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Mystic Charm > Hell Did Freeze Over > Reviews > we hope you die
Mystic Charm - Hell Did Freeze Over

Provoking misdirected nostalgia - 79%

we hope you die, September 21st, 2022

Listening back to Mystic Charm today is to chart an entirely different course for extreme metal throughout the 1990s. There are countless old school acts lost to time, save for a few dedicated archivists preserving their work. There are a surprising number that still sound remarkably fresh today, leading one to wonder why their names do not more freely circulate in the lexicon. But even if bad luck, personal issues, or creative wells simply drying up prematurely, one can almost guarantee that one of today’s many committed nerds will excavate the legacy.

Mystic Charm are notable for combining a hazy doom metal aesthetic with early non-Nordic black metal a-la Samael, and sanctifying this marriage of drab psychedelia and violent occultism with a seamlessness that warrants some scrutiny. Here, Personal Records have pieced together a re-recording of their final EP ‘Hell did Freeze Over’ originally released in 2001, this time with their original vocalist Rini Lipman resuming her post, including the full session from their debut EP ‘Lost Empire’, only two tracks of which made it on to the original EP released back in 1993.

And herein lies the subtle art of selecting material worthy of re-release. Whilst the fact that this material could be considered hitherto unseen by the public and thus worthy of exposure, the real virtue behind this compilation is the chance to reinject some interest in this artist, and the corridors lost to time that a younger extreme metal scene was attempting to travel down in the 1990s.

Mystic Charm are notable for presenting the listener with a bundle of paradoxes. Their austere presentation sounds endlessly refreshing, yet their brand of loose, doomy, occultist metal is opulent, dramatic, extravagant, rich in ways more understated than iterations of artistry usually associated with these labels. Technically speaking this is very basic metal. Despite ladling on the doom riffs the pacing never feels depressed. The riffs are elegantly simple yet endlessly memorable. The simplest idea is given greater currency in the context of this tightly crafted, swampy gothic tinged metal. Today we might call it blackened doom metal, but their approach is far more laid back and direct than many currently operating under that particular tag.

The alternative history this music charts is one where black metal was not so rigidly (and violently) defined during its maturation in Norway. One where black metal is more an aesthetic to be applied to other older and more fully formed streams of metal, enhancing its dramatic, dark, and theatrical aspects. Mystic Charm marry Saint Vitus with Celtic Frost in a manner more explicit than Samael, using black metal’s unapologetic histrionics to sanctify the union and bring it to life. The intuitive simplicity behind this creation is admirable, yet it also provokes a sense of misdirected nostalgia at the alternative history that could have played out if the wholesome directness of Mystic Charm’s approach was given greater currency over gauche window dressing.

Originally published at Hate Meditations