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Mystigma - Schattenboten (2016) - Review

Band: Mystigma
Album title: Schattenboten
Release date: 8 April 2016
Label: Timezone

01. Weltenbrand
02. In meinem Schatten
03. Tiefer
04. Diva Harmagedon
05. Für diesen Augenblick
06. Legenden
07. Zu Staub
08. In Asche
09. Niemand außer uns
10. Wenn alles endet
11. Deine letzte Stunde
12. Das stärkste Leid
13. Gottlos
14. Daliah

If the golden days of German gothic metal are almost forgotten there are still some bands left from that era and struggling on; one of them are Mystigma. This combo recently released their fifth full-lenght album, ok, fourth as Mystigma, because the debut, Reflect Project: Colder Side, was released under the monicker Tears Of Mystigma, but nevertheless, it goes for the same band. They were formed back in 1993 and have since the beginning quite a steady core line-up, with just few changes behind the drums and some musicians who came and go. I quite liked their previous album, Unzerbrechlich, which was released around three years ago, some of the songs on that one really hit me, and even if the band did some changes in their sound and compositions, the new album is in a way a logical continuation of its predecessor. Now, if Unzerbrechlich  was quite a dynamic, powerful, yet dark and groovy kind of a generic German gothic metal, Schattenboten is much more down to earth record, a bit gloomier, yes, and a bit more decadent.

With that said, don't expect something striking this time around, there are some changes if compared to Unzerbrechlich, the most notable one is that this time the band decided to write all of the lyrics in German language. This fact didn't make me happy, mostly because in the past I used to like more those songs of Mystigma that had English texts, but in fact they got me by surprise and show that they can produce also good, dark and catchy songs even if sangt in German. There's no doubt that musically this album is Mystigma's most mature work to date, featuring fourteen very solid songs, but at the same time there are a few boring and uninspired fillers. Nevertheless, I admire this band, mostly because they follow their vision, they are not burdened by trends and what they do, they do it with commitment and conviction towards melancholic dark music trying to create something that their label described as mythical gloom.

The two brothers Bäumer and company hits with dense and often melodic guitar riffs, intertwined with strong groovy rhythmic lines and just right amount of dark electronics, gothic keys and some strings that deepens the ambiance. Torsten's emotional, powerful and charismatic rather raspy velvety voice leads the listener through this opus full of driving gothic metal tracks like it's the amazing opener "Weltenbrand" or the very next one "In meinem Schatten". Then the heavy hitting, filled with huge amount of electronic samples, "Für diesen Augenblick", "Legenden" and "Wenn alles endet", show the experimental and heavier metallic side of the band. But also the more intimate tracks like it's the extremely catchy "Gottlos", or the one with almost popy refrain, yet flirting with German schlager and some gothic rock elements, "Diva Harmagedon", and the emotive ballad "Daliah" can be counted as highlights of this album and not only, I think those are maybe some of the best tracks this band ever did. Now, if I was rather dissapointed with various elements taken from NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle/New German Wave) on their previous album, I can't find so many of those on this one, with exception of "Zu Staub", what is certainly a plus. There are many captivating melodic lines that symphatize with neo-classical arrangements and there's constantly present kind of a moody morbid melancholic feeling that will most certainly satisfy more romantic and darkened souls out there.

But even if the band did everything with kind of a finesse and focus there are tracks that are more or less just mellow repetitions of everything that Mystigma stands for, so, the uninspired "In Asche" or "Das stärkste Leid", but also the tender "Niemand außer uns" are in my opinion those not worth your time, but still, Schattenboten is an album full of variations, combining very well together generic gothic metal with gothic rock, dark cyber electronics, a pinch of classical music and some atmospheric metal with an alternative popy edge. Mystigma, who are in my opinion undeservedly overlooked and underrated band did a good album after all and some of the songs will most certainly remain stucked in your head for a long time if you just give them a chance.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 7,5/10