Mystagogue, Mories & Inflammatory Statements
I’m trying old things. Today, some new blackgaze from members of Gnaw Their Tongues and Laster.
Let us begin by addressing the elephants in the room. Firstly, the nanogenre of blackgaze has been terrible since Black Monolith released Passenger and then never released anything else. If you slept on that record, it was a one-man one-off from a former member of Deafheaven, as lo-fi and blown out as it is possible for a black metal record to be while remaining intelligible. That record ruled because it did not sound tired. It sounded alive. And pissed about it. Since then, it’s been all downhill. Every time I check out a new blackgaze release, I immediately think: “Oh no, honey, just no.” And then immediately after spooling up Mystagogue‘s debut, And the Darkness Was Cast Out Into the Wilderness, I thought: “Oh yes. Please yes.” Why? More on that later.
Firstly, the other elephant. Mories, the terminally fecund mind behind Gnaw Their Tongues et al., releases too much music. He seems to announce something new (or something old dredged up from the previous decade) every week on social media. About one in five of these releases feels necessary, and that’s being generous. There are several of his projects that I cannot tell apart. Several others still that I have never checked out because who has that kind of time? I understand that it may be necessary for Mories to work at this clip as some sort of creative therapy. (Or maybe he’s got some raging child-support bills to pay.) But I cannot imagine what kind of warped troglodyte would feel the need to listen to it all.
Now, if you’re a regular old Toilet-type troglodyte who digs black metal and fuzz, you need to listen to Mystagogue. From start to finish their debut dons no frills and takes no risks. And yet its energy and urgency are a breath of fresh air in the overpopulated gene-pool of blackgaze with its deleterious mutation load and distressed allele supply. Every song is an absolute assault of brightness, loathing and hiss. Think Deafheaven when they’re not too busy navel-gazing or just plain fucking around (which, let’s be honest, is most of the time). The production is rough yet hot, not icy, and clear enough to bring the drums to the fore where they can do the most damage. The compositions are primarily blasty and chord-driven, blessedly free of the flowery kind of shit that renders so much blackgaze cloying. The brightness I mentioned above is not inspired by sun-dappled childhood nostalgia or plastic Californian utopias; its source is that fire that knowledge of death lights under our butts every stupid day. These songs don’t gaze away from blackness; they gaze defiantly into it.
The greatest upshot to And the Darkness Was etc. is that it does not waste a single second of your time. The songs are all short and sweet, under five minutes. No long, slow, quiet interludes. No needless proliferation of unrelated parts tacked together for the fuck of it. No throwaway ambient or acoustic tracks. (In the right hands these tools can be wonderful—but how often do they end up in the right hands?)
Mystagogue is comprised of only W. Damiaen, the drummer from costumed weirdos Laster, and Mories de Jong. And you know what? For my money it’s more satisfying than most of what its constituent artists have released separately. Only time will tell if the project is just another damned one-off. With the quality this high, I hope not.
And the Darkness Was Cast Out Into the Wilderness was released by Vendetta Records on June 21, 2019.
∞Band photo via bandcamp∞