Mist is an upstart new act hailing from tiny Slovenia and featuring a lineup consisting of 4 women and one man. Together they tread the well-worn path of traditional doom metal while incorporating touches of 60s psychedelia and what has come to be known as occult doom. Free Me of the Sun is their debut outing and in preparation they’ve plumed the usual depths of Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Trouble to bring you the downcast goods. To their credit they do a decent job mixing and matching traditional sounds and approaches, all of which we’ve heard before, into something that doesn’t sound too heavily recycled or formulaic. This is doom for the doom purist, providing everything you’d expect, and absolutely nothing approaching innovation or experimentation. Sometimes that’s just fine and dandy, but is it that the case here or is this lost in the fog of genre saturation?
What I find most interesting about Free Me of the Sun is the relative shortness of the songs. All run between 3 and 5 minutes, with only one approaching the 6-minute threshold. This is refreshing in a sea of mammoth doom overwriting where trveness seems increasingly dependent on excessive song lengths. Short and sweet is the way Mist wants to doominate, and opener “The Ghoul” reeks of Pentagram worship and rotting flesh as the simple, forceful doom riffs are accented nicely by the powerful voice of Nina Spruk. She sounds like a mixture of Dorthia Cottrell (Windhand) and Jennie Ann-Smith (Avatarium) and she puts quite a powerful stamp on the material, though the song itself is somewhat average. Better material follows, with “Ora Pro Nobis” taking a more emotional and interesting approach with aggressive riffage, fat grooves and vocals that grab and paw at you urgently. “December” drills even deeper into mood music while taking a darker turn buoyed by understated guitar and a killer atmosphere. The introspective title track slowly smolders before breaking into a very Sabbath-y doom ballad of sorts, which allows Nina to stretch her pipes a bit. It’s the song I find myself returning to most and it reminds me of something off Dorthia Cottrell’s excellent solo album.
Despite these good moments, things get more pedestrian on the album’s back-half. Tracks like “Altar of You” simply does not register no matter how many times I spin it, and “Disembody Me” though better, borrows the riffs from the doom classic standard “Black Sabbath” so shamelessly, that I find it too distracting to enjoy. The biggest issue is the tendency of their songs to lapse into a kind of dull flatness that makes me zone out despite their song’s relatively short run times.. Call it rookie writing or what have you, but they need to shore up their writing without a doubt.
I’m quite impressed with Ms. Spruk as a vocalist. She has power and poise and a certain sultry power that drives the music well. She possesses enough versatility to pull off slower, softer material like the title track but can still blow the doors off on songs like “White Torch.” Her vocal gifts are well paired with the skills of lead guitarist Blaž Tanšek and rhythm guitarist Ema Babošek. Though there is a noticeable shortage of big, molar-rattling doom riffs, the pair are adept at crafting both emotional leads and up-tempo rockers and the solo-work is quite captivating and trippy.
Mist is a band that wears their potential on their sleeve and even a cursory spin lets you know they have chops. However, the songcraft isn’t quite there yet and Free Me of the Sun lacks the consistency necessary to take them to the next level. When they nail it, you’ll be engaged, and even when they miss, they don’t whiff completely. That’s the sign of a young band worth keeping an eye on. This is dangerously close to a solid debut and there’s definitely some worthwhile material here for the average doom fancier. I recommend taking a cautious flyer on them.