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Mithras - Behind the Shadows Lie Madness

Mithras - Behind the Shadows Lie Madness
February 06, 2007, 08:33:33 AM
Mithras just recently posted (non-finalized) album art and a (finalized) sample song from their new album, which is due out April 16 in the USA:


My only complaint from the last album was the sometimes muddy mix, and this production seems to be an excellent clean-up job that maintains the astral atmosphere of "Worlds..." while adding a bit more clarity to the mix.

For any other interested individuals in the USA

The new Mithras CD is finally in-stock in the Candlelight US store for $12 shipped:


This album is awesome. Most of the stuff Candlelight releases is pure gold. Now if I could make a recommendation... anyone who likes trippy stuff like Mithras is bound to enjoy Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Good shit- even if it's not metal.

This is total fucking garbage. It's like 1990s progressive metal without the brain.

Without simplifying things too much, all I got from a cursory listen of this band a couple years back was "latter-day MORBID ANGEL with reverb-heavy soloing."  Throw it all in a pot and call it "trippy," if you will, but it sounded like utter bollocks to me.

I just listened to new album. It has some good riffing, but that's only thing you will get from this CD. I mean, in the first song for example, you have one riff, and than it progresses good, but after that there is much of repeating. Not crap band, but nothing special really.

RE: Mithras

Their first album showed sparks of creativity (mostly in the guitar solos and ambient sections), but ultimately, it is too immature in its form/structure and too full of hero-worship.

The second album, however, shows a tremendous leap forward for the band, as aside from a fragmented and overlong intro track, it has a keen eye for composition both in its individual songs, all of which feel like separate journeys through vaguely similar galaxies, and in its overarching construction, as a complete and focused trip into the outer-dimensions of death metal. As said several months ago, my only complaint with “Worlds…” is the fact that the mix tends to get a bit blurry whenever some of the heavily-distorted solos hit.

Unfortunately, the Candlelight US store seems to have bungled my order, so I haven't received the band's third disc yet.

And for the record, I would say that Mithras' "Worlds..." is the only non-reissue that I've heard from the modern-day Candlelight label that is of any worth at all.

Re: Mithras - Behind the Shadows Lie Madness
December 20, 2007, 08:39:15 PM
In true Candlelight fashion, I have finally completed my review for this album, just four months short of my originally scheduled due date (since this thread was dead and buried, I didn't bother to post the fact that it took the Candlelight mail-order company 50 days and a complaint from the Better Business Bureau--filed on my behalf--to get a copy of the CD to my mailbox). ;D

Mithras - "Behind the Shadows Lie Madness"
Candelight USA (2007)

Like “Worlds…” before it, “…Shadows’…” instrumental overture starts at the exact place where the previous album ended, but for this, the band’s third full effort, lead composer Leon Macey—perhaps at the spur of some of his more noisy critics—significantly shortens the duration of “…Shadows’…” introductory piece to a meager two minutes and four seconds.

Since the single, glaring compositional flaw from “Worlds…” was its fragmented and overlong introductory track, this change seems like it should be an improvement of some sort as far as the immediate impact of the first “real” track is concerned, yet, when the listener is launched so abruptly (and at this point, predictably) into “To Fall From The Heavens,” it feels as if the band has shot off prematurely, and in an ironic twist on its own name, “…Heavens” comes crashing down in disappointing fashion.

The loose screw at fault here is the unintentional comedy that explodes in front of the listener’s face as he/she attempts to reconcile the song’s musical content to the events that it is trying to portray; apparently, no one outside of the band thought it was a bit odd that, in a song about a mystical being emerging in a strange, ruined world, ruled by darkness and chaos, the first two riffs—around which the bulk of the song is built—sound like they are trying to incite the audience into an Irish jig. Then come the clean vocals (of all things!), whose court jester style seems totally out of place in the context of the rest of the album and only serves to make this track the biggest, most embarrassing goofball in the Mithras discography to date.

Mercifully, “…Heavens” does make up for these gaffs towards the end of its running time when it drops the Riverdance riffs and awkward, Garm-imitation to drift away into a brilliant, descending/ascending melody. Sadly, that closing portion of “To Fall from the Heavens” is one of maybe three or four other legitimately interesting sections that occur on the entire album (other standouts being the entirety of “Where the Sun Never Leaves,” from the solo section forward in “Awaken the Kings,” and the pinch-harmonic theme from “Behind the Shadows”), as for the most part, "...Shadows..."feels like it has lost all of the vision and imagination that made the band’s previous album such a transcendent listening experience.

The main culprit here is songwriting, both in regards to the song’s individual parts and to their overarching structure. A big part of what made “Worlds…” so successful was its ability to achieve a fluidity of movement from beginning to end, within each of the songs, and from each song to the next. Much of this finesse can be traced to the strong integration of guitar solos and ambient segues, both of which helped to give “Worlds…” a very natural flow of emotion and energy. Listening to “…Shadows…,” it feels as if the band has completely lost its sense of pacing; virtually all of the guitar solos lack direction (and more importantly, purpose), making them feel more ornamental than organic, while the ambient sections seem well-written when taken out of their context, only to appear jarring and tacked-on when encountered naturally within the course of the album.

Regrettably, it is not just the guitar solos and ambient interludes that suffer from poor songwriting; it is also the guitar riffs and drum rhythms. On previous albums, these two attributes were key contributors to the band’s success, but for “…Shadows..,” the riffs and rhythms reveal themselves as deadly conspirators responsible for much of the music’s downfall.  Aside from the goofy jig that opens the album, the vast majority of guitar riffs on “…Shadows…” feel like leftovers that weren’t good enough to make it onto “Worlds…” and were thusly zipped up into plastic wrappers, thrown into storage for a little while, and reopened whenever it came time to write the new album.

Unfortunately, knowing the creative personalities of Macey and Cross, this is likely not the case, as a great deal of time and effort seems to have been sacrificed during the creation of “…Shadows…”; the problem, then, must be that the band has dug themselves into the same creative rut that wears down most metal bands, i.e., the curse of following up a masterful album number two with an album number three that is on-par with—or less likely, superior to—its predecessors.

“Hell Awaits,” “Pleasure to Kill,” “Darkness Descends,” “Unquestionable Presence,” “Cause of Death,” “Consuming Impulse,” “Legion,” “Blessed Are the Sick,” “To Mega Therion,” “Beyond Sanctorum,” “The Red in the Sky is Ours,” “North From Here,” “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” “Dol Guldur,” et al. support the theory that metal bands whose creative energies extend beyond a debut album tend to perfect their original sound by album number two, at which point they must choose to completely reinvent themselves (“Obscura,” “Beneath the Remains,” “Reign in Blood,” “Symphony Masses,” “Testimony of the Ancients,” to name a few; for obvious reasons, this group is much smaller than the ones listed above and below it) or begin to slide eternally downhill into creative obscurity, at best, or unmitigated gutter trash, at worst (way too many bands to list).

In truth, aside from the farcical opening of “To Fall From the Heavens,” these ears have found but a single attempt at progressing the band’s sound, and that cautionary move ends up being an ankle-breaking misstep: specifically, Mr. Macey’s drumming.

On the two previous Mithras albums, the drums are primarily kept on-beat with the guitars (fills included, which previously, have been Macey’s greatest creative achievement as a drummer). Because of this stylistic decision, the drums on “…Legions” and “Worlds…” become a powerful accent to the guitar playing, making the guitar work feel much more massive than it does now. For “…Shadows…,” Macey creates drum patterns that fall largely on the unaccented beats of his guitar riffs/solos, and consequently, much (at times, all) of the music’s power has been lost.

“…Shadows'…” production approach also plays a part in the band’s newfound lack of power. By giving the drums and guitars a slicker, cleaner tone, the ethereal atmosphere present on “…Legions” and “Worlds…” has been almost completely sterilized. In its place, there is what feels like a plastic mold of “Worlds…,” containing some of its shape and form, but none of its personality, none of its character, and chiefly, none of its spirit.  

If one is to trust the twenty year’s of trends in metal music, it seems that there are now only two directions for Mithras to go: regurgitating this same insipid formula until they fall asleep, choke, and die, or alternatively, throwing their laurels into the garbage bin, reevaluating their approach to music, and emerging with a unique vision, complete in purpose, direction, and spirit.

If the quantum-leap forward from “…Legions” to “Worlds…” is any indication of the band’s current potential, this reviewer will keep hope alive for the next Mithras release. Perhaps they should look to Kepler for inspiration.


Re: Mithras - Behind the Shadows Lie Madness
December 25, 2007, 12:07:10 PM
Without simplifying things too much, all I got from a cursory listen of this band a couple years back was "latter-day MORBID ANGEL with reverb-heavy soloing."  Throw it all in a pot and call it "trippy," if you will, but it sounded like utter bollocks to me.

Ignore the hype, all Mithras cds are exactly this. Pay no mind to this band.