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Celestial Season – Mysterium II

celestial season – mysterium ii


Hot on the heels (literally) of the rather riveting ‘Mysterium I’ comes ‘Mysterium II,’ the rather surprise bonus album that Netherlands’ Death Doom group Celestial Season decided to self release just 8 months after part I. It might seem like a bit of a rush, but the result is surprisingly good. While not a complete opposite of what they did before, the music here on ‘II’ is a lot more dramatic, bombastic, and more My Dying Bride influenced than anything. The cellos and piano parts (which were sparse on ‘I’) dominate a lot of the music such as on a track like ‘In April Darkness’ which takes a lot of patterned notes from ‘Turn Loose the Swans,’ but with a cleaner sound, so fans of that era of Doom are going to find it very appealing. Original vocalist Stefan Ruiters showcases a lot more cleans, and even his harsh vocals are more whispered and less rough, so in a way, this does make ‘Mysterium II’ almost the ‘Omega White’ to their ‘Alpha Noir.’ There are also more prog based elements here too such as the sax presence on ‘The Divine Duty of Servants’ which give almost more of an Ihsahn feel to the music, minus the familiar Black Metal riffs. But here even with the Doom laden riffs, one can tell that the song structure is more almost Melodic Death Doom, despite the repeition, and will appeal to the likes of fans of Swallow the Sun, even though the vocals are not as monstrous.

Celestial Season do soften things up a quite a bit with their instrumental ‘Our Nocturnal Love’ which is about as ‘bleeding heart’ Gothic Doom as one can get. Morose and piano heavy, this track is certainly a beautiful example of more symphonic doom, but might come off as a bit too cheesy and cinematic for most fans of the genre who prefer a bit more of the guitar and growl heavy Doom. The slower thumps from drummer Jason Kohnen are still right for the pace of the music, though a little less Funeral Doom thundering. Thankfully, the band showcases plenty of that, especially on ‘The Sun the Moon and the Truth’ with the layered echoing snarls and growls on top of the drumming. It is a definitely a strong example of Celestial Seasons’ testament to their past and present, and the Stoner Doom influences of their mid era are pretty much done, so maybe compared to ‘Part I’ that was like a last farewell to their mid era before their 20 year silence and now this new part is their solid affirmation that Death Doom is the direction they are definitely headed in without looking back. The dual guitar and bass work from Lucas Van Slegtenhorst, Olly Smit, and Pim Van Zanen is a bit more prominent without the symphonics backing it and help sets the foundation for the music alongside the vocals. However, one has to admit they miss the violin and cello- provided by Jiska ter Bals and Elianne Anemaat- as they help round out the sound on a lot of tracks, still touching on that Gothic Doom level.

The band does do a cover of Cathedral’s ‘Pictures of Endless Beauty…’ which is a bit of a medley between 2 tracks from the now defunct Doom band. Compared the original which has that distorted Paradise Lost sound, Celestial Season definitely clean it up with their cello and violin addition and really pile on the Gothic Doom level, but it is a fitting and wonderful tribute to Cathedral while maintaining the core sound structure of the original. The layered spoken word vocals on top of the guitars are fitting and a bit more lively/drawing than how the original was done so the modern touches are welcome. Overall, ‘Mysterium II’ sounds almost better than ‘Mysterium I,’ despite it having the typical convention of the Death Doom genre, especially with the longer tracks and more gothic tones. However, they are done well and not overdone to too much dramatic effect. For those looking for more of the guitar driven Death Doom, ‘Part I’ might be more appealing, but those who like the more melodramatic symphonic side of the genre will really enjoy ‘Part II’ much more. Either way, this dual sort of album goes to show that the Death Doom side of Celestial Season is here to say, and unfortunately the Stoner Doom side is gone and buried. Or is it? Perhaps and unknown ‘Part III’ might surprise us…