Back in April of last year, when I premiered a track and then reviewed an excellent album from Mystras, I didn’t expect the project would be back so soon. However, such ended up being the case: Mystras, led by Ayloss of Spectral Lore, are back with an even more tight knit and razor-sharp version of their lo-fi black metal. Not only that, but they’re back with a sprawling, ambitious, and grandiose fourteen minute track titled “The Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem”, which we’re proud to be premiering here today. The track showcases that tighter focus I mentioned above, seeing Mystras bringing forward the folk-inspired guitar riffs that bubbled in the background of their last release, as well as expanding the sources of inspiration that they draw from for those riffs. The end result preserves their lo-fi edge and black metal intensity while making the backdrop on which it operates even richer. Head on down below to see for yourselves!

OK, maybe you’re reading this part as you listen, which is great; if so, I want you to focus as you listen, not on the main riff but on the backing guitar tracks. Some of them are constantly going off in the background, iterating on the folk inspired main theme of the track. There’s a heavy metal edge to their tone that works incredibly well, weaving sharp tapestries in the “back” of the mix. It dives in and out of the main riff, embellishing it when needed and using it as a springboard where possible, a foundation from which to explore further the initial ideas brought forth by the composition. Later down the track, this guitar part enjoys a spot in the center stage, as the folk theme is revisited by several incredibly moving and expansive string instruments, whirling around the central theme like so many dervishes in ecstatic dance.

Ayloss’ work with and inspiration from Mediterranean instruments and musical styles is well recorded (listen to Spectral Lore’s Gnosis please, I’m begging you) but here, it has been brought to a new level of integration with the black metal. The result is a further compounding of black metal’s penchant for sweeping melodies, turning “The Fall of the Kingdom of Jersualem” into the epic canvas needed for the telling of the Crusaders’ end and the echoes that end rang through time. Of course, we could go on: Ayloss’ fantastic, deep-seated vocals, the incredible bass, breakneck and precise drumming, and more, and more, and more.

With this track and, indeed, the forthcoming album Empires Vanquished and Dismantled, Mystras are further solidified as an important and robust project, on par with Spectral Lore rather than “just” a side project. For example, the album also includes guest vocals from blog favorite Nina Saeidi (Lowen) and opera singer Carling Chiu. It also includes compositions on the Turkish ney, violin and santoor contributions. All of this alongside, of course, all of the basic components that make a fantastic black metal release. Ayloss has pulled all the stops here to take Mystras to the next level and it has seriously paid off.

Stay tuned for more information and pre-order links from Stellar Auditorium and I, Voidhanger Records as we near the November 5th release of the album. It’s going to be one for the ages.

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