Mystifier was a classic Brazilian black metal band formed in 1989. Like their forefathers Sarcofago, Holocausto and other South American black/deathrashing maniacs they played violent aggressive unkempt music at breakneck speeds. However, they were more clearly aligned with black metal as the genre was developing beyond its thrashing ancestors. They also bore some resemblance to Canadian black/death metal gods Blasphemy, although they were not likely directly influenced by them. In their early demo/EP stage, Mystifier had heaps of juvenile aggression and sloppy musicianship, but displayed thoughtful song writing nevertheless. Their style would develop considerably in the three years after their inception, leading to their monolithic debut, 1992's "Wicca". Their strong focus on occult themes, eerie dark aesthetic and hellish demonic thrashing style were best executed here, although they would go on to release another great album the following year.
The production of Wicca is an improvement on their filthy demo stage material, and a slight step up from their 1990 EP "The Evil Ascension Returns". While it's nowhere near pristine, it allows each instrument to come through with clairty, and at the same time accentuates the raw and filthy elements of their sound. Their sound is bass-heavy, with the rhythm guitar buzzing on the sidelines. This is most apparent in the slower doomier sections, where the bass delivers mean bludgeoning chords, but rather than having heaps of ugly fuzz uses a thick cleaner tone. Along with the somewhat thin guitar, they have an overall more sparse cleanly played sound. However, in the speedy thrashing sections (which make up a good deal of the album) the sound is considerably more chaotic. While still more precise than some of their countrymates, they're not above filthy breakneck thrashing, and actually excel at it (so have yer neck brace ready for the spinal injury that'll surely ensue). They deliver a great deal of blast-driven insanity fueled by a sub end torrent of riffs (which draws the comparison to the mighty Blasphemy). They also lay on some alternate picked high notes over the speedy rhythms, sounding somewhat like an amped up angrier Von. The drums are clean, precise, dull and bassy. At times their precision is almost machine-like, but rest assured it's not overly mechanical and most certainly not an actual drum machine. The double kick has a slightly annoying triggered sound, but thankfully it's used sparingly. The drummer spends most of his time furiously blasting, which lends to the music's constant hypnotic flowing sound. The vocals are mostly growls and rasps, falling somewhere in between the standard harsh delivery of 80s Brazilian death/thrashers and the ritualistic psychotic grumblings of Blasphemy. Unfortunately for some, they frequently throw on a demonic-sounding voice changer, but it's not overbearingly cheesy and in some ways contributes to their strange occult sound. The overall ordered cleanliness (co-existing with violent thrashing) of Mystifier's sound creates an aesthetic of austerity that is very unique and alluring. A few minor disappointments on the album include the goofy almost Cradle of Filth-like intro and some unnecessarily cheesy (and thankfully rarely used) synths. Regardless, this album delivers on all fronts and is not only worth many repeated listens but stands high in the ranks of cult old school black metal.
"Wicca" stands as the crowning achievement of the legendary Mystifier, culminating the sound laid out in their early material into a fluid concise effort. While they would reach similar heights with 1993's "Goetia", their debut stands as their most realized and best executed effort. Unfortunately their quality began to sink rapidly by their third album, but two great albums and some excellent demo/EP material is more than enough to feast your ears upon. Fans of classic black metal such as Sarcafago, Blasphemy and Von (all mentioned above) should surely have some interest in Mystifier. Furthermore, any curious black metal fan should give them a try and perhaps familiarize themselves with the ugly violent style of olde. There are a great deal of pre-second wave classic bands that are frequently overlooked, and Mystifier certainly fits that description. However, there are always maniacs who hunt down such relics, and thankfully labels like Nuclear War Now! (who released an incredible 7LP Mystifier retrospective titled "Baphometic Goat Worship") continue to give homage to true underground classics. Old school black metal freaks rejoice in the glory of Mystifier!