One of Germany's most popular pure black metal bands, Mystic Circle was formed at the tail end of 1992 in Ludwigshafen by the colorfully named Graf von Beelzebub (bass/vocals) and his partner in crime, Aaarrrgon (drums). 1993's Dark Passion was the first of three demo tapes which, over the next few years, helped spread the band's satanic gospel in the German black metal underground. Three 1996 EPs (one, a split with fellow Teutonic terrors Blood) led up to their full-length debut with 1997's Morgenroete-der Schrei Nach Finsternis, also featuring guitarists Mephisto and Agamidion. But they were soon gone, replaced by Isternos and Ezpharess, who along with Baalsulgorr (keyboards) contributed to Mystic Circle's European breakthrough, 1998's concept album Drachenblut. Extensive touring with Scandinavian black metal masters Marduk and Old Man's Child followed, and after a few major festival appearances, the band recorded what many still consider their masterpiece, 1999's Infernal Satanic Verses. Featuring guest vocals from Sarah Jezebel Diva, the album saw the band's ambitious brand of symphonic black metal fully realized, but their will was soon tested by the departure of founder Aaarrrgon. Forced to use a drum machine for much of the ensuing tour, the band finally found a (reportedly) human replacement in Raziel, who joined in time to perform on 2001's The Great Beast. Isternos also made his exit a short time later, and new drummer Necrodaemon was added in 2002.
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