The Mists From the Mountains – Monumental – The Temple of Twilight Review

Every year, at around this time, my city hosts a hot chocolate festival. For a few weeks, hundreds of different forms of hot chocolate are available throughout the city. This year, I made it my mission to try as many as possible. Broadly speaking, the hot chocolate can be divided into two categories: those sticking with tried and tested formulas, but trying to perfect them; and those trying something completely new (the most original still has to be sea-urchin flavored, with squid-ink foam). Having worked my way through a fair chunk of the options, I can tell you that neither approach is necessarily better, but that I have a lot more patience, and give more leeway to, those being original. Which brings us to Monumental – The Temple of Twilight, the debut album from Finnish black-metallers, The Mist From the Mountains. Featuring veterans from the Finnish scene, it promises to give your icy insides a sugar-flavored kick. But where on the spectrum is this one falling?

If raw black metal, like Old Nick or Black Cilice, is 99% chocolate dissolved in disquietingly malodorous milk, then Monumental – The Temple of Twilight is 45% milk chocolate in milky milk, with neither too much, nor too little, sugar. And nothing else. This is the basic recipe, almost unaltered and unadorned. You’ve had this a hundred times before and the mileage you get from this collection will entirely depend on how fond you are of this stuff. Sticking so closely to pre-existing templates is risky: it means that the music had better be stellar, and in this case, The Mist From the Mountains is only partially successful.

The first thought that came to mind on listening to Monumental – The Temple of Twilight was “slick.” This is an efficient, relatively bloat-free album that hits all the beats of very enjoyable black metal. The riffs are catchy, the songs progress in a logical way, and at 37 minutes, it never threatens to overstay its welcome. When proceedings slow down, or synths are introduced, or clean vocals enter the fray, it all sounds logical and appropriate. There is a sense of clear momentum in songs like “A Paean to Fire” and “Master of Wilderness” which should get even the most of arthritic of necks bobbing. The Mist From the Mountains know how to make entertaining black metal, and the album is never dull.

The downside is that it’s all so sleek and efficient and grime-free that there is very little personality. Much like adding (gasp!) mint, or (perish the thought!) caramel, to a warm drink, The Mist From the Mountains take very few risks, and stick to tried-and-tested formulas that they know are crowd-pleasers. But, if you listen to a lot of black metal, you’ll find yourself yearning for them to do something to really stamp their personality on their music. Even when the band stops the fury, it’s to do things you’ve heard before, in a manner you’re familiar with. Like the introduction of female vocals in “Thus Spake the Tongueless Serpent” (a la Diadem of 12 Stars) or the folksy acoustics of “With the Sun and the Skies and the Birds Above” (a la every pagan metal album ever). There’s a clear, well-thumbed recipe here, and The Mist From the Mountains are sticking rigidly to it.

The Mist From the Mountains have created a very slick, very professional atmospheric black metal album. A hot chocolate with promise. It has the ingredients. It’s correctly mixed. It’s tasty. But it ultimately feels hollow and transient. While everything works, and there are few obvious weak spots, it’s also so formulaic and personality-less that remembering it after it has ended is quite difficult. And when you’re consuming a lot, you place a premium on memorability. If you’re looking for a quick ‘n’ easy stomach-filler, The Mist From the Mountains have got you covered. But if you’re looking for a mind-bending gustatory experience, this is unlikely to satisfy.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Primitive Reaction
Releases Worldwide: January 28th, 2022

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