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Mirror Snake - 2007 - "Mirror Snake"

(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.  Everythings Moving 6:46
8.  Afterburning 1:02
9.  Stranger Shores 1:39
10. Stop Motion City 4:10
11. When Its 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. Its 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 theyre presumably very young.

Analysis. According to Mirror Snake, they play modern-day Psychedelic Rock, which doesnt 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 doesnt 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 Sabbaths 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 Everythings Moving, the group widely deploys (the characteristic) chugging guitar riffs as well as more melodic, mostly bluesy guitar leads within instrumental sections. Although I dont know who of the two free guitar players provides riffs and which solos, their approaches in both cases instantly evoke Tony Iommis, and they quite scrupulously follow their mentors 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 Its All Too Much only featuring acoustic guitar and female vocals. One of the five instrumental pieces, Bring Back Tomorrow, reveals the bands other (perhaps first, presently seeming to be almost extinct) passion, Led Zeppelin, very well imitating Jimmy Pages 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 discs primary style. Chriss drumming is the most distinctive feature about Mirror Snakes 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 doesnt break any new ground, save the addition of female vocals to the folder, which, though, can hardly be viewed as a complete novelty. I dont urge Mirror Snake to change their style: its welcome; I only hope theyll exhibit more originality when they are back with a follow-up to whats been examined here.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: April 1, 2008


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