Slægt - Domus MysteriumIt’s always cool to be introduced to new bands, and watch their progress as their skill set broadens and confidence levels increase with each release. Case in point, Danish black metallers Slægt came out of nowhere last year and impressed the hell out of me with their 4-song EP, Beautiful and Damned. Mixing Dissection‘s classically-inspired black metal with heaps of early Dark Tranquillity goodness, Beautiful and Damned left me wanting more. Just over a year later, they return with their second full-length album, Domus Mysterium. With their line-up from Beautiful and Damned fully intact, can Asrok and company capitalize on the abilities that their EP hinted at?

The short answer is a slightly cautious “yes.” First off, their knack of channeling the late Jon Nödveidt remains intact, as amazing flourishes of classical guitar pepper Domus Mysterium without being overused. Opening instrumental “Succumb” and “Burning Feathers” would have felt right at home on Storm of the Light’s Bane, with the latter instrumental giving a somber reprieve from the traditional metal-inspired riff-fest of the rest of the album. Likewise, the twin guitar melodies of Asrok and Anders M. Jørgensen continue to improve and inspire, with the solos on “I Smell Blood” and “The Tower” being key examples of the duo’s growth and talent.

So what’s the hold-up, you may ask yourselves? For as ambitious as the band is and continues to be, the songs themselves could use a bit of editing. “I Smell Blood” could be shortened a good minute or two to increase its impact. Elsewhere, “The Eye of the Devil” starts off beautifully, sounding like Iron Maiden getting lost in Gothenburg, but drags a bit towards the end. This wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t a seven-minute instrumental.1 The closing title track clocks in at a whopping thirteen minutes, and about three-quarters of the song works. I admire the band’s ambition to tackle a song of that length, but their songwriting isn’t quite there yet.

Slægt 2017
The other bone of contention I have is with the production. The good news is Olle Bergholz’s bass sounds warm and full, and Ccsquele’s powerful drumming feels organic and driving. The big problem lies in the guitars, or rather how they’re recorded. I’m sure many of you have seen the video on YouTube where a guitar player demonstrates that black metal is just surf music with heavy distortion. Well, I kept thinking of that video during the entirety of Domus Mysterium. The guitars barely possess any distortion, which isn’t a major concern usually, but when they start tremolo-picking (I’m looking at you, “Remember It’s a Nightmare” and “Egovore”), I don’t know whether to headbang or grab a surfboard. It goes from not being a big deal to turning into a major distraction, and that knocks the overall enjoyment down a peg.

But let me stress that there isn’t anything truly bad on Domus Mysterium. Rather, it feels like Slægt aimed a little too high, and too early. I believe they’ll get there in an album or two, but I also believe Beautiful and Damned was a little more successful in hitting the mark. This is still on target, but not as close to the bullseye. Still, they continue to impress. Maybe the next one will hit it dead-on.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Ván Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 5th, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. And yes, this makes three instrumentals on an eight-song album.
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  • Why the hell didn’t they use some of all that awesome artwork in the video for the album cover?

    I like this stuff a little. Musically, at least.

    • Frost15

      I like this too. Took me by surprise since I had not heard about these guys…

      • IBlackened

        Tribulation playing Metallica. I was almost expecting ‘Whiplash’ after that intro.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          The intro reminded me of “The Power Of Thy Sword” by Manowar!

          • IBlackened

            Definitely. The first bar is almost identical.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Even the triangle hits reminded me of the sword sounds… This got me into a major Manowar binge, that’s low easily I’m triggered.

    • Eli Valcik

      Yeah! LIke what the fuck! That artwork was really cool and they went with a logo!

      • Not only this, but isn’t that logo also a bit dubious?

        • h_f_m

          I was wondering that as well, made me want to hunt down lyrics before I sold myself on the album. Couldn’t find any.

          EDIT: nevermind they’re right on the bandcamp page I just missed the link that appears..

          • Seems safe indeed. I just wonder why you would put such a crypto-swastika on your cover. If it’s not fascism, it’s just edgy playing with actual evil.

          • h_f_m

            Right. Even their first album cover kind of looks like.. well could I wrap this or shift it around and create a swastika out of it? It’s a little bizarre.

          • Grymm

            I was wondering that myself.

            This is a major logo design fail, if there ever was one. Nothing lyrically tipped me off as being dubious, though.

            Still, I think they should nix this logo ASAP.

          • I sent them a message to ask what’s up with it. I hope they respond with something coherent.

          • GWW

            Crypto-swastika!? Fascism?! WTF!?

    • Stuart Leeds

      The artwork is on the inside of the gate-fold!

  • EnslavedEld73

    Sold! These guys are fun. Definitely have their own vibe. I like the lack of saturated distortion, leaves the guitarist with nothing to hide behind and showcases his skill and attitude more effectively.

  • Stuart Leeds

    Cool. I ordered the white vinyl version earlier today. I was really impressed with their EP’ Beautiful and Damned.

  • Dobbie03

    I literally have just purchased this album, then wandered over to AMG hoping for a review.

    Pleasantly surprised.

    • Stuart Leeds

      Pretty much the same here. I usually read AMGs review first… need this time!

  • Francesco Bordoni

    Yeeeah, nice review, I couldn’t wait to hear new stuff from these guys! The EP was a blast: solid, creative and catchy as hell! I still sing it to myself from time to time… YES WE ARE BEAUTIFUUUUL – AND DAMNED!

    • Feytalist

      Just listened to that EP actually. Yeah man, it’s damn good. It’s convinced me to try the rest of their stuff. Didn’t expect to like it but I totally did.

      • Francesco Bordoni

        Man, that EP is just fun times!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Iron Maiden getting lost in Gothenburg? How could that be possible if they drew the blueprints?

  • Tofu muncher

    They don’t look healthy.

    • [not a Dr]

      I don’t think Thatguy’s BPA disagrees, but health wouln’t be the focus of his analysis.

      • Thatguy

        I’m back.

        And they don’t look healthy, but it’s the skinny bare chest that makes the valves of the machine flicker…I don’t hate this music but I think the machine and I agree with the review – not quite there yet. Zip up and keep practicing.

  • Bas

    I like the embedded track. The review sounds promissing. I’ll check it out.

    By the way Grymm. I finally understand your praise of the last Vainaja album (a bit late I known). It just got a hifi mp3/FLAC player and listened to the HDR master of album on it while biking to work… amazing.. I never heard the atmosphere they created with the music before !!!

    • Grymm

      One of the best slabs of doom/death I have ever heard!

  • Westpaceagle

    I like this, even if it is basically Children of the Night 2.0. The long version

  • Stuart Leeds

    Okay. I received this from NB Germany today! I’m playing it now as I write – much to my wife’s disappointment….lol…even through my headphones she can still hear it! However, I have to say this album is ACE! Beautifully packaged too. An odd question though, how come Slaegt aren’t available from NB UK? Each site lists most of the same bands….is it a signing thing or distribution?

  • h_f_m

    That’s awesome, thanks for that!