Formed in 1984 under the name Torment, Swedish metallers Mefisto is noted along with Obscurity, as being the first Swedish extreme bands to surge through the opening made by Bathory. It was a band which quickly drew a loyal local following, with the 1986 release of a pair of demos in Megalomania and The Puzzle finding keen reactions in the metal underground, which over time has grown to the band earning cult status. Within a year of their release though, they had succumbed to the pressure of finding no real support and called it a day. Now thirty years on from those early releases, the band unleashes debut album 18.104.22.168, a thrilling and fresh proposal which suggests that Mefisto had maybe been ahead of their time first time around.
In 2014 Mefisto was reformed by band originals, guitarist/vocalist Omar Ahmed and drummer Robban Granath, the pair joined by bassist Morgan Myhrberg last year. Their return was marked by The Megalomania Puzzle, a compilation bringing the early demos together in one rousing invitation released via, as the new album, Vic Records. Mastered by Dan Swano (Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath), 22.214.171.124 now gives the metal world something which has been eagerly anticipated for, in many ways decades, the first Mefisto full-length.
A gentle melodic caress brings album and opener Deathrace into view, though it is just a poetic coaxing into a subsequent sinister siren-esque mesh of fiery grooves and jabbing rhythms. That as quickly becomes a tempest of thrash kilned riffs and rapier like beats as vocals crowd ears with growling antagonism. Now in full flight, the track entwines a web of metal styles with craft and invention, the grouchily wiry bass alone captivating bait to get off on.
The strong start is merely an appetiser in many ways, the following Void swiftly a more thunderous and imposing protagonist for ears and appetite. With muscles on full show, the track swings with inescapable virulence; intimidating and enticing with spite and tenacity before throwing a delicious curve ball by slipping into a melody rich passage of progressive and classic metal enterprise. Across its length, the band continues to revolve between extremes of texture and the compelling mix of aggressive and calm invention; individual craft and united imagination blossoming with every thrilling twist and turn.
The barbarous Act Dead has the job of following the first pinnacle of the album, its bracing hostility and sonic endeavour making great success of keeping enlivened ears and emotions on a firm high. Sturdy and confrontational, the track provokes and invites with unruly resourcefulness but controlled ferocity, showing why in its earlier guise in the band’s career, it was a potent incitement.
Heads in the Sand twists and turns in another web of varied metallic provocation next. Thrash and death metal is twisted into the lining of melodic tendrils and searing grooves, they offering a catchiness which itself is aligned to a more progressive exploration. A slower persuasion than the immediacy of earlier tracks, it still blossoms by the minute into another highly pleasing adventure that only lingers in the psyche.
The almost theatrical drama of Frost of Inferno involves ears and thoughts straight after, its raw and brutish canvas the landscape for a kaleidoscope of melodic expression and enterprise shared by the open skills and creative devilry of Ahmed. It is a song which enjoyably has one foot in the past and the now, whilst successor Hate Consumes Me with the same flirtatious drama to its body and narrative, is a cauldron of modern rock ‘n’ roll. Predatory in its calm and incendiary in its sonic boldness whilst being primal in energy, the track fuses death and heavy metal with essences of broader heavy rock, resulting in another major highlight.
A touch of classical guitar stirs The Puzzle into tempestuous life, which in turn breeds a constantly evolving stalking and ravaging of the senses which is very easy to get greedy over. Compelling as it invades and seduces with rousing persistence, it is eclipsed by the album’s closing title track. It too has a predatory air and nature to its melodic tempting and progressively nurtured adventure with the vocals emulating their character as Ahmed’s string craft bewitches.
It is a superb end to a thoroughly enjoyable and increasingly impressive debut album. It seems strange saying that Mefisto has a rich future ahead of them after thirty years or so since their first steps, but 126.96.36.199 suggests this is just the beginning of bigger and bolder things.
188.8.131.52 is out now via Vic Records through most online stores.
Pete RingMaster 23/02/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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