Gippsland/Melbourne band Mirrors came onto the scene with Fools Paradise EP in 2017. They’ve since maintained a presence in the heavy music scene, of Melbourne in particular. This has seen the band grow a strong following of fans who make themselves clearly known at live shows.
Kicking off 2019 in strength, it’s a new era for Mirrors. The quartet have revealed two new singles with their solid line-up of Patrick Goodman (vocals), Tyson Taifer (guitar), Jake Mackin (bass), and Robert Brens (drums). Cold Sanctuary releases in full on Friday 10th May, and we’ve had the pleasure of taking time with it beforehand.
The EP’s opener “Damien” is a very personal track for Mirrors, as it’s a nod of remembrance of a lost loved one. Dark and cold as it begins, “Damien” leads deeper into a space of guitar intricacy, and raw and pained vocals in sparseness. The track expresses the heartache of grief; both in the loss of life, and also the lost opportunities to tell the person what they meant to them.
Inner anguish and turmoil is palpable as “Damien” expresses attempts to deal with the loss. A circular sense of ache unfurls into a decision to live in honour of the one that died. Unexpectedly beautiful at its bridge a crystalline moment of ethereal serenity, coming across to me as silent shattering – one single moment suspended in time. With strong and direct choruses, and a sweet vocal ending, “Damien” is far more “I have something important to share” than “What metalcore boxes need to be ticked?”, and I’m pleasantly surprised by this. It’s a great start for the EP.
Buried and layered noise is where the dense and tangled “Stain The Page” begins, akin to frustrated contemplation of life. Anxiety is created by a sense of urgency in pace and complexity, and by the momentary clear and calm vocals in amongst the screams.
I interpret “Stain The Page” as detailing escapes into “the wrong side of reality”, which I construe as meaning the self-medication with drugs or alcohol. The momentary calm and sung vocals (“That I’ll ever need”) comes across as being momentarily soothed from bombardment with these escapes.
Underlying the metalcore tightness of sound is a sense of breadth, and I’m appreciating this, along with the drum and guitar experimentation; instrumental escapism, really. Lighter tones are metaphorically ‘off with the fairies’ while erratic beats hit home the need to wake up. Thematically, “Stain The Page” seems like a melting pot of ‘I’m doing what works for me’, with the hot breath of mortality and a call of purpose there at their collar.
At this point of the EP, we’re two for two with Cold Sanctuary. I’m impressed at the depth that’s been shared in the neat package of the second song as well as its sense of creative experimentation.
The EP’s two singles follow, firstly “Can You Hear The Silence”, where eeriness meets complexity, and builds to the point of suffocation. This scene is skillfully set by frustration-laden vocals and intricate guitar work. Though there’s momentary paring back into more thoughtful and sparse sounds, frustration is yet again at the forefront and fiery roars reflect this; a desperate attempt to get through to the intended ears.
As I shared previously when the single released, the lyric “For now we’re just caught in the hourglass” hit me most powerfully, with the light and downward falling melody. It comes across like a defeated suffocation, watching things gradually worsen, and waiting for them to end – without answers or solutions coming. A fog of eeriness remains throughout the song, carried by a persisting chiming melody while metalcore gymnastic ensues.
The prettiness/dreaminess of the EP’s other single “Cold Sanctuary” brings an out-of-body sense of separation, but heaviness isn’t far away when fear-laden points get slammed home. The track draws us into an experience of self-destruction and anxiousness. Patrick uses metaphor to describe the unseen things that plague him; unnoticed by everyone else, yet inescapable even while he sleeps.
Exploring the track when it released as a single, “Cold Sanctuary” got a nod from me due to its fluidness of sound while also retaining a metalcore strength. With a closer listen now, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the work on drums throughout the entire 3:16. The atmosphere of unease and breathholding anxiety at the breakdown is another standout moment for me.
Cold Sanctuary ends with “The Puppet’s Strings Are Broken”. The track fittingly touches upon the theme of control by using dense, suffocated, distorted sounds. It comes across as a finger pointing piece of music, aimed toward someone who’s made their bed and is now lying in it. It’s a distancing, and a decision to no longer be loyal or obedient toward them.
As the track unfolded, I couldn’t help but find similarity of sound with songs such as Thornhill‘s “Lavender” and Void Of Vision‘s “Grey Area”. While this is not necessarily a critique on its own – because I think those songs are great – there’s definitely a need for metalcore in general to continue to grow versus become stagnant. As a fan of the genre as well as a reviewer, I’m keen for bands to impart a strong stamp of their own individuality, in amongst the impressive runs along the guitar neck, screamed vocals, and djenty breakdowns.
Unfortunately as much as I tried to put it aside, I kept finding myself tripping up on the ‘samey’ factor with those other songs; in particular the skin-crawlingly heavy breakdown section and the guitar tone in general. It should be noted that I’m not a guitarist, and I’m going by feel and by ear alone more than technicality.
Sound aside, “The Puppet’s Strings Are Broken” also unfortunately had less grab/interest for me also due to the lyrical and emotional simplicity. As the shortest track of the EP, I understand the track is an aggressive push-back (and as such isn’t meant to be a lengthy or involved piece). It also includes the phrase “A wise man says nothing at all”, and the song itself may reflect that stance – but I still craved something more. The track may have benefited from another verse, or another kind of shift along the way. Or perhaps Cold Sanctuary would have benefited from another song/a different song as EP closer that would leave a stronger aftertaste of what Mirrors themselves are about and have me keen to hit repeat.
Criticisms aside though, Cold Sanctuary is yet another step up for Mirrors, who admirably seem to learn and grow with each and every release and each show they do. They’ve proven with the EP that they’re musically skilled and capable of making great songs with light and shade. I feel like Cold Sanctuary has the potential to see Mirrors edge their way upward to rub shoulders with current scene ‘heroes’, and gain them further opportunities as a band. With this, I’m keen to see more of their own unique flavour of creativity shine through their sound, and I feel like this is naturally happening with each release.
Most importantly to me, the four piece have demonstrated via Cold Sanctuary that they can deftly bend their sound to reflect the emotions they’re portraying, making for meaningful pieces of music. The personal emotional factor of the EP is done really well and we’re given insight into experiences of grief and anxiety that members of the band have gone through. Very keen to see where Cold Sanctuary takes the band. Keep on keepin on, Mirrors.
Would have loved for the EP to end with some of the personal/individual touches and emotional nuance that Mirrors are capable of.
Great subject matter. Personal/emotional moments skillfully expressed via sound. Strong songs with layers of depth.