Hindsight as first sight is an odd thing. When I first listened to this it was as someone who had never laid ears on Septicflesh and had no idea what to expect. I admit, I didn't even know this was a re-release of 20 year old material. No wonder it sounds a little dated, eh?

Mystic Places of Dawn, when originally released in 1994, however, was most likely quite groundbreaking. I wouldn't know, as I was out of metal for a while, especially underground metal from Greece. Listening to this now, though, I can see where a lot of today's Gothic metal draws influence from. Bands like Rapture, Amorphis, Insomnium, and many others cut their early chops on Septic Flesh (now just one word, Septicflesh).

Given that my initial reaction was a slight sense of boredom and dislike, I have to update my impressions now that I know just how old this is (and upon several trips through it again). Mystic Places of Dawn is being re-released by Season of Mist, along with four bonus tracks which were originally the Temple of the Lost Race EP.

As with most seminal releases, this one is all over the place musically. It's somber and melancholy as would be expected, but also fast and heavy, ranging from funerial gothic dirges to shredding melodic death metal. Guttural growls and bellowed vocals cry out percussively through the dark tapestries laid forth. The limitations are apparent, however. As a pioneering release in the new genre of symphonic metal, there is no real orchestration. It would be half a decade before bands were recording this style with an actual orchestra.. The keys and guitars make do as best they can, in many cases quite well. At times, though, the sound of the keyboard evokes cheesy 80's horror movie score, though, and that's a bit distracting. I'm also not convinced the drums on this are real, or if at some point during the remastering, they were re-recorded in spots. There are times when they sound like drum machine and others when they don't. Again, not having been there the first go around, I have no idea. If they're programmed then they are programmed well and sound great for the time.

The riffing is very measured and patient, they don't always give you what you want right away. Keeps you paying attention, on your toes. The one thing I definitely found a bit bothersome were the many fade-outs on songs, but it wasn't enough to take away the pleasant surprise of discovery for me. If you're into sad, melodic bands like Swallow the Sun today, this will be perfect for you. It's a little more uptempo in spots, not quite funeral doom, but that dark moodiness is ever-present. This album is perfect for that endless, dreary, rainy day.