavour but I doubt that this is the genre-defying masterpiece long-time fans had been waiting for. First time listeners should enjoy it, but this is definitely an album that benefits from having the weight of expectations lifted from your shoulders.

Planet Satan is out now.