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(54:10 / Red Farm Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Obsession 4:21 2. Moon & Sun 5:07 3. Break You 6:16 4. Black Despair 6:48 5. Open Sore 3:16 6. Hallowed 1:27 7. Mirror 4:26 8. Don't Ask Me Why 8:11 9. Moorland 4:14 10. Forbidden to Remain 10:04 LINEUP: Kalle Wallner - guitars John Jowitt - bass John Mitchell - vocals Paul Wrightson - vocals Tommy Eberhardt - drums With: Yogi Lang - keyboards Clive Nolan - backing vocals
Prolusion. "Mirror" is the debut release by BLIND EGO - a solo project of guitarist Kalle Wallner, who is known to many for being a permanent member of the quite popular German band RPWL. On the other hand however, it is enough to look at the lineup above to come to the conclusion that Blind Ego can easily be viewed as an international supergroup as well.
Analysis. Figuratively speaking, RPWL and Arena both find their reflection in this "Mirror", but not everywhere, by a long way. The first three tracks, Obsession, Moon & Sun and Break You, are all meaty, hypnotic guitar riffs-based heavy metal numbers evoking Judas Priest circa "Ram It Down", just with a more distinct modern feeling. The music is for the most part built around vocals, but there are a few brief instrumental interludes to be found on each, the 'crying' guitar solos instantly bringing to mind the name of David Gilmour or, to be more precise, the approach that David deployed for the first time on Pink Floyd's "Animals". Open Sore and Moorland are both much in the same style, but are more diverse, which is partly because these are free of any singing, and partly due to the appearance of acoustic guitar patterns, some of which are resourcefully interwoven with basic fabrics. The remaining instrumental, Hallowed, is just an intro to its follow-up, Mirror, musically suggesting Industrial Metal, although the spoken phrase there, "Mirror, mirror upon the wall", inevitably evokes Swedish doom-metallers Candlemass, as it word-for-word repeats the first line of the song of the same name from that band's "Ancient Dreams" album. The aptly titled Black Despair is a simple, yet pleasing, kind of fragile ballad with a pronounced dramatic feel to it. Continuing in the same vein, Don't Ask Me Why is an acoustic guitar-driven ballad as well, but has a full-band sound throughout and is generally more complicated than the former. The title number stands out for plenty of overdubbed guitar solos and is one of the most diverse tracks here, combining symphonic and metal textures, both of which though are manifestations of the same genre, namely Neo Progressive. It is the last and, at the same time, the longest track on the disc, Forbidden to Remain (exceeding 10 minutes in duration), that is progressively most saturated. There are some movements with the use of big guns to be found here, but for the most part this relatively largely-instrumental composition evokes so to say classic symphonic Neo, not without some hints of early Arena and therefore Marillion too, the influences popping up partly due to Paul Wrightson's singing, which has always had something in common with that of Fish. It also needs to be mentioned that with the exception of just this one track, the keyboards are used sparingly everywhere on the recording.
Conclusion. While being stylistically a rather motley creation, where traditional heavy metal songs adjoin more challenging ones, "Mirror" should be well-received by those with only Neo Progressive in their diet. The professionalism of the album's creators is obvious, but since most of its contents are instantly accessible, some of the tracks being openly straightforward, on this site "Mirror" can't be rated higher than as a merely decent outing.
VM: May 24, 2007
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