Back in the late ‘90s and entering the early 2000s, Black Metal was in peak production around Europe. A part of what some consider the second wave of the sub-genre, bands like Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Cradle of Filth all had their share of success during this period, but there were others who lurked in the darkness as well. Some include Marduk, Immortal, but also Germany’s Mystic Circle.
Mystic Circle, originally formed all the way back in 1992, went through some changes and released their debut album Morgenröte – Der Schrei nach Finsternis in 1996. A launching point that burnt a flame for a decade span, there is no arguing that their 1999 album Infernal Satanic Verses stands out boldly. Continuing along, the band ceased to exist following the release of 2006’s The Bloody Path of God, ultimately pursuing other projects in 2007. Seemingly the end, surprising to some, Mystic Circle re-emerged from the shadows in 2021, when the founding members – Graf von Beelzebub and A. Blackwar – announced they would be releasing their first new album in 16 years.
Inevitably becoming 2022’s self-titled effort, it was a solid return matching previous outputs of their earlier years. However, they have worked off the rust even further and almost a year later return with yet another studio album. Entitled Erzdämon, and released March 17, 2023 through FireFlash Records, the new release is no doubt a continuation of last year’s work, but honestly, more honed in. Nine songs in total, the melodic aspects are more pronounced, and as a result, the listening experience is that much more compelling.
Thick with atmosphere, the symphonic elements are present, but not overbearing. A key factor in making the album effective, together with overall song layouts that make you feel like you are transported back to Black Metal record from the early 2000s period, Erzdämon is a great listen. However, the album is not entirely engulfed in the past, because there are elements of progression here throughout as well. That said, some of the most striking moments include the title-track, “From Hell,” “The Mothman,” “Skinwalker,” and the mesmerizing closer “The Princess Of The Deadly Sins.”
In all, Erzdämon is a step in the right direction for the recently resurrected Mystic Circle. If you were not particularly interested in their first comeback record from 2022, you are urged to hear what they do with Erzdämon, because you might feel differently. This in mind, there is no question that some naysayers may have discredited Mystic Circle in the past, but that does not mean the band is not without intrigue or undeniable talent. In fact, they have shown flashes of greatness as heard on Infernal Satanic Verses, and Erzdämon should be included right next to it. A record for fans for Symphonic Black Metal who enjoy particular elements present without being oversaturated, Cryptic Rock gives Erzdämon 4.5 out of 5 stars.