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Chapter 1: Tormenting the Holy Trinity - 92%

UncleMeat, January 26th, 2009

In the 80’s and early 90’s, Mystifier were a truly magnificent band, who, in my eyes, made some of the finest black metal that the genre has ever seen, and Tormenting the Holy Trinity is a good example why. Additionally, it also shows the first and logical step towards what would become the mighty Mystifier, and the brilliance they would achieve a little later on. A little before Mystifier’s inception, there were a lot of bands coming from Brazil such as Vulcano, Expulser, Genocidio, Sextrash etc, that all played their own take on the thrash metal genre and fused it with death metal and in some cases, early black metal. It was Mystifier’s disregard for what a lot of their local contemporaries were doing by playing a unique form of relentless and bestial black metal that made them one of Brazil’s most notable ugly ducklings.

As expected, the production here is very raw and quite hideous, which adds an extra layer of filth to the already primal and bestial nature of the demo. But despite its rawness, the mixing and leveling is actually done well enough to allow the riffing from both the guitar and bass to be heard quite easily. The guitar tone is pretty fuzzy and kind of sounds like an entire hive of bees trapped inside of a metal container that is being miked and put through a distortion pedal. The bass has a clean tone and sits well in the mix, adding the low-end frequencies that the guitar on this recording lacks. The drums are pretty thin sounding but all in all are not too bad. The vocals are never overbearing nor are they mixed too low. A little slap-back delay or reverb would have made them sound even more possessed then they already do, but, even in their unadulterated state, they could surely raise the dead. All together, it sounds like the producer knew how to make good use out of bad equipment and had some basic mixing knowledge.

At this point in Mystifier’s existence, a lot of their sound was made up of tremolo picked riffing frenzies, gruff, mid-range growls and ruthless blastbeats, all woven together with simple but effective song structures. The vocals are done by Naosouninguem, but compared to his performance on Wicca, you would not be able to tell unless you looked at the line up. His vocals here gruff barks done in a staccato-like manner and are fitting for the demo, but I’m glad he had developed a more powerful and eerie vocal style that you can see get increasingly better on each release until he was booted after Wicca was released. Another difference is that the guitar here is not that downtuned, and sounds like it may even be in standard tuning. Certain characteristics come up every once in a while that are reminiscent of certain riffs from Possessed’s Seven Churches in the sense that they can contain only 4 different notes, but the second or fourth time the riff is repeated, they play one of the same notes but at a higher octave, which doesn’t sound like anything out of ordinary but the way they execute it is done to add a level of ferocity as opposed to being used as an accent. But as I said, this only occurs a few times, where as Possessed made it part of their signature sound. During the faster sections, the riffs tend to be tremolo picked individual notes, and the slower sections are where chords are used. They alternate between the two somewhat sloppily, but given the overall nature of this recording, it just works so well. The bass just follows the guitar pretty much note for note, so there is nothing to really discuss there. The drums pretty much stay stick to a primitive blast beat formula, which is a relentless beating of the hi-hat, snare and bass drum, which continues for about 95% of the recording and doesn’t have much variety at all, but like all the other characteristics that make this demo what it is, it works.

Again, one does not listen to this demo expecting diversity, stellar musicianship, or anything too mind-boggling. This recording is meant to be taken in for what it is, which is the first step towards what would become the brilliance shown on their next two full lengths. But if you’re like me, and have a love for raw, primal and filthy metal, then none of this matters, because it is a highly enjoyable recording for anyone into this sound. What may be considered flaws by some listeners who simply can not handle the rawer side of metal, are seen as beneficial factors for us who can. Still to this day, Tormenting the Holy Trinity is revered not only as a classic demo, but also as an essential piece in the history of Brazilian extreme metal. Highly recommended.