Mist of Misery - Shackles of Life 01Such is the dearth of my trveness, humility, and years, I’ve recently realized that I tend towards double-adjective metal. That is, types of metal with an additional adjective in their genre tag. Progressive death metal? Check. Post black metal? For sure. Symphonic power metal? Come at me. I could therefore scarcely avoid swiping at the tantalizing fruits surely offered by the three adjectives in the “depressive symphonic black metal” labeled on our promo sheet. Shackles of Life is an EP by Sweden’s Mist of Misery, following 2016’s sophomore full-length called Absence. If such titles didn’t immediately clarify this point, isolation and misery appear to be the name of the game.

So we know upon entry it’s symphonic. Strings, choirs, and keyboards feature prominently as is typical for such metal. At no point was I impressed or even surprised by their integration as they’re largely consigned to atmospheric introductions, interludes or backing tracks. There is no attempt made for Dimmu Borgirian grandiosity but neither are they subtle enough to prove smart counter-points to the remainder of the sound. Speaking of, that depressive tag born so evocatively by such bands as Shining is the thematic focus. The atmospheric interludes strive for this most evidently with their simplistic melodies but they’re largely emotionally ineffective, more like Kvarforth on an ambivalent sort of day. The black metal occupies the final part of Mist of Misery‘s sound. Such tremolo-picked riffs and blast beats are structurally predictable and distinctly lacking any real sense of danger or depression. It’s not particularly terrible but it’s as bland as any black metal you may encounter on your daily trawl of the fourteenth page of metal releases on Bandcamp.

Despite the blackened banality, there’s an odd mix of the old and new when it comes to the production. The mix is light on bass as was popular among the Norwegian kids of the early 90s, but the guitars bear a reasonably modern tone. It’s not unpleasant but I’d rather they committed one way or the other. The dynamic range is similarly mixed. A score of eleven obfuscates a seven for the heavy tracks and up to fourteen for the lighter ones. This sounds positive but fidelity is undermined by the mix being particularly busy when the black metal and symphonics are going together. The latter elements become submerged which at least prevents their overt dominance over the metal but when the metal is already bland I’d rather the symphonics were more evident.

Mist of Misery - Shackles of Life 02

There are pleasing moments but they’re transient. The introduction to “Dagon” is easily the EP’s highlight with Agalloch-influenced chords and strumming followed by a groovy riff of which Dissection would be proud. It’s powerful stuff but quickly returns to generic, uneventful blasting beyond 0:50. The chilling ambiance on the interlude of “Placid Drowning” is the emotive extremity of Shackles too, offering the most melancholic breather. Nonetheless, the similar style utilized on “A Dreamless Void” has the opposite effect, ending closer to Bryan Adams-level sappiness than suicidal hopelessness. Furthermore, the concluding piano pieces on “Opening Chapter to a Solitary Confinement” and “Closing Chapter” offer a weak finale which is dishearteningly similar to “A Dreamless Void” in style and limp in impact.

For each small advantage on Shackles, there’s a corresponding disadvantage while the remainder is tired and uninspiring. It’s far from awful but is simply forgettable and I cannot recommend a reason to listen even once, let alone buy for repeated listens. The genre adjectives are indeed all checked off but metal should be a passionate and emotive experience, not a box-checking exercise. The sheet has disappointed me.


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps MP3
Label: Black Lion Records
Websites: facebook.com/mistofmisery
Releases worldwide: August 31st, 2017

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    That guy on the left looks like he’s going around knocking on doors and asking people if they have a moment to talk about Satan, our lord and savior…

    • Master of Muppets

      Well, do you?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Last time I said yes it took me a while to remove the black candle wax and pig’s blood off the carpet… So, no.

        • sir_c

          You shouldn’t go full retard on a first date

    • Monsterth Goatom
      • jjohn

        man this kid is so going to hell :P

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Is that how he managed to recruit the other two guys?

      • sir_c

        well, the story isn’t that black/white

    • Mollusc

      I’m pretty sure he’s signing something rude…

  • Malhorne

    Bland..

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    Whenever I see hoodies and corpse paint, I think of The Warriors, and my ability to seriously consider the band goes out the window. If you’re going to look like a gang from a b-movie, you should at least look like one that might make it back unscathed to your own borough at the end of the film.

  • Me

    Best band picure EVER! LOLOLLLLL.

    • Nag Dammit

      There’s a clear divide between the depressive and symphonic factions in the band isn’t there.

      Plus, why has the guy on the left tried to make himself look like a panda?

      • Me

        I like the guy in the middle. He has this “what the Hel am I doing here” look.

  • Dammage

    Rare photo of the band listening to their own music

  • Choodi

    Wow, that photo is a bit awkward.

  • sir_c

    Dave Mustaine… is that you??

  • Eli Valcik

    That is the least convincing black metal band photo I’ve even seen.

  • Everybody who is making fun of this photo should check out the band Trollech from Czech Republic, especially “Ve stinu starych dubu”. You will thank me later.

    • Looks like one of those black metal parodies on YouTube.

  • Wilhelm

    Is the guy on the left making some esoteric occult sign, or is he stating that he has a vagina?

    • Felchmeister777

      I think just the photo in itself pretty much confirms the latter…

  • JL

    Bad review, this is easily a 3. Lol seriously, I love the stuff you guys cover but I think in my three or so years reading this site I’ve agreed with you like once.

    • Diego Molero

      The fact that you think that this is a “easily a 3” doesn’t make this a bad review.

    • Felchmeister777

      So, you take issue with the fact you think the album is mediocre rather than bad…?

      Okaaaay…

  • After a great album last year, I was a bit disappointed by this EP at first. The blissful acoustic and symphonic components are good, but very dominant, and the soundscape has an exaggerated clang to it.

    The songs Broken Chains and Dagon is very good, though. And as the entirety grew on me, I ended up acquiring a taste for it and placing it in the upper-range of the enjoyment spectrum, albeit not very far from the mediocre middle area.

  • Sjwsrapechildren

    Wow.the cover.its absolutely timely. Let me explain..the cover is depicting what every snowflake sjw goes through on a regular basis,haunted and tormented by ghosts and demons.that aren’t real.its all in their heads. Now if only this music were powerful enough to make all the snowflake sjw’s kill themselves but no the music is as weak as all the snowflake sjw’s are. So let’s just kill all the snowflake sjw’s ourselves and fix the world together! Together we can make a difference and end the snowflake sjw fascism!!!!

  • Brian Hudson

    I thought this was a very good album, but maybe that’s because I’m a little biased (I’m gravitating more and more towards atmospheric black metal).