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Review: Mirrorthrone - Gangrene

Label: Red Stream
Year released: 2008
Duration: 64:42
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: April 1, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers Rating

Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (10 Votes)

Switzerland's Mirrorthrone are certainly a fairly unique band (if you can call Vladimir Cochet's one-man living dream that) in the metal world right now. And that is about the best way to start this, as I do not know any other way to go about it. What can I really say? This is such a monumentally huge album that I'm having a hard time trying to find the right words. This is...well...a lot of things, actually, being epic, sweeping, ominous, dark, technical, thought-provoking and any number of other adjectives you can think of, all in the scope of six long, long songs that don't really feel so much like songs as they do their own individual little mini-verses.

Yes, Mirrorthrone's music is big. No, not big, huge; titanical even. These are not songs that you'll be hauling out for easy-listening pleasures any time soon, that is. This music is really dense, being mostly Symphonic Metal with loads of different parts and influences, mostly drawing from the fruitful wells of Black and Death Metal. Every song is composed frenetically, but also with a lot of precision and care, and the end result basically sounds like Mr. Cochet didn't intend to make an album full of songs this long, but just happened upon it because he had so many damn good ideas to throw in there. And it works, too. This isn't perfect (I'll get to that later), but for the most part, the songs on here are always attention-grabbing and always challenging, and for the more adventurous music fan, this is a goddamned utopia of refinement! Everything sounds confident, calculated and cool, with no weak spots at all, and Mr. Cochet's ambition seems to know no bounds as he makes his way through the dark mire of destructive beauty that is Gangrene.

Talking about individual songs here almost seems a bit silly, as the whole thing flows like a symphony made by some sort of insanity-ridden cacodaemon, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway: The first song is titled "Dismay," and it starts off with a piano melody so beautiful that I was actually sort of disappointed when everything got distorted and the harsh, rasping vocals came in, but the song is a good one, towering high and carrying itself majestically through a wasteland of blackened filth. "No One By My Side" ups the ante, as it is even better, with a more epic and theatrical feel to it, and "The Fecal Rebellion" is the best on here, fifteen minutes long and absolutely wonderful, with great faster sections and some killer, almost proggy, licks here and there, all combining with the symphonic nature of the music with class and style to spare. Songwriting this good should be punishable by law.

After that, though, Mr. Cochet seems to have turned on the Autopilot switch, as "Ganglion" is not quite as good as the three monstrous slabs of esoteric filth previously slagged at us, although it does provide some nice atmosphere. It does tend to drag on toward the end, with the sense of direction that was so prevalent before slightly losing itself now. There is a charm to "Une Existence Don't Plus Personne Ne Jouit," as it does feature some nice riffs and symphonic parts here and there, but it seems to drag on too, and while part of me wants to say that this is just because the first three songs sum up everything about the music and that it's no reflection on the rest of the material, that isn't really true; the songwriting just sort of slipped here. "So Frail" is a good song, but by this point I'm usually not as interested in the album as I should be, sadly. The final verdict on this one? Good, but a bit bloated. The first 35 minutes of this are really amazing, though, so for that I can't help but give this a 4/5. Ambitious, creative and certainly a curiosity at the very least, Mirrorthrone has produced quite a daring piece here. Recommended.

Other related information on the site
Review: Gangrene (reviewed by Pagan Shadow)
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