Howling out of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Mist are a five-piece doom outfit whose debut full length on Soulseller Records, Free Me of the Sun, has a decidedly retro style wrapped up in a tight and clean production. Perhaps it’s also worth making special mention of the fact that four of five members of Mist are female, if only for the sheer rarity of such arrangements. And props are due to these dames of darkness (and Blaž Tanšek, the band’s lone male member), as Free Me of the Sun is joyride of sorrow and sorcery!
Mist’s sound is a smooth combination of the narcotic-soaked downer buzz of Saint Vitus and the loftier melodicism of Candlemass, without sounding like a total ripoff of either band. That being said, pure doom is a genre with limitations, and Free Me of the Sun wanders a bit too far into familiar territory on occasion (“Disembody Me” reuses the original Sabbath doom riff from their 1970 eponymous song, although, who hasn’t jacked a Sabbath riff once or twice?).
But all told, Free Me of the Sun is a high-quality riff fest that’ll have you nodding your head at just about any given moment, especially when the core of “Altars of You” is one of those riffs you’d use to define doom metal for a friend who’s never heard it before. The guitars sound crisp and warm, relying on the bass’s prominent place in the mix for the heaviness that doom fans crave, rather than the excessively fuzzy distortion being commonly utilized in modern takes on the genre.
Speaking of modern takes on doom, it’s getting tough to stand out in today’s crowd. But if Mist consisting primarily of women or hailing from a place as off the metal map as Slovenia isn’t enough to get your attention, the commanding vocal performance of Nina Spruk will win you over. Her voice primarily resides in a lower register but soars to great heights with ease, as exemplified on “White Torch” (the chorus of which will get stuck in your head, fair warning). Spruk’s haunting range and sheer power is further enhanced with a touch of reverb throughout most of the album, giving her vocals a cavernous presence that sounds straight from the 60s or 70s. She wails like a fiery priestess for the most part, but the subdued instrumentation of the title track’s first two minutes allows Spruk to ease up a bit and show off her mournful side, cementing how damn talented she is — if it had somehow taken you until the album’s final track to come to such a conclusion.
Let’s hope Free Me of the Sun launches Mist into a greater spotlight….because it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun to hear what they produce in the years to come! 7/10