Released: 2007, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: J. Campbell
Ever wanted to know what Morbid Angel would sound like…in SPACE? Buy this record.
Okay, that’s a gross oversimplification of a very cool album, but it’s not entirely inaccurate. Mithras crafts some brutally assaultive death metal in the aforementioned Azagthoth vein, but with a unique atmospheric vision unrivaled by any of their peers, save possibly for Augury. Four years after their breakthrough, WORLDS BEYOND THE VEIL, they’ve returned to explore that vision once again.
A two-minute, ethereal synth intro kicks things off. While this type of thing usually makes me want to punch someone in the kneecap, it sets the tone surprisingly well. As it segues from subtle majesty into the first “real” song, “To Fall From The Heavens”, and the eerie guitar harmonies mesh with the dominating drum onslaught, the sonic ride begins. Mithras take complete control of the senses, and Leon Macey’s hyper-cosmic leads send the listener hurtling through the universe. This fretboard assault will pound you into dust, and spew your ashes into space…and while floating in the vastness, you’ll realize that the massiveness of BEHIND THE SHADOWS LIE MADNESS is truly awesome.
Each of these 12 otherworldly compositions flows marvelously, guided by stellar lead guitar work. Jaw-dropping shredding, squealing harmonics, grandiose sweeps…it’s all here, performed in a sprawling style unlike anything I’ve ever heard. The balanced production allows it all to shine brightly; the merciless double bass and blastbeat attack never rises too high in the mix, thus juxtaposing serenity and viciousness better than any pure DM album I’ve come across in recent memory. Adding to this balancing effect, a small handful of instrumental interludes are seamlessly woven throughout. The calming ambiance of “When The Light Fades Away” and “The Beacon Beckons” is simply breathtaking, and truly elevate the achievement as a whole. Unquestionably, this is as epic as it gets.
BEHIND THE SHADOWS LIE MADNESS isn’t flawless, however. The vocal performance is disappointingly basic, a mid-ranged and monotonous bark with minimal variation. And as grand and distinctive as the album’s scope may be, there’s not a truly memorable riff or vocal line to be found, nor any standout tracks. While Mithras may take you to a place you’ve never been before, odds are you aren’t going to recall many details of the journey upon its conclusion. The reliance on whirlwind technicalities simply doesn’t generate catchiness, so this galactic goliath isn’t tailored for everyone. It’s meant to be taken as a whole, from opening note ‘til close; those willing to delve deep into these black holes of oblivion will be rewarded with a beautifully crushing death metal experience.