Mithras - Behind The Shadows Lie Madness
Progressive Death Metal
12 songs (44:28)
Release year: 2007
Mithras, Candlelight
Reviewed by Dylan
Ever wondered what it feels like to fly through time and space with a group of omniscient, gargantuan, and terrifying mythological beasts serving as your guides? I’m quite sure it would be an experience beyond verbal description, but if you ever wondered what such a journey would sound like, Mithras are here to enlighten you. As silly and over-the-top as my previous portrayal of the band’s sound may seem, it starts to make sense once this album begins to wash over you, for it has been quite a while since I’ve heard a death metal band give off such an enthralling atmosphere. Although their debut was released in 2002, and a quick follow up in Worlds Beyond the Veil dropped in 2003, Behind The Shadows Lie Madness is my first taste of what this band has to offer. Assuming that those releases were of the same caliber as this one, then I, along with every other open minded extreme metal head, has some catching up to do.

If you could somehow hook up Morbid Angel and / or Hate Eternal to a constant supply of LSD, they would have a good chance of creating something that would sound akin to Mithras. Multi-instrumentalist Leon Macy manages to lay down a very solid drum performance on this album, which some may consider an above average display of percussive power if they listened closely. I wouldn’t really know, because a huge portion of my attention is being spent focusing on what this man can do with his guitar. This is very melodic death metal, but not in the way that most would think. The very tired and familiar Gothenburg sound is nowhere to be found here, as this is a very progressive…”out-there” sort of style. I can’t really think of the correct adjective to describe it clearly, but it’s definitely something special. Under The Three Spheres is a fantastic example of this, as the intensity and heaviness of Blessed Are The Sick-era Morbid Angel is adorned in the infectious veil of a very sinister melodic theme. The gruff, yet intelligible vocals of Rayner Coss (who also handles the bass duties) are certainly fitting for the instrumental assault backing them up, but it seems as if he could have pushed himself a little harder as far as intensity goes. Had Glen Benton or Nergal done the vocals for this album, I would be praising this album to no end, but alas, that is not the case.

Speaking of intensity though, the production here is of a very high quality. Managing to still sound organic, each instrument seems like it is the size of a large city, which is important considering all the little nuances in these songs. Imagine if it was too muddy to make out the riff at :49 in thrown Upon The Waves, or too tinny to feel the lurchign power of Behind The Shadows. Once again, the guitar deserves special mention, for Lacey has been able to get a very unique tone out of it. Caked in effects, it ends up having a very wet, yet sharp sound to it, almost as if you dipped a huge broadsword in a lake and then used it to write some killer riffs. All visual comparisons aside, know that the sound Mithras ended up having on this album is very fitting for the kind of songs they write, and end up sounding very unique.

All gripes aside, this is a very high quality album. The songs usually hover somewhere around 4 minutes long, but I can tell that these guys intended to create a complete album experience, rather than a collection of songs that happen to be on the same disc like so many extreme bands seem to do from time to time. With four short keyboard interludes that are nothing short of tranquil, they serve as rest points throughout an album of blistering speed and heaviness. With that being the case, describing the songs individually seems kind of pointless, as each contributes to the overall feeling of the album, while simultaneously retaining enough individuality to remain memorable after they have passed. Still, I have yet to mention the best thing about this album: the fucking solos. Caked in effects, layered multiple times, echoing all over the place, these solos are the perfect representation of how beautiful and downright amazing metal solos can get. They need to be heard to be believed.

While it would be somewhat of a stretch to cal this the top death metal release of 2007 (right now Vital Remains, Behemoth, and Immolation are having a very bloody battle in my head for that honor), it may very well be the most refreshing and original piece of death metal that has graced my ears this year. It’s a well-balanced album that contains individually solid songs, but is much more solid as a whole piece. While the back catalogue of Mithras may or may not contain stronger material than this, I cannot say. What I can say with a strong amount of confidence is that they have managed to make death metal about as intersting and..."pretty" as it can get.
Killing Songs :
Dylan quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Mithras that we have reviewed:
Mithras - On Strange Loops reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Mithras - Time Never Lasts (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Mithras - Worlds Beyond the Veil reviewed by Thomas and quoted 92 / 100
Mithras - Forever Advancing... Legions reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
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