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Mistralth : But a Walking Shadow

A perfect bleak soundtrack for the dying of the light: Mistralth's latest Death/Doom full-length.

'But a Walking Shadow' sees Finnish Death-Doom titans Mistralth return with their third full length album, following on from 2017's 'My Grief'. That was an album that was reviewed in glowing terms here at Doom-metal.com, and indeed elsewhere. There will always be pressure on a band when following up such a well-received record, but there is little sign of nerves on this crushing release. Once again, Mistralth have summoned their trademark withering, brutal sound and produced an album steeped in the deepest melancholy and the blackest rage.

Darkness and sorrow prevail from the outset, as the intro track begins with the sound of prolonged, spirit-sapping heavy rain and atmospheric synth effects that set the scene for the onslaught to follow. It's a gentle yet ominous reintroduction to Mistralth before the aptly named 'Grey' drags the listener into a bleak monochrome soundscape of misery and rage, bereft of light or hope. Fans of the last album will feel right at home returning to the dark world of atmospheric Death-Doom Mistralth are able to create. Bludgeoning brutality and death growls are rounded and refined by sparse, introspective instrumental passages to create a well crafted and potent blend of woe and lamentation.

Such is the withering intensity of 'But a Walking Shadow', one can't help but feel that Mistralth have managed to do what didn't seem possible and taking a step further into the abyss than even the harrowing, 'My Grief' managed. The one moment of relative respite on the album is the gentler tone of 'Breathe', which does indeed give the listener a chance to draw breath. It's perhaps not so much a chink of light in the darkness, as the first traces of sombre grey on a November dawn; still melancholy, but a lighter interlude, nonetheless. With hushed, whispered vocals and a more reflective tone than much of the album, it adds a good balance, and, if not quite adding light and shade, adds a touch of charcoal to the blackness.

The album ends on its most harrowing note, with the epic study of sadness that is 'Nothingness'. Bleak by name and bleaker by nature, it builds slowly, relentlessly into a punishing and emotional roar into the depths of the abyss. It ends, as the album began, with the sound of pouring rain; not jut a few seconds or so, as the album fades out, but a good two minutes of nothing but a relentless downpour. No fading guitars or synths, no vocals. Nothing but rain. It has a surprisingly unsettling effect that needs to be heard to be fully appreciated and is possibly the bleakest end to an album I have ever heard. And believe me, I have heard some pretty dark shit in my time. As we enter October, the leaves begin to turn and fall, and the shadows lengthen, 'But a Walking Shadow' is the perfect soundtrack to the failing of the light.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Intro
2. Grey
3. Forbidden
4. Breathe
5. Empty
6. Nothingness

Duration : Approx. 40 minutes

Visit the Mistralth bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-10-19 by Nick Harkins
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