Mindless Automatons is the third album from one-person project THROUGH MISTS. Not only that, it’s the third album released this year, which is a ridiculous work rate, meaning that an album has been released on average every two-and-a-half months. And these are chunky releases too; Mindless Automatons is seven tracks long, the prior albums were seven and eight, and all running around the 30 to 35 minute mark. As you can imagine though, this means that THROUGH MISTS has employed the churn-it-out approach, and the results are really something.
Gone Within Greed opens with a muddled and unpredictable drum break before the track’s central riff, thick with dirge, comes rumbling through. There’s something about this track that draws you in – though it’s a little rough around the edges – but between the rhythm section, some meaty riffs and a dual vocal delivery (which we’ll come back to later), the intrigue is high.
However, Bloodstained Ego will stop you in your tracks, but only because you’ll be trying to figure out what is happening. Lounge piano starts playing out of nowhere and seemingly doing its very own thing; like when there are too many tabs open and an ad auto-plays somewhere, leaving you frantically finding and closing the offending window. It is a baffling and deeply discomforting listen and we are only on track two.
Lyrically, there’s not much to write home about either. According to socials, these came from a very visceral place, but lines like “These burdens are my own / I wouldn’t expect / A piece of trash like you / To understand” feel distinctly immature, like the scribblings of an angsty teen in the back of a school workbook.
To be blunt, the whole album falls foul of the same criticisms time and time again. However it’s Mindless Automatons’ midpoint, Merciless Inculcation, that really delivers the killer blow for this record. Now, quick bit of credit where it’s due – to ‘inculcate’ is to repeatedly teach something so as to implant an idea. This track more than lives up to its name, then. By far the longest track on offer at almost seven and a half minutes, it opens with a jaunty, pacey riff, but soon devolves into a crooned chorus that repeats and repeats and repeats for no other reason than to just smash its way into your skull. Sure, you can classify it as ‘merciless inculcation’, but you can also look at it in the frame of the famous saying: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. This may be 2022’s clearest musical example of it.
It’s not all so bad: the dual vocal element deserves calling out as a highlight for the record and the act. THROUGH MISTS employs a combo of deep, primal gutturals and shredding goblin screams. Both ends of the spectrum are delivered well and used together to give a rich, varied texture to the maelstrom of everything else that is happening to you. There’s an element of NEKROGOBLIKON about it all from a vocal standpoint, but the total product is far less amusing and even this continually relies on the same vocal patterns and melodies.
The few redeeming factors sprinkled throughout this record are not nearly enough though to rescue Mindless Automatons. While THROUGH MISTS can be applauded for a prolific work rate and willingness to push the bounds of black metal into the avant garde realm, the same cannot be said for the execution, which is amateurish at its best, but unlistenable at its worst.
Mindless Automatons is set for release on August 22nd via MSH Music Group.
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