Mystras is a new black metal project by Spectral Lore‘s multi-instrumentalist Ayloss. Its aim is explicitly stated and is “to create raw medieval black metal which deals lyrically with less sung acts of valor and bravery from the middle ages, namely of those downtrodden under the shiny heels of knights and lords, who chose to rise up for freedom against innumerable odds and most often perished, sacrificing themselves for the well-being of the next generations,” an idea synthesized in the statement that Mystras is “medieval black metal against empire and aristocracy.” The band’s first album, titled «Castles Conquered and Reclaimed», is set for release this summer and has had two of its tracks revealed. First, there its opening, self-titled salvo, which you can hear below.
Regarding the song, initially released as part of the «Cosmic Collective: A Choir For the Dispossessed» compilation released last year by Red Nebula (and available here), the band stated that it should be enough to make it clear that they play their black metal from “a purely anti-fascist and anti-nationalist perspective” and given its lyrics, which you can find here, it’s hard to argue against that sentiment. Later, they revealed the epic «Storm the Walls of Mystras», which you can hear below.
The song, said to play a central role in the album, deals with “the peasant revolt in the Byzantine Despotate of Morea, carried against the rule of Thomas and Demetrios Palaiologos. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, the fortified city of Mystras, a place renowned for its high culture during these times, become the last bastion of the Byzantine Empire. Yet the Palaiologos brothers co-ruled with inefficacy, which resulted in tens of thousands of Albanians and Greeks revolting in joint strength, due to the chronic insecurity and tribute payment to the Ottomans. The Palaiologos brothers used Ottoman help to crush the rebellion and afterwards engaged in warfare against each other, destroying any hope for future resistance against the Ottomans, who indeed conquered Mystras seven years after, marking thus the end of the Byzantine Empire. Although after some initial victories the revolt was forced to capitulate and the dream of storming Mystras to give it back to its people expressed by the lyrics of the song remained as such, the memory of common people rising together despite different backgroundsa against the injustice and the incompetence of “divine” rulers lived on…”
«Castles Conquered and Reclaimed» is set for release on July 17 by I, Voidhanger on cd, digital, and vinyl formats. Pre-orders can be found here (digital) and here (cd and lp). The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ayloss at the Stellar Auditorium in 2019 and 2020, with the vinyl mastering handled by Colin Marston. Besides Ayloss, it also features guest appearances by Stelios Romaliadis (flute on «Contre Dolour» and tin whistle on «Ai Vist Lo Lop»), Matthew Dakoutros (violin on «The The Cutty Wren»), Viktoria Taskou (yayli tanbur on «O Tsakitzis») and Dimitris Corax Augostinos (frame drum and percussion on «Ai Vist Lo Lop»). Finally, its cover art was created by Loukas Kalliantasis.
You can follow Mystras on facebook.