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Review

Celestial Season – Mysterium I Review

Band: Celestial Season
Album: Mysterium I
Label: Burning World Records
Genre: Gothic doom/Death doom
Country: Netherlands
Release Date: April 25th, 2022
For Fans Of: My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Anathema

If you enjoy gothic/death doom, you’re surely familiar with the “Peaceville Three”. Consisting of Paradise Lost, Anathema, and My Dying Bride, these three British bands defined the sound of gothic death doom with landmark releases in the early 90s, propelling them to massive success. What you may not know is that other bands playing a similar style operated at the same time, who never saw the success of the Peaceville Three. One such example is Dutch band Celestial Season.

Formed in 1991, their debut Forever Scarlet Passion was released in 1993, the same year as multiple landmark releases from the Peaceville Three. Celestial Season was stylistically in line with the newly blossoming death doom style, but they would quickly abandon the sound. They added more stoner elements on 1995’s Solar Lovers and by 1997 they were playing full-fledged Kyuss worship. They put out a few stoner albums before breaking up in 2001, but two years ago a mix of the Forever Scarlet Passion and the Solar Lovers line-ups revived Celestial Season. Their newest record Mysterium I is planned to be the start of a trilogy with this regrouped “Doom Era” lineup.

Celestial Season put their best foot forward with opening track and single “Black Water Mirrors”. The song starts with violin and cello orchestration to accompany the slow, plodding riffs before transitioning into a gothic lead for the chorus. The blend of atmosphere, riffs, and gruff vocals on the opening track are Celestial Season at their best. Subsequently, “The Golden Light Of Late Day” is downtrodden with an especially mournful guitar melody, before “Sundown Transcends Us” reverts to an uptempo gothic sound straight off Paradise Lost‘s best works. Later in the record we hear a style reminiscent of mid-era Paradise Lost and even Martyre-era Saturnus, while the final track “Mysterium” has a groovy riff that teases their stoner style from afore.

Stylistically, Celestial Season fit nicely into the pantheon of death doom, but at times they don’t do enough to differentiate themselves from the pack. Their sound is more sanguine than My Dying Bride, but not as expressive as Saturnus, not as dark as Paradise Lost, but also not as harsh as early Anathema. They can have a bit of a Draconian vibe on the tracks with the violin parts, and the gruff, throaty vocals have a unique timbre that fits both heavy and light sections.

Seeing a pioneering band return to their old style isn’t entirely new. Look at Paradise Lost, whose 2020 album Obsidian was one of the best in their entire discography. Celestial Season have created in Mysterium I what amounts to a good- but not great- album. With their stand-out single placed right at the beginning, the record feels like it crawls to the finish line. Their songwriting is passable, but it just doesn’t offer enough to put Celestial Season on the same level as their legendary contemporaries. While Mysterium I may not have anything earth-shattering to offer, it’s still an enjoyable listen for sadbois like myself who adore the style. It’s worth checking this out if you like your doom gothic.

Rating: 6/10

Tracklist:

  1. Black Water Mirrors
  2. The Golden Light Of Late Day
  3. Sundown Transcends Us
  4. This Glorious Summer
  5. Endgame
  6. All That Is Known
  7. Mysterium

Total Playing Time: 43:20

Click here to visit Celestial Season’s Bandcamp.

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