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perjantai 15. tammikuuta 2016

Space Mirrors - Cosmic Horror III: Stella Polaris / The Street Remains EP

Space Mirrors is an international Sci-fi space rock/prog metal collective led by Alisa Coral from Russia. Their releases feature different musicians from Europe, U.K. and U.S.A including some ex-Hawkwind members. I've been a fan since the debut CD The Darker Side of Art released in 2004 (remastered in 2012). Stella Polaris is the project's sixth CD and continues the dark occult themes of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft (one of my favourite authors!) they have followed since In Darkness They Whisper CD released in 2012. The music on this album released last summer is a cool hybrid of Hawkwind, Iron Maiden and Tiamat. This time they have kept things more coherent and accessible than before, as sometimes in the past the songs have been a bit more chaotic for me. of course you can't express the deep, dark universes created by Lovecraft without some chaos... But it's good to hear some catchy choruses etc. and the song structures are more interesting this time and there is more melody.

Stella Polaris includes eleven tracks. The opener "Haunter of the Dark" starts off with some flute by Nik Turner, who also plays flute and/or sax on three other songs and does narration on one more. Most of the tracks are rather slow or mid-tempo, but there are a couple of exceptions. Alisa plays analogue and digital synths, Mellotron and Theremin and the dark and impressive vocals of Martyr Lucifer are perfect for the gloomy mood. All guitars are played by the talented and metal oriented Sparky Simmons (Acid FM), and the very fluent rhythm section is Gabriel Monticello (bass, from Spaceseed) and Claudio Tirincanti (drums, Blaze Bailey). "(A Passer) Through the Storm" is a bit faster, energetic hard rocker that maybe sounds like Iron Maiden the most and wakes you up like does the other faster track "West of Arkham". Sparky plays some great solo guitar on many occasions. There are also some more atmospheric parts which is great. The longest track is the 11-minute "The Crawling Chaos" that begins with some spacey synth wind sounds and whispering and then gets heavy and progressive. One of the highlights for me! The albums ends with the haunting "The Master" that just has highly effective narration and flute by Nik Turner as well as synthesizers. What a great way to end a Lovecraftian horror metal album!

The Street Remains EP is a sort of sister release to Stella Polaris and was recorded at the same time and released a bit earlier. It starts off with an extended single version of "In the Blood" from Stella Polaris. Then we get three interesting cover songs... The legendary black metal band Morbid Angel have of course used the Lovecraftian themes a lot, and their classic "The Ancient Ones" suits very well for Space Mirrors as well! Tight stuff... A bit surprisingly, but to a good balance, they do a cover of Swedish pop group Vacuum's track "I Breath" and it sort of works. "Bad Things" is even more far away from heavy metal, you might have heard this song before on the cult series True Blood. I like this version! Then we get two original out-takes from the album sessions, "Earth Gods Dance" and the lengthy, trippy and ghostly "Rituals of Shub-Niggurath" that also features Nik Turner. Wow! Both of these releases are warmly recommended for all fans of heavy horror rock and metal and of course a must for Lovecraft followers. Powerful stuff.

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