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.