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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Reviews: Mirror, Silent Knight, Running Death

Mirror: Mirror (Metal Blade)

Retro-loving occult rock n roll from Cyprus via UK and USA, Mirror's self titled debut is entrenched deeply in the mid to late 70's style of heavy rock music full of huge organs, psychedelic guitar riffing, Ozzy-like vocals and a heaving heap of occult imagery. With nods to Uriah Heep, Blue Oyster Cult, Sabbath, Pentagram and more recently they can be seen as having a similar style to Ghost, Year Of The Goat, Kadavar, so if you are a fan of these bands then Mirror will bewitch you with their myth and magic occult metal. Their opening gambit of the title track will draw you in with it's dual guitar work from Matt Olivo and Stamos K and a chorus that sees Jaime Gomez Arellano (Electric Wizard) adding some killer drum fills, with tracks about ghosts, magik (sic), the occult, along with heroes Mirror's debut is top draw and it seems to improve as it progresses, frontman Jimmy's unique operatic tenor vocals and European delivery adds to the bands intrigue and the retro production means that it has the feel of 70's analogue recording. Curse Of The Gypsy is proto NWOBHM with it's rumbling bassline from Tas Danazoglou making the song have more than a whiff of UFO about it especially with it's progressive middle section and guitar duel that takes it into Thin Lizzy and even Maiden territory something that creeps up again on Galleon. The album really takes off with the classically influenced (Diamond Head) doom laden, organ heavy, Year Of The Red Moon that climaxes into the intro of Heavy King meaning that it sounds like one glorious track with impressive playing throughout. Mirror are a great retro style band with some stunning music to their name Madness And Magik once again lifts the bar high with it's voodoo groove, Cloak Of A Thousand Secrets is a spacey tripfest and the final track Elysian worships at the altar of Sabbath with a bubbling organ below it and then ends with the melodic strains of a single guitar. Mirror's debut is a masterclass in occult loving retro rock with from a band with a international membership and the chops to go far. 9/10  

Silent Knight: Conquer & Command (Self Released)

Antipodean metal has really come out of it's shell in the last 10 years, long gone are the assumptions that the country is just boogie pub rock. Bands such as Parkway Drive have shown that Australia is now on the global map in terms of metal music, which is astounding for a country with almost draconian Parental Advisory laws, meaning that a lot of the bands that are in the charts have to be heavily censored. Still in spite or perhaps because of this they even seem to be embracing the more extreme parts of metal with black metal, death metal all getting more media attention. Added to this is the glut of power metal bands that seem to be coming thick and fast, as they are finally making waves on the other side of the water especially in Power metal's European heartland. Silent Knight are strictly a power metal band, if the band name and album title didn't tell you that then an album cover that features a bloody big dragon on it will. Now power metal has always been in Australia with Black Majesty being one of the most seminal bands in the scene and one of the few to breakout of the country, but Silent Knight look to change that by releasing an album (their second) that looks to win over those outside of their native country. Happily Silent Knight have the chops to do this as they play straightforward, no nonsense power metal with speedy guitars, blastbeat drumming, galloping rhythms and shrieking vocals, no keyboards here folks this is guitar driven fist pumping power of Hammerfall, Helloween and their ilk. The songs are filled with battle imagery with Conquer & Command, The Strike Of The Sword and One By One all having the bare chested bravado of Manowar, the rest of the tracks concentrate on myth, fantasy and metal itself with closer Power Metal Supreme being exactly that before a muscular cover of The Final Countdown gives the song a new lease of life and much like their previous cover of Keeper Of The Seven Keys, lends itself to their style. A great lesson in power metal by these Aussies, hold your broadsword high and ride into battle. 8/10    

Running Death: Overdrive (Punishment 18)

Running Death have finally got around to releasing their debut album and they have improved tenfold since their last EP, they have swapped some of their line up and have almost perfected their 80's style technical thrash metal that focusses on the insane guitar playing of Simon Bihlmayer who styles himself as a modern day Dave Mustaine supplying the record with scarred gruff vocals and guitar virtuosity that MegaDave has always delivered in droves. This second album is a major step up terms of skill, song writing and style, there are more classical guitar breaks, Deludium is an example, more stunning instrumental passages and really just an elevation in the bands take on Teutonic thrash assault. Yes the Kreator and Slayer influences are still there see Hell On Earth and the ridiculously speedy Psycho which is the showcase for Max Bauer's bass and Jakob Weikmann drumming, however as much as the Mille and Kerry have an influence, Remote Controlled is prime period thrash, while Close Minded has the ominous intro of King, Araya and co. It's the touch of Megadeth looms large on Reduced, Mercenary and the title track, with precise speed assault blowing the cobwebs away. Overdrive is a cracking debut from these young Germans get it on your stereo and pit your brains out!! 8/10 

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