Mirror Queen – Inviolate Review

Inviolate is NYC band Mirror Queen’s fourth album. I’ve never heard of them, nor of the group they rose out of, Kreisor. Therefore, I have no preconceived notions of what to expect. The group claims to be influenced by Blue Öyster Cult, Hawkwind, and more, so that’s a promising start, and I’m always happy to jump into some retro metal to hear what’s shaking, especially if the band also professes to lean into some psychedelic realms. Not touring because of you-know-what resulted in the band being able to more thoroughly collaborate on this seven-song offering. Let’s dive in and see what the dealio is.

“Inside an Icy Light” is not the most promising start to an album. The song is very simple and plain, like vanilla ice cream. A basic rhythm and awkward chorus add up to a forgettable track, although Kenny Kreisor (oh, I see where the old band name came from!) has a strange, almost hypnotic timbre to his voice on this and other songs. Thankfully, “Sea of Tranquility” features a much cooler groove, and the guitar interplay here keeps this laid-back number relatively interesting. Sure, it might be three minutes too long, but the first 4:30 show promise. When Mirror Queen are firing on all cylinders the songs can really pull the listener in, with an energetic rhythm section, some truly stellar guitar solos and harmonies, and Kreisor’s two vocal styles; hard-rocking and aggressive, and airy and smoky.

Where things go up a notch is on “The Devil Seeks Control” – at least, once we get past the 2:30 of a slow, crawling intro. The galloping double-time song proper and the evil-sounding chorus sound great, but again editing poses a problem. Take away the last three minutes of “Sea of Tranquility” and the first two minutes of this one and you’d have a couple of sweet tracks. This practice comes to fruition on “A Rider on the Rain,” which is three and a half minutes of pure ass-kicking. Much like “The Devil Seeks Control,” Kreisor takes on a more aggressive tone with his vocals and it works like a charm, showing that Mirror Queen can create some compelling songs when they set aside the chaff.

The problem is Mirror Queen just don’t do that enough. The impression once we get to the end of Inviolate is that the band struggled to cobble together 40 minutes of content when really this would have been much better presented as a 25-minute EP. “Coming Round with Second Sight” has the coolest riff on the album, and one of the coolest overall in the stoner rock realm this year, but again the song drags on far too long. Despite this misgiving, there is a certain weirdly hypnotic quality to a lot of the music here, capped off with Kreisor’s airy upper register vocals which can often cast a spell over the listener. And the dry, organic production does fit with the band’s style. But that style doesn’t remind one at all of Hawkwind or Blue Öyster Cult.

At times, especially in the more up-tempo moments or when the excellent guitar harmonies are in play, Mirror Queen actually reminds me a bit of Gygax. Sadly, those moments don’t occur often enough to make Inviolate an album to return to frequently. Too much filler and not enough killer, as the saying sort of goes. Taking the best the band to offer here would have made for a very captivating EP, whereas the meandering makes our attention drift. While there are moments of glory to be found, overall this is a rather meek, inoffensive album.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 160kbps mp31
Label: Tee Pee Records
Websites: mirror-queen.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/mirrorqueennyc
Release Worldwide: June 24, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Come on record label, what century are you living in?!
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