Some dips in the vastness of the AMG promo bin are like an invigorating plunge into a mountain lake. Others are like jumping in a rancid dumpster behind a greasy chicken joint during an August heatwave. Germany’s Mirrored in Secrecy managed to give me the weirdest surprise I’ve had in a while with their sophomore album Solitution, approximating the sensation of cannon-balling into a vat of Jello, Vaseline and hobo wine. It’s messy and disorienting, but not entirely unpleasant once you get used to the slippery viscosity. Why the surprise, you ask? Well, this is a band that absolutely refuses to commit to any given genre for longer than a minute or two. There are more switches here than at the local power plant and not all of them make sense. This makes Solitution a turbulent, unhinged roller coaster ride through metal styles with a certified madman at the throttle. Strangely, this loony scattershot approach works more often than not, and definitely more often than it should, ultimately sounding like Moonspell on mushrooms and lithium. Hold on tight and keep all appendages inside the vehicle.

Opener “Bittersweet” starts off exactly as I expected as the band is listed as “goth-rock and metal.” It sounds like Lacrimas Profundere with some early Paradise Lost influences and has the appropriately mopey vibe. Though some death croaks eventually infiltrate, it’s brooding, gloomy goth with no real surprises. It isn’t until follow-up “Last Resort” that the screws start to come loose on expectations, as a classic goth-rock tune lurches abruptly into blasting, trem-abusing blackened death, then back to goth, and then back to death again. What makes the song amusing is how David Bowie-esque the clean vocals sound at times, leaving you to wonder if the man had been born a few decades later if he wouldn’t have attempted something like this. The song actually works too, despite the completely messy stylistic warfare.

And this is the pattern for the remainder of Solitution – the band goes one way then head fakes and takes off in another, leaving the listener a step or two behind sprinting to catch up. “Megrim” mixes vaguely grunge sounding riffs and Gothic-era Paradise Lost doom death with surprising ease; “Autumn Breeze” is a mash-up of Noumena style melo-death and Fields of Nephilim goth rock resulting in a really odd, but effective atmosphere; and “Ravenpath” sounds like a lost Hexvessel track full of hippy dippy weirdness. My favorite is “The Kill” which is like vintage  Darkseed mixed with early Moonspell, and it’s here where everything comes together perfectly for the band for a ripper of a tune that could have been a standout on Irreligious.

With so much musical meth cooking, there was bound to be a few ideas that should have remained unexpressed musically. Luckily most of these are contained and quarantined within “Song of the Dead,” which is a truly godawful merger of Korpiklaani and Crematory that’s so bad it almost gets good. Excise that boil and the rest of the material is quite compelling. Solitution is a quick, concise spin at around 40 minutes and the production is above average with a sharp, punchy mix that compliments the material.

The band is obviously talented and shockingly adept at patching various genres into an enjoyable musical Frankenstein. Vocalist David Timsit appears to handle the gothy cleans and does a good job, often coming across like a less accented Fernando Riberio (Moonspell) mixed with Nick Holmes and the aforementioned Mr. Bowie. It’s unclear if he or guitarist Jeremy Iskandar handles the harsh vocals, but whoever is responsible does a fine job. Christian Peter and Jeremy Iskandar really come through on guitar, delivering a whole lot of catchy, memorable riffs and emotive solos. This is all the more impressive considering how many different genres they flirt with and shoehorn into the material.

This is an unexpectedly good, almost very good cluster fuck of a metal album. I do wonder if many people will “get” what Mirrored in Secrecy is doing musically or if it will be too weird, but after a spin or two, I was hooked and impressed. If you feel adventurous, give Solitution a try. You just might enjoy the ride, assuming you don’t get motion sickness.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Cologne Metal Promotions.
Releases Worldwide: June 16th, 2017

  • Brent Johnson

    “So bad it almost gets good.” Another possible AMG slogan.

    • Not bad.

      • Brent Johnson

        “Come for the riffs, stay for the stupid,” is still the front runner.

        • sir_c

          This is your first Jorning

          • Brent Johnson

            Well, lonely are the brave.

  • Dethjesta

    I’m gonna have to check this out this weekend – I can’t not do so. Mainly because the review states “It isn’t until follow-up “Last Resort” that the screws start to come loose on expectations” The only track available at present is the first track.

    This is makes the rest of the album far too fascinating, to me, not to listen to Friday. Curse you curiosity!

  • rumour_control

    Love this. Another solid Steel review. Another large heaping of sharp wit.
    “This is a unexpectedly good, almost very good cluster fuck of a metal album.”

  • I hate to ask, but do you guys have an Aether Realm review coming for their new album Tarot?

    • Doesn’t appear so.

    • Dethjesta

      I was listening to it the other week. Good stuff i thought. Basically melodeath but this a few other bits going on.

      • I thoroughly enjoy it. The finale, ‘The Sun, The Moon, The Star’ is very good.

  • The guitar work on this is spectacular. Reminds me a bit of Criss Oliva-era Savatage meets Draconian Times-era Paradise Lost.

    • cletusawrightus

      Criss Oliva!!! Then I have to listen!!!!

  • sir_c

    You had me at Bowie. Must say, this is an interesting salad. There’s a lot going on, but not in an ADHD tempo like, for example, Toehider does.
    Imma check this one out, thanks for the nice read.

    • Drew Music

      Maybe I’m just overly high, but I can’t get past the name ‘Toehider’. The entirety of places and ways which one could hide toes is a vast spectrum of pedal possibility, ranging from ridiculously comical to unspeakably dark. If Toehider is pronounced any way other than how I’m clearly interpreting it to sound, I absolutely do not want to know.

      • sir_c

        Maybe it is a misspelling of To Hide Her?
        Still, as awkwardly chosen as a band name can be, I can highly recommend their music.

        • Lithophyte

          You, Sir, have it. They are aficionados of the pune.

      • [not a Dr]

        It also raises many questions:
        -Are they hiding human toes?
        -Are those toes still attached a foot? Their original foot?
        -Are all the toes from a same foot hidden in the same place/manner?

        • Drew Music

          So very many questions. I still haven’t gotten past it.

        • madhare

          Could also be a camel toe.

  • [not a Dr]

    You had me at “[…] ultimately sounding like Moonspell on mushrooms and lithium.”.
    But i won’t let you compromise the freedom of my appendages.

    • You do have the right to tear arms.

      • [not a Dr]

        Don’t worry about my arms and legs.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Steely-D I’m concerned your obsession with hobo wine seems to be getting out of hand.

  • GrimStilt

    Don’t understand the logic behind making the most straightforward song of the bunch available on bandcamp for listening. If they want to generate interest for their eccentricity…

    • Nate Sweet

      Yeah I’m with you. I was reading the review listening to embedded song (mediocre) and getting really pumped up as I read. Hopefully my excitement will last until it comes out.

    • [not a Dr]

      Ar least there are previous releases to listen to while waiting for this one.

  • Chris

    That embedded track did nothing for me, but the description is certainly interesting. It’s on my radar now.

  • Wilhelm

    Embedded song sounds really good. I’m glad some bands are making good heavy dark metal.

  • Lithophyte

    I wanted to like this. Went back and listened to their first album on bandcamp. Timsit’s lyrical approach is too tentative and he needs to sound more like the late Pete Steele of Type O Neg – baritone needs power and control. There’s a Sisters of Mercy vibe going in the embedded track, too. The band keeps splicing together various passages – let’s play this bit now – they’d sound much better if it flowed. Don’t mind Jello and hobo wine, but the Vaseline leaves an after taste.

  • dorgard
  • AnnieK13

    Actually enjoying the heck out of this album.

    Thanks for the review – you pretty well summed it up with “…a turbulent, unhinged roller coaster ride through metal styles with a certified madman at the throttle.”