Artist: Armoured Angel
Album Title: Mysterium
This is the second CD from Armoured Angel, an Australian band playing mid-paced melodic death metal. Released in 1994, it was the final release from the band's original lineup.
Armoured Angel's style combines death metal rhythm guitar with heavy metal leads and varied, gruff vocals. The atmosphere on this record is a a bit like mid-period Bolt Thrower, only with a more melodic edge. Solemn, crushing songs are this band's hallmark. The sound on Mysterium is dominated by the low-end: there's lots of bass, the guitars are tuned low, with plenty of crunch, and the searing vocals add even more depth. The drums are kept far back in the mix, but they're still perfectly audible.
The first few seconds of "Myth of Creation" are a tremendous lead-in to the album... the angry, exultant feeling on this track is irresistible! The main riff has a rolling sound to it, and the vocals follow much the same rhythm. Some expansive lead guitar parts add a bit of variety.
"Heir to Evil" speeds things up a bit, with nimble riffing and a rousing chorus. There's a slower break in the middle, with some atmospheric guitar and bass work. The vocal timing on this song is excellent.
The vocals on "Enigmatise" are insanely great -- varied, threatening, and vicious, yet perfectly understandable. The guitar work is equally fine, with plenty of cutting riffs. There's a nice, complex bass line during the breakdown on this song, as well. To me, this is the quintessential Armoured Angel tune.
"Carved in Sin" starts off with an explosive riff, and then settles into an unrelenting rhythm. Between the speedy main theme and the heavy slowdown, it's hard to resist a little headbanging...
"Pray for Me" is the most atmospheric song on the album, with mid-paced, heavy progression drenched in caustic rhythm guitar. The sound here is so damn bleak! The pummeling drums deserve special mention.
"Elegy" is an instrumental piece that finishes out the album. The lead guitar work on this song has tons of feeling!
Armoured Angel's first lineup was never as well-known as they ought to have been, despite their original and punishing sound. It's a shame, because this EP is a stellar example of old-school death metal. If you can find this, or any of the band's other releases, pick it up without hesitation! Armoured Angel is among the forgotten jewels of Aussie metal. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Enigmatise", "Pray for Me"