MIRROR – The Day Bastard Leaders Die (2022)REVIEW

Spineless, flaccid lick-spittlers! Panderers all! Plutocratically castrated creatures of no certain consequence would naturally allow the rule of government be swiped away by the dominant womb of social engineering. By instinct the tyranny of the majority staring back so flusters the swine-eyed at the sight of their own reflection that they’d swing their pridefully opportunistic hog’s heads with doubtless pride, bobbling about the screaming saw-bladed cull of the slaughterhouse ahead as if by destiny they’d been ordained to die. “Die to live, live to die” — In this barely crowning suicidal age of our crowded endtyme there’ll be no respite, only heroically planted flags and warrior’s deaths for those seeking the genuine heavy metal article amidst the flurry of noise emitted from a compressed and kneeling humanity. Cypriot heavy metal quartet Mirror plant a bloodiest, heaviest flag with their third full-length ‘The Day Bastard Leaders Die‘ today, a defiant stand in the best tradition of loud, all-in heavy metal spiritus.

It might seem obvious enough eh, but the place to start getting to know Mirror is their self-titled debut (‘Mirror‘, 2015) a strong out the gates debut which featured a one-time crew of well-known folks from the extreme metal underground. The greater history of the band since has largely hinged upon the pairing of multi-talented musician/artist Tas Danazoglou (Satan’s Wrath, Friends of Hell, ex-Electric Wizard) and fine vocalist Jimmy Mavromatis, whom have since re-staffed the band with folks from the Cyprus power metal underground. Their songcraft and performances on-album were notable from the start in nailing Tas‘ “traditional heavy metal done right” intent by way of an already in-gear sound, capable of flex between Satan-esque rippers and ‘Lonesome Crow‘-meets-Rainbow inspired epics. Much as that’d constituted a classic heavy rock driven attack their sound was indicative of some great love for British heavy metal of the late 70’s and early 80’s, a style which found a pub-sized NWOBHM stomp as often as it hit the dramatic highs of pre-‘Killing MachineJudas Priest. I’m spending a bit too much time leaning into that first record’s style for the sake of suggesting that each record from Mirror has more-or-less held true to an certain set of steadfast ideals but they’ve let the result be its own thing; That is to say that their second album (‘Pyramid of Terror‘, 2019), and first with the current line-up, was something different yet equally fine in its overall package (style, render, aesthetic, etc.)

Pyramid of Terror‘ was a satisfyingly over the top heavy rock-ready record guided by its fine use of lead guitars and high voltage vocals, from my point of view they’d pulled back into the late 70’s more directly the second time around. Out of the pub and into the arena, eh, a sort of awakening for the band beyond their original conception in terms of uniting the thinking man’s side of 70’s metal in natural lineage with classic power metal it’d influenced. Doubt they mapped all that out on paper beforehand but hey, point being that they’ve been working with a classicist aim from the start. As evidenced by its title ‘The Day Bastard Leaders Die‘ is on the attack, they’ve a lot to say on this record and the upped speed, and fiery lead-driven heavy metal marches supplied get it all across with truly satisfying violence and force, well-honed and still fully tuneful but now breaching the early 80’s heavy metal zeitgeist more directly. The single-driven and riffing hard vibe of earliest NWOBHM singles and late 70’s Priest-worthy bombast is very much alive and thriving within this aggression, though and makes for a record I could praise in a few different ways. Their best album yet, or, their third god’s-damned great record in a row.

The way I’ve approached this record in terms of my own perspective vs. the artists clear enough intent sees their songwriting as more of a direct product of those mid-to-late 70’s influences, landing a sort of early Manilla Road gallop (see: “Souls of Megiddo”) as a base-level attack and keeping the listener guessing as to where each song’ll take ’em, still very much rooting their presence in an early power metal stomp when it comes time for anthemic uproar. Though the tone is less easy going, a deal more gritty yet slickly achieved a la early Mercyful Fate, they’re still clearly pulling from the most classic 70’s heavy metal pool for broader strokes, as evidenced by the clenched fist of songs like “Stand Fight Victory” and the high-impact spire of “Demon Candles”. Forty-four minutes and nine songs definitely could’ve gone kinda wrong in the hands of a less focused band yet these guys are brimming with ideas and gusto enough to pull it off in the best tradition, having put in the time to develop each piece as standalone and always memorable statement.

Though I’m not up for digging through the details of each song, even when intending to point out major highlights I’ve end up tallying up countless highs throughout the full listen — they’ve not dropped a filler track or experimental clunker within the lot. The pairing of “Souls of Megiddo” back-to-back with the galloping momentum of “Savage Tales” was the key section that’d sold me on the album as a whole but, I’d found myself cutting back to the sky-clearing lead guitars and arms up/fists clenched vocals that serve the speed metallic thumping of “Fire and Hell” most often, a great song to hit for effect and the perfect mid-album wakeup piece. “Sleepy Eyes of Death” is arguably the most power/nigh-speed metal piece on the full listen with its (again) brilliancy of leads providing a hook and a half I’d likewise flipped back to countless times. There is really nothing holding back the running order here, the energy is up throughout ‘The Day Bastard Leaders Die‘ and you’re not getting samey songs or cloned melodies at any point, just full-spectrum Mirror for an absolutely solid run of their best. That’d be the point to make overall I suppose, this third full-length finds these fellowes running on just the right octane hum for my own taste, the exact sort of pure heavy metal that sticks to my skull without warning and fixates in the best way possible, only improving spin-after-spin. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (89/100)

Rating: 9 out of 10.
TITLE:The Day Bastard Leaders Die
LABEL(S):Cruz Del Sur Music
RELEASE DATE:April 22nd, 2022

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