If their self-titled debut is any indication, Italian newcomers Mourning Mist must surely subscribe to the notion that it’s better to be distinctive first and extremely refined second. After all, the album is often more intriguing than it is gripping, more of a curiosity than a true gem. But it is also much more than just your standard “promising debut,” as there are several moments when the seeds of brilliance can be heard, and said seeds are not only a tad unique within the current landscape, but uniquely delivered.
Getting a handle exactly what the band is up to – and by “getting a handle” I mean “accurately describing in words” – can be a bit tricky, as this is seemingly coming from many places and yet quite focused. The most direct link would be to a moderately progressive avant-garde-as-genre form of black metal not entirely unlike the less circus-oriented work of Arcturus. Vocals range from Valborgian yells and black metal screams to moody whispers, and the whole thing is sometimes filtered through a doom tempo and mood. So, not a direct link at all it turns out.
But what truly makes the band click is the violin. This isn’t something added as a gimmick once all of the metal was written, but a key ingredient from the very beginning. Ecnerual’s violin, therefore, is an integral part of the band’s sound, and his work is as diverse as it is wildly fun. It often acts as another guitar, such as during “Freefall,” where his “lead violin” intro could easily have been a guitar part, but the song’s vibe would have suffered as a result. Later in the song, that same motif is echoed by the guitar, while the violin takes its slithery work higher.
It all works best when the band leaves the minor meandering of tracks like opener “The Flowing” in favor of getting a bit livelier. Songs like “Torment” and “Rise and Decay” up the quality of instrumental interplay by showing off not only the guitar and violin, but the busy bass as well. Plus, extra touches like a really high pitched violin squeal or intentionally half-slopped guitar solo add a ton of character. This is not to suggest that the more free-flowing material doesn’t work, it just doesn’t quite reach the lofty infernal masquerade that it seems to be aping, and works much better when juxtaposed next to some rapid buzzing as part of a full dynamic range.
As implied, the album doesn’t always strike pure gold, but more often than not it entertains like crazy, and its status as a bit of a curiosity really adds to that entertainment. With obvious talent and an already distinctive sound, Mourning Mist is one to keep an eye on.