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(34:00, ‘Stone Turtle’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hidden Doors 0:56 2. Your Mind Becomes You 3:51 3. Under the Hills Over the Sun 4:21 4. High Flying Twilight 3:01 5. Bring Back Tomorrow 1:55 6. Carvings From a Dream 5:17 7. Everything’s Moving 6:46 8. Afterburning 1:02 9. Stranger Shores 1:39 10. Stop Motion City 4:10 11. When It’s All Too Much 0:42 12. Hidden Doors-2 0:20 LINEUP: Chris – vocals; drums; bass, el. & ac. guitars Donny – el. guitar; percussion Clint – el. & ac. guitars Joe – bass Rebecca – vocals With: Nancy – narration
Prolusion. It’s clear that the self-titled MIRROR SNAKE album is the first release by this American band, though the press kit contains no other information besides what they see as their mission as well as style. You see, the musicians present themselves without mentioning their last names, so they’re presumably very young.
Analysis. According to Mirror Snake, they play modern-day Psychedelic Rock, which doesn’t correspond to the actual state of affairs, IMHO. The main influence on this recording is Black Sabbath circa “Master of Reality” (an album on which their Doom Metal began finding progressive shades), even though Chris doesn’t have vocal qualities resembling Ozzy Osbourne, besides which he at times shares the lead with Rebecca who, being a woman, sounds even less like Ozzy. However, a couple of tunes are sung by Rebecca alone, and those showcase her capability of imitating the intonations (not the voice of course) of Black Sabbath’s original frontman. As for “modern-day”, this suggests a contemporary sound, while the sound is in fact distinctly vintage, throughout the recording. To express it more precisely, most of the music here is hard-rock-y Doom Metal, very well reproducing the style as it was in the early ‘70s, when the genre-related bands were forced :-) to manage with overdrive pedals, due to the absence of distortion units, which appeared a few years later. On each of the longer tracks, Your Mind Becomes You, High Flying Twilight, Stop Motion City, Under the Hills, Carvings from a Dream and Everything’s Moving, the group widely deploys (the characteristic) chugging guitar riffs as well as more melodic, mostly bluesy guitar leads – within instrumental sections. Although I don’t know who of the two free guitar players provides riffs and which solos, their approaches in both cases instantly evoke Tony Iommi’s, and they quite scrupulously follow their mentor’s technique, sometimes down to the smallest details. The last three of the said songs are more varied, thematically and in pace alike, and are richer in differing instrumental interludes, all being not too dissimilar to Into the Void or even Children of the Grave in architecture, whilst the first three are structurally closer to After Forever, all the songs cited being from “Master of Reality”, to be sure. The remaining six tracks are all short, When It’s All Too Much only featuring acoustic guitar and female vocals. One of the five instrumental pieces, Bring Back Tomorrow, reveals the band’s other (perhaps first, presently seeming to be almost extinct) passion, Led Zeppelin, very well imitating Jimmy Page’s style of playing acoustic guitar. The other four instrumentals, Hidden Doors, Afterburning, Stranger Shores and Hidden Doors-2, all leave the impression of being somewhat underdeveloped, perhaps exactly because of their brevity, the first two both reminding me of sketches of the disc’s primary style. Chris’s drumming is the most distinctive feature about Mirror Snake’s identity: it is excellent and often fervent, arousing no associations with Bill Ward and probably anyone else in general.
Conclusion. That these musicians are so traditional within their chosen style is their success and their failure at once. Compared to profaners of the Doom Metal godfathers school, such as Saint Vitus or Trouble, they appear to be accurate followers of their benefactors. Their debut effort gave me some pleasure (Black Sabbath, which pioneered Prog-Metal, are my favorite of all the ‘heavy’ bands ever) and should delight many, yet it doesn’t break any new ground, save the addition of female vocals to the ‘folder’, which, though, can hardly be viewed as a complete novelty. I don’t urge Mirror Snake to change their style: it’s welcome; I only hope they’ll exhibit more originality when they are back with a follow-up to what’s been examined here.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: April 1, 2008
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