Mirror - Pyramid of Terror

Mirror Pyramid of Terror cover
Pyramid of Terror
Bad Omen Records
Cyprus’s own Mirror, a band that did comprise of an interesting and international ensemble of musicians, who released a pretty impressive debut on Metal Blade some four years prior, but were unable to capitalize on it being well received, both by the domicile of its members just as much as by how difficult it has become to successfully enter the higher echelons of the metal scene, where most of it is controlled by certain cliques, return seemingly unrepentant, twice as dark as on their debut, with now a purely Cypriot lineup that seems to lend a couple of musicians from their compatriots Blynd, as well as the guitarist from their also compatriots Solitary Sabreed, a band I do find likable overall, but a little too over the top in the vocal department.
Mirror, mk2 with two new guitarists, maintains the overall feel and sound of their debut, but seems to largely abandon most of the 70s aesthetics of their debut that are now minimal at best for a sound that sounds very NWOBHM inspired, when we talk about the darker and heavier end of the spectrum of NWOBHM. Think Angelwitch at their most melodic, with a healthy dose of Dianno era Maiden, early Demon, debut era Cloven Hoof and Witchfynde. Their 70s rock elements now seem to channel more of a Scorpions vibe, rather than the Heepsterisms of their debut, which inherently were closer to heavy metal anyway.
The album begins with the awesome title track, “Pyramid of Terror”, a track spearheaded by a neat, but also lethal riff and Jimmy Mavromatis, stentorian and sorrow-full vocals that seem to sandblast the walls with their mournful wails. It’s an epic, doomy track with just the right amount of melody and bite and some pretty cool leads.
The intro of “I Am the Freak” comes with some tasteful guitars that alternate between short biting riffs a tiny pinch of pick sliding which sounds pretty vintage. Jimmy here sounds more American with a very early Riot meets late Omen style, that is rather new for the band, but pretty good overall. The song quickly diversifies itself by going through some interesting soloing that’s interlaced with some vocals that turn into whispers that sound really chilling to the bone. I half expected the song to come full circle and repeat its intro melodies, but that would have been too obvious, I guess, so it doesn’t… but is no weaker for it.
“Secrets of Time” is based on a very Maidenesque, riff, (think something out of Powerslave) which is however not complimented by Dickinsonesque, leggated wails, but rather by a weird pairing of Jimmy singing a low and high melody or in singular baritone – that would be more akin to Maiden’s “Phantom”. It’s obviously, pretty great, on account of being able to channel it’s influences in the most interesting way, without simply aping them. Good Stuff.
“Master of the Deep” has some pretty heavy riffing, which carries quite a punch and quite a slow pace… initially I thought it was an instrumental, due to the vocals not arriving until almost the second minute; it’s again paradoxically mixing 70s Scorpions maybe, with a baritone delivery that’s not really characteristic of Jimmy and the way in which the song pick up speed and steam is quite remarkable, as it reaches an almost all consuming conclusion… think the more epic moments of Therion sans the choirs. Again very interesting and well done.
“Running from the Law” sounds “different”, I suppose. Still a 70s Scorpions vibe, but a thematic that’s more concurrent. It sounds like a mid-era Riot reject, if I am to be honest… not terribly enamored with this one… but let’s call it a misfire and not an absolute filler, cause it’s not… it just feels like wasted ammo.
“Apollo Rising” gets things back where they should be, with a riff that channels Priest and Omen heavily and a plethora of atmospheres (almost all of them epic) succeeding one another in less than four minutes…
Actually that whole soundtrack atmosphere vibe is reinforced as “Black Magik Tower” is introduced by a sample from an old Vincent Price movie “Haunted Palace” and is followed by some heavy as lead riffs and Jimmy from hell vocals, as he sings of things diabolical and occult, in a way that only seems all too appropriate, think “Black Sabbath on 45 RPM” with Dio-esque vocals…. Like it, or burn in the pyres of hell, acolyte erm, I meant listener...
“Nitocris” is even heavier… it actually had my subwoofer going from a simple rumble to a full-on boom so loud so as to get my usually accommodating neighbors complaining. The occult, sulfur-scented atmosphere persists in a Maiden meets Death SS way, that I do find hard to resist, the theme being the last Pharaoh of the VI’s Egyptian Dynasty the last one of the Old Kingdom.
The last track, “The Last Step Down”, is an uncharacteristically quick paced track for at least the band’s usually mid-tempo perspective. Think something along the lines of “Galleon” from their debut, a little more in your face, but with its own quirky epic elements that make it also quite likable… just a bit too energetic for a closer, but good all the same.
I like immensely the fact that Mirror has not written the same album over – a fact that seems to plague a lot of local and foreign bands alike and took a plunge coming up with the goods despite the lineup changes. These bold, vintage sounding, but modern heavy metallers are here and they demand your attention. Do yourself a favor and ask yourself in the Mirror, who’s the heaviest of them all….?!!