MYSTIFIER / LUCIFER’S CHILD – Under Satan’s Wrath (2022)REVIEW

An important ‘cult’ (or more fittingly, occult) underground black metal fixture and an far north-eastern oddity way up in the port city of Salvador, Mystifier had long enjoyed a certain forever underground status alongside city-mates Headhunter D.C. as Brazilian extreme metal you’d have to hunt for with serious intent to ever find. Being linked into various distros, visionary labels, the madness of black/death metal zines of the 90’s, and of course tape collection circles was really the only way you’d have known about the group and their infamous run of bestial-meets-stoic occult black/death metal records in the 90’s and a more ‘polished’ vision on their fourth LP ‘Profanus‘ in 2001. All of it was essentially produced, arranged and conceptualized by bassist (and later guitarist) Beelzeebubth, who’d taken complete creative control of the band from that point on, if not sooner.

You didn’t hear much about Mystifier post-millennium ’til folks on the internet piracy blogspace of a certain era began ripping copies via a specific license (to the Russian label CD-Maximum) of the double CD collection of their early 90’s material wherein ‘Göetia‘ (1992) and ‘Wicca‘ (1993) made their way into file-hoarder collections in glorious mud-butt 128k MP3 form. This’d been a revelation to me at the time (~2005) having explored some but not all of the early Osmose Productions catalog at the time and wondering how I’d worshipped records like ‘Thy Mighty Contract‘ for decades but had only just heard this. The reissues and renown wouldn’t really reach deserved levels for the group until the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, wherein these entirely obscure occult black/death metal gems found their mark if only for the sake of nostalgia and documentation catching on with the greater extreme metal headspace hand-in-hand, point being that Mystifier were worth remembering. Beelzeebubth eventually returned with a crew of folks capable of pulling off an album, particularly featuring collaboration with Sorcerer Do’Urden (Infested Blood) as key presence, and they’ve thrived since.

Having been released by the undersold and pointless sub-class “underground activists” of hot-to-trot label Season of Mist the return of Mystifier in the form of ‘Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia‘ (2019) landed in a strange space in terms of it not ending up in my inbox as a promo at the time, ridiculous. It was a fine return from an entity that hadn’t forgotten who they were nor where they’d come from yet it was likewise a continuation of this vision for the band’s sound that’d lost -some- of its bestial black/death rabidity for the sake of the Greek, Italian and eastern European sounds of black metal in the late 80’s/early 90’s where Mystifier had arguably always been best set (hence the Osmose relation early on). Anyhow, the long wind-up here is for the sake of getting to write about this band after not having the chance for ~17 years, they’re great and the material on this split shows exactly why.

These three songs don’t appear to have been from the 2017/2018 sessions of Mystifier‘s most recent full-length. Though their approach and render is similar, these recordings feature a new second guitarist Kaverna and drummer Betto Apophis and were largely recorded in 2020. The old, dead souls that’ve long guided us through these eternal halls are yet alight herein as the stomped intro to “Death Beyond Holy Creation” rings its first handful of bass hits as if a bell of cataclysm, cutting into a rabid fast-paced song fittingly set within the realm of their homebrewed yet professional atmospheric aim, a cold and directive piece which soon sprawls and restates itself at once around ~1:35 minutes in. “Under Inhumane Spells” sets an even more intense pace, slapping into a riff progression that more or less gels with the thread introduced by the first piece on their side introducing a simple song structure, the bones of a classic heavy metal song if we get down to it, and a marked uptick in lead guitar focused movements. Each band has provided a cover song for this split and “Worship Her”, Mystifier‘s rhythmically faithful rendition of Samael‘s “Worship Him”, is a memorable highlight for its in tact riff progressions and inspired leads.

On the flipside we have a much newer entity in Athens, Greece-based black metal trio Lucifer’s Child lead by recording engineer (Pentagram Studios) and former Rotting Christ live guitarist George Emmanuel and featuring members of popular groups Chaostar and Karma Violens. Formed in 2013 and featuring a more accessible, modern sound than their split-mates here, this group weren’t really on my radar until their second album ‘The Order‘ (2018) and even then it wasn’t initially clear what they were going for on my part. Consider that album an exploration of Bathory-esque progressions, later-era Rotting Christ theatrics and a sort of ‘dark metal’ approach just short of the catchier hooks one would expect from that sort of tag, you’ll recognize this sound as soon as their opening piece “Satan’s Wrath” kicks into gear. I don’t personally like the vocal effects, or, at least the register of ’em used for this song but I do think the two pieces they’ve included on this split show some progression or ulterior refinement beyond ‘The Order‘. Likewise, “Through Fire We Burn” off of that second album is probably the best introduction to their style overall and their fantastic cover of Bathory‘s “Enter the Eternal Fire” on this split sort of lands in a similar context despite it being a well-worn anthem for a lot of black metal listeners worth their salt.

Though I’ve clearly picked Mystifier as a favored subject in terms of the written word here, as a split and a listening experience ‘Under Satan’s Wrath‘ is overall well paired between these two artists, both of whom have the old ways clogging up their veins and incensing their minds. The process of enjoyment here lead me down a fairly logical path — Name recognition, legacy/nostalgic musing, prosperity within new material, solidarity through cover pieces, admiration of fine art direction, and ultimately appreciating the pairing of perspectives herein. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (77/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Under Satan’s Wrath
LABEL(S):Agonia Records
RELEASE DATE:March 25th, 2022

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