tl;dr: After massive changes to their line-up, MIRROR’s sophomore release sounds heavier than their debut, comes with lots of NWOBHM elements, and is – to some extent – fused with eastern-like melodies. Those who enjoyed their debut will surely rejoice with this one as it retains all of the qualities that made them stand out in the first place.
It was in 2015 when MIRROR introduced themselves to the public through their S/T debut album. It was an international project spearheaded by “Tas” on bass (SATAN’S WRATH, ex-ELECTRIC WIZARD), and renowned producer Jaime Gomez Arellano on the drums – worked with CATHEDRAL, GHOST, PARADISE LOST, PRIMORDIAL, etc – that was all in for showing the world how much they loved the true ‘70s and early ‘80s sound. Sadly, despite being part of the Metal Blade Records roster they didn’t manage to capture the attention of a greater audience and let only some to speak of their name.
Fast forward to 2019 a few things have changed. The band decided to run things in a “family business” manner, and as a result most of the initial line-up was replaced with members of the Cypriot metal scene. Apart from Jim Mavrommatis (vocals) – of ARMAGEDDON Rev 16:16, – guitars and drums duties are now handled by members of SOLITARY SABRED, WINTER’S VERGE and BLYND, all of which are renowned bands of the Cypriot scene. Judging from what I’ve heard on the album, I’d say it was a decision that paid off well.
With “Pyramid of Terror” the band takes a different, and slight heavier approach. While going through the album I couldn’t help but draw parallels between how music shifted from the mid ‘70s rock to the early NWOBHM days, and how MIRROR did the same thing with their sophomore release. With the S/T being more on the hard rock side of things – BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE – and “Pyramid of Terror” drawing a lot of inspiration from the NWOBHM scene, the change in their sound feels 100% organic and, to my ears, is more than welcome.
Everyone who digs NWOBHM should be able to tell right away where the band draws its influences from. MIRROR’s music embodies a lot of elements from bands such as (early) IRON MAIDEN, SATAN, ANGELWITCH, DEMON, as well as early SCORPIONS and THIN LIZZY. On top of that, some songs are fused with eastern melodies in the vein of RAINBOW’s “Gates of Babylon” and SCORPIONS’ “Sails of Charon” which allows the band to deviate from the somewhat strict NWOBHM norm and add more texture to its sound (eg. “Apollo Rising”, “Nitocris”).
As with their debut, musicianship remains one of the strongest traits of MIRROR. The aplomb and power that characterises the band is evident from 00:00 ‘till the very end, making “Pyramid of Terror” an overall easy to follow album. Guitars are a work done well, with riffs, melodies and solos being both remarkable and the main driving force in almost every aspect. Songs like “Pyramid of Terror”, “Running from the Law” and “Black Magic Tower” serve as a good example for this. Jim is a rather charismatic vocalist that takes it upon himself to bring the best out of each song. At times melodic and mellow, and at times theatrical and aggressive, he does a good job riding these riffs with his soaring, high-pitched voice that surely helps him deliver a great performance. As for drums and bass, if I were to describe them with just a couple of words that’d be “silent protagonist”; they add depth and a layer of “complexity” without being blabber. Finally, songwriting sticks to simple patterns, but it doesn’t feel simplistic or dull by any means.
With all of the names that were dropped on the table during this review, some would argue the band is after playing music that’s tailor-made for traditionalists, however, that statement would be somewhat inaccurate. MIRROR do love the works of their musical forefathers, but they also run things with the kind of energy and passion that enables them to sound more authentic, or fresh if you prefer, than most retro/traditional metal bands out there will ever do. “Pyramid of Terror” is not a groundbreaking release in terms of innovating in music. However, I truly believe it’s a “must have” release for 2019, especially for people that enjoyed TANITH’s “In Another Time”, GREEN LUNG’s “Woodland Rites” or similar tunes. You won’t be disappointed.