Friday, April 07, 2017

French Metal Friday: Mystery Blue-Circle of Shame (2016 Version)

Eat Metal Records

Mystery Blue is a French heavy metal band that was formed by guitarist Francis Philippon. Other than a short break in the action between the years 1989 and 1995 this hard & heavy outfit has been fairly active live on the stage and in the studio. Preceded in life by "Mystery Blue", 1986's "Circle of Shame" was the second full-length effort from Mystery Blue and it is has been reissued by Eat Metal Records. Last month I covered Eat Metal Record's reissue of the band's 1984 debut (link). Both CDs were mailed to me by a longtime friend and just like the other reissue, "Circle of Shame" includes additional bonus material. In regards to "Circle of Shame" it is the bonus track "Cries in the Dark". Originally released as a 7" flexi with the title track and an Interview, "Cries in the Dark" was included with the first pressing of "Circle of Shame". The song falls somewhere between late seventies/early eighties AOR and vintage European melodic metal. While it sticks out a bit on this heavy metal album, "Cries in the Dark" does have some appeal and I found it oddly satisfying. Opening with the self-explanatory "Heavy and Loud", Mystery Blue's second album came out two years after their self-debut and it shows the band slowly adapting to the heavy metal sounds of the day. With "Mystery Blue" this French band was part AC/DC and part hard rock/heavy metal. This LP finds Mystery Blue picking up the pace a bit on songs like "I'm in Heaven", "Victim of Guilty", "On the Ground", and "Vicious Game". While none of them are as crunchy as "Heavy and Loud", "Circle of Shame" at least finds these French hard rockers trying to do there own thing. The title cut and "Behind the Blinding Light"* show a ever-evolving band that wasn't afraid to explore other styles. Had Mystery Blue stuck at it, "Circle of Shame" could have been the starting point of something special. By mixing hard rock, heavy metal, AOR, vintage hard rock/heavy metal, and progressive rock (it's a tiny dose but it's there all the same!), Mystery Blue's future could have been dramatically different. They would have needed the support of a proper record label and maybe the help of a good producer, but (post-"Circle of Shame") Mystery Blue just might have been a very cool thing. As it stands now (and I'm addressing this 2016 re-issue more than anything), "Circle of Shame" is an album that should find a home in French hard rock/heavy metal collections. Our everyday readers might want to give this one a listen**, but that is only if you are into the older hard rock and heavy metal scenes.

*"Behind the Blinding Light" falls somewhere between a Dio-lead Rainbow and (seventies-era) Scorpions.

**You can hear this re-issue for yourself by heading here.

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