1. Redeemer 2. Phoenix Syndrome 3. No Loss Cut 4. Postbelievers 5. Perfect Plan 6. Soul Distortion 7. The Trial 8. Thief 9. New Day 10. Metropolis Metamorphis
I must admit, I knew nothing about Sweden’s Mirador prior to receiving a promo copy of this album. And while being exposed to this most enigmatic of musical entities hasn’t quite changed my life, it has definitely added to my sense of hope for rock music at large in 2005. Having been together in various forms since the early nineties, Mirador today is actually the songwriting/ recording duo of Jakob Forsberg and Erik Mjornell, aided here by drummer Olof Gardestrand. The band’s history seems to have been patchy until recently, marked by ongoing lineup changes and uncertainty over musical direction.
Somewhere along the line, the longtime friends apparently discovered doom metal in a big way, and have drawn largely on this influence since. "The Azrael Tales", however, is not the sort of slow, Sabbath-derived sludge often associated with this sub-genre. Rather, doom seems to be but one of many musical reference points here. It’s hard to describe exactly what we have on our hands musically, but I can give you a vague description. It’s dark and a bit doomy, yes, but several other sonic elements compete for your attention. The vocals are nimble, passionate and haunting, swooping up and down between registers so seamlessly you almost don’t notice after awhile (check out “Perfect Plan” for a heroic chorus if there ever was one!). The recording, oddly enough, is crisp and clear- not sludgy or sloppy at all, with a noticeably scooped guitar sound and occasional use of modern sound effects (methinks I hear a drum loop on “Soul Distortion”). The playing is tight and skillful, but not the least bit flashy, save for some tricky rhythms (lots of triplets!- that’s musician talk, kiddies!) and the occasional fret-burning guitar solo. There’s lots of texture here too, from grandiose vocal harmonies to subtle harmonized guitar lines which are skillfully woven into many of the songs (see the opening bars of “Soul Distortion”). “Metropolis Metamorphosis” is an odd but impressive album closer, with its delicate acoustic intro, clever time changes and overall dramatic feel.
Like I said, hearing this album hasn’t exactly set my world on fire, but there is much to be said for Mirador’s talent. It’s too early to say what sort of impact Forsberg and Mjornell’s music will have on the world- a string of quality albums will be the real proof of their worth. Hopefully their work rate will improve from here on, so we don’t have to wait another decade for their next opus. In any case, if you like dark, atmospheric, melodic metal fare that bends the rules a bit, you may want to give "The Azrael Tales" a try.
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details