Nameless Mist return amid frigid pressure with stunning, slicing black metal on riff-plastered ‘II’

It pretty much goes without saying that black metal and the winter go together seamlessly as it’s a relationship that was forged near the beginning of the subgenre’s formation. As I write this, the snow is piling up outside my window, expected to accumulate anywhere from six inches to a foot, and all I can think about are riffs and goblin-style vocals relentlessly ravaging me.

It’s an ideal time, then, for Nameless Mist to return with “II,” the project’s second full-length overall, and their second in less than a year (“I” was released in June). Helmed by sole creator Lauren Straily, she has labeled this band “wintry trans anarchist depressive suicidal black metal” though the music is so rushing and immersive that I felt more enthralled than low. Straily creates a stunning vision here, upping the ante from her debut under this banner that also was really powerful. You can feel the energy and passion building in the music, rolling dangerously downhill and picking up an alarming amount of speed along the way. I can only imagine if we already have two Nameless Mist records this strong, what does the future hold? It’s exciting and intimidating to think about.

“The Drowned God” dawns and basks in soundscapes before a killer riff arrives and takes off heads, with the shrieks tearing into your flesh. Guitars drizzle as anguishing hell spreads itself and creates blackness, and then calm sweeps in for a spell, a synth stream cooling your face. The leads launch anew as mystical might strengthens its grip, the drums hammer, and the guitars blister one last time before ringing out. “The Behemoth” crumbles and clobbers from the start, the vocals wrenching as the earth quakes. Riffs slice through as the storm gets heavier and more oppressive, and the shrieks strike like tiny razors activated in a tornado. Destruction continues to spread as the carnage flows, and a synth shield develops, helping shield your eyes from the cinder spray.

“The Dead Woman” arrives suddenly, punishing thoroughly as the vocals bring menace. Riffs fire up and deliver a dramatic charge, and it feels like fire erupts in your guts as everything penetrates even harder. The playing continues to sprawl and churn as devastating melodies sweep your heart with everything fading into a bed of acoustics. “The Queen of Shadows” is the longest cut at 14:45, and it makes great use of every moment with the playing exploding from the gates and mangling from there. The vocals spike as the pace boils and blends into synth mist, bringing a period of calm that lets you catch your breath. Your blood begins to rush as the vocals return and mount an assault, dragging you through another gasp of serenity and into the next burst that wastes no time coming at you. The vocals destroy and melt the ice encapsulating your limbs, while an emotional caterwaul storms through, ending the track in a pool of noise. “The Murderer” in an instrumental finish built with numbing guitars glistening, giving off a wintry vibe. The steam begins to build as thick fog captures, taking you along with it into the throes of oblivion.

My most recent visit with “II” came as I watched this slowly collecting snowstorm outside my window with Nameless Mist’s music coming as a perfect soundtrack. The leaps and bounds from Straily’s first release under this banner are obvious and impressive, ensuring this record must be acknowledged as a black metal force that has its best days in the future. This is a mesmerizing, intoxicating dose of classic era thunder from a musical standpoint, and it’s an absolute pleasure to behold.  

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