Dark Material

Finland Country of Origin: Finland

Dark Material
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Type: EP
Release Date: 1996
Label: Ktok Records
Genre: Black, Death
1. We Can Only Get Stronger
2. I Growl In Victory
3. Hellreality
4. Life Deceives

Review by Carl on January 8, 2024.

My first run in with these ruffians was their "Pain Amplifier" full length, a high-octane blast of death and black metal that attacked first and asked questions later. It was a strong effort for sure, combining early Impaled Nazarene vibes with aggressive death metal in the vein of the early works of Carcass and Deicide, it was a blast for sure. When I read about a follow up mini album being in the works, containing a more refined version of their style, I considered it a kind of bummer to hear. I took quite a while to get to it, and I'm not going to bullshit you about it, I liked their previous work better.

But don't misunderstand me please, this is not bad in any way. It's just as I read about it, being more refined in style and execution. There's quite a bit more of guitar noodling involved, slightly reminding me of early Amorphis here and there, there's some touches of keyboard ambience present in places, and some of the riffs have become more open, almost melodic even, with the names of acts such as Unanimated and even mid 90's Death crossing my mind as well. It's all executed well above average, and the compositions themselves are well thought out, making good use of variation between slow and fast sections, as well as combining more melodically inclined parts with the harsher ones. It must be noted that the few times that Mythos does fly off the handle, they still kill it, but the raging insanity that was so present on their previous release, has definitely gone the way of the dinosaurs, disappearing forever, and I can't help but really mourn its passing.

And although I lament the band's parting with their former brutality and demented power, I still have enough of a musical ear to establish that this isn't a bad effort. As mentioned above, they've got their shit together pretty well, both in execution and in compositions, and the combination of kinda melodic death metal and black metal works very well. Even the production is pretty spot-on, cleaner than before but still exuding the necessary power to make it all come popping out convincingly, making for a neat package of above decent death metal. It might not be my cup of tea entirely, but I can get behind it, which I can't really say that about the vocals, unfortunately. Vocalist Mikko has traded in his former demonic growl for a forced sounding gruff death grunt, but does not manage to really pull it off. It's a tad of an ill fit with what's on offer, being just too blunt for the music that sounds more refined and subtler than before, making for an odd combination throughout.

So yeah, this is a difficult one for me. Musically, this is no bad effort at all, but too musical for me, especially when compared to what came before. Combine this with the rough vocal approach that is just too gruff for the style, and I'm left with a pretty iffy package. But then again, if the man would have had a voice as smooth as butter, I'd still be missing their old insanity all the same.

Rating: 7 out of 10