Wow! I am completely enthralled by this album! That needs to be made clear right off the bat. For those who don’t know, MIRRORTHRONE is a Swiss one-man project lead by Vladimir, and plays a deeply satisfying and intelligent style of Black Metal with Symphonic and experimental touches. As far as one man bands go this might very well be one of the very best bands I’ve heard in a very long time. On to the music shall we…
The four tracks on here are all long and epic pieces (barring the shorter yet no less brilliant “Mortphose”) and they take the listener on a journey through the beautiful and the grim with so many twists and turns along the way that it is just unbelievable. I guess musically this can be described as a cross between CRADLE OF FILTH (Cruelty And The Beast era), DEATHSPELL OMEGA, and BORKNAGAR. So obviously this will appeal to fans of both sides of the Black Metal spectrum, although anyone with a taste for precise and thought provoking music will sure as hell lap this stuff up.
The first track starts off with keyboards that sound like very eerie church organs and howling wind effects played over in the background – this sets an epic and dark tone for the rest of the song, ands the moment the savage vocals come in this is pure hell (in the good way…), but it is not just pure Black Metal all the way through. At about some great Folk-y synths and chanting is introduced, and this reaches a climax about halfway through the song where we get some great BATHORY meets TURISAS passages, before yet again plunging back into symphonic-but-grim Black Metal. In about 9 minutes this song has gone through a multitude of tempo and style changes while never losing focus and character. Clearly the sign of song writing at its peak!
Next up is the shorter “Mortphose”, a more straightforward and to-the-point song featuring some very Death Metal-like vocals at the beginning, while later morphing into total SATYRICON-esque madness. It has to be noted that the drums are programmed throughout the album, but it has been done exceptionally and only the pickiest of listeners will have any gripes about it. Speaking of which – at around the mark we get some of the most furious and effective drum sequencing I have ever heard, just adding to the overall more Death feel of this song. As good as this song is, it feels a slight bit “rushed’, especially since it’s book-ended by such brilliant tracks. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a classic song, but I feel that it could’ve been expanded a bit more. That’s the only reason I’m not giving this album full marks.
But I digress. The final two songs are the centerpieces of the album for me, with the last track (I’m too lazy to re-type the title againJ) clocking in at 22 minutes. The penultimate track starts off with that eerily atmospheric church organ effects (well, they’re keys actually) replete with monk-like chanting. At about the 1:40 mark I almost fell over when I heard the very LUCA TURILLI/RHAPSODY-like keyboards – for a moment I thought that this song might degenerate into wimpy Flower Metal, but thankfully this part segued nicely into total Black Metal-ness with very effective militaristic drumming and even more blasting, with furious riffing to boot. Man, this Vladimir is a genius song writer!! Anyway, near the end of the song we shift styles again; as we get some technical Death Metal riffs before some of the most beautiful (can I say that in a Black Metal review? Heh) clean vocals I have ever heard. This continues through till the end of the song, while the heaviness is amplified all the while, yet still maintaining a serene atmosphere at the same time. Brilliant stuff.
As much as I want to I am not going to dissect the final track. It is definitely a song that you have to experience on your own, and drown yourself in its infinite greatness. It runs the whole gamut of extreme metal, from Doom to Black to Folk – you get it all on here. The best part of this song was the underlying riffs that came in at about the mark – it sounds a lot like the riffs from DARKTHRONE’s “As Flittermice As Satans Spys”, and that is for sure a big plus. This song belongs in the Olympus of Metal epics…
If you give the album cover a quick glance you might actually be misled into believing that this was going to be some trite Gothic album, but nothing could be more from the truth. Of course you get a lot of atmospheric Goth touches on here but overall this album is firmly rooted in the Symphonic/Avant-Garde Black Metal realm, while at the same time carrying an undeniable rage and grimness that gives it that extra ‘something’ to ensure that this is an album with a sound all of its own.
Vladimir absolutely outdid himself with this album. I heard a couple of tracks from the previous MIRRORTHRONE album (“Of Wind And Weeping”), and much to my satisfaction this album is miles ahead of that one. As mentioned earlier, Vladimir plays all the instruments on here, did production (to my knowledge) and even designed the beautifully thorough packaging/booklet himself! A workhorse he sure is…
…and we’re all the better for it!
This one’s already on the best of 2006 list. An essential listen. (Online May 11, 2006)