Mirrormaze – Walkabout
For whatever reason, I expected Mirrormaze’s debut album Walkabout to be profoundly mediocre. I don’t know if it was because of my underwhelming experience with their labelmates Bejelit, or just a general sort of bias that another small name progressive metal band surely wouldn’t live up to my lofty expectations. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was thinking stupid for sure. I’d advise you to throw your expectations and reservations out the window, because Mirrormaze doesn’t seem to be interested in letting the fact that this is their debut album stop them in the slightest.
Full disclosure: this is an album that, even upon hearing, I wouldn’t peg as something I would like. Though I am a dear lover of all types of progressive metal, I’ve found many bands that try to mix too many elements without doing so particularly well. This just ends up creating a poor quality middle ground. I’m not sure if it’s the well written melodies, the dramatic presentation, or the absolutely excellent production, but Walkabout has kept me thoroughly invested.
The album opens with a heavy and powerful 6 minute track “Prisoner”. Admittedly, the best thing I can say about this (And many of the tracks) on Mirrormaze is that it contains excellent, heavy, rhythm guitar. Stay with me for a second here, because whether or not you know it, you probably put a lot of importance into them. The second track, “Earn your Answers”, is a really great pseudo-anthem with one of the better vocal performances and an absolutely stellar guitar solo.
What most impresses me about Walkabout is that I can’t pin down my enjoyment to any one factor. There are small touches of just about everything that is righteous going on, and there’s not really any boredom to be found. If nothing else, the album’s sixth track, “Deeper Signs” is a must-hear, both for the guest vocal performance from Fates Warning vocalist and the album’s producer, Ray Alder. I have conflicting feelings on the band’s lead vocalist, which is perhaps the only drawback I could find. The man is clearly oozing charisma, and has enough talent to back it up. Still, at times the sound of his voice wasn’t entirely welcome. At the same time, there have been far more successful progessive metal bands with far worse vocalists, so I won’t complain too much.
The album’s closer, “Broken Soul”, is my personal favorite track. Admittedly, it spits in the face of my ability to complain about progressive metal, because as far as the tropes of the genre goes, this is a pretty standard track. There’s an instinct in me to pan it for the nerve of being so derivative, but I find myself enjoying it far too much to do so. Instead of turning it off in disgust, I find myself hitting the replay button for another run through.
Dagg’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5