Space Mirrors is a musical project around multi-instrumentalist and producer Alisa Coral, founded in 2002. Arjen "Ayreon" Lucassen, Alan Davey (ex-Hawkwind), Nik Turner (ex-Hawkwind), Martyr Lucifer (Hortus Animae) have all been guest musicians at certain times but currently the band constists of a solid line-up, still including Nik Turner on sax and flute and Martyr Lucifer on vocals.
In short I guess it's save to say that the music on 'Stella Polaris' can be compared to a blend of Tiamat, Jethro Tull, Ozric Tentacles, Hawkwind and (old) Iron Maiden. I know that sounds like a bizarre combination but bear with me, it really works. This is dark, psychedelic old school hard rock, influenced by the works H.P. Lovecraft. Horror-rock might be another decent description.
The album opens with 'Haunter Of The Dark', which starts off as as something Tiamat could have written in their 'Wildhoney' days. The flute brings an extra sense of mystery to the whole which is quite interesting. Then the song turns into a gothic rock anthem, reminding me of bands like Field Of The Nephilim. 'Celephais' continues to walk the dark rock path and issues some old heavy metal riffs. Same goes for title track 'Stella Polaris' and 'West Of Arkham'.
What strikes me most is the constant subdued nature of the male voice. It's never raised, it never screams or growls. It's almost as if the vocals narrate in stead of sing and that's quite a welcome change from the brutality I've been listening to lately. Furthermore, here and there it gives the songs a sing-along capacity, which is perfect for live performances.
'White Ship' even takes us further back in time, the folky seventies or even the free-loving sixties. This is probably one of the brightest songs, in terms of darkness that is, being an uplifting, psychedelic rock anthem that might as well have been played live at the original Woodstock festival.
'Through The Storm' is he first song I would classify as 'metal'. It's faster and has a bit of the in-your-face feeling that is typical for the metal genre. Here the drummer gets to unload a bit. That is a second thing that struck me on this album. It rarely gets obtrusive and intense. In one aspect you may conclude that this is due to incertitude but I think it's just the nature of this band.
My favorite song is the beautiful ballad 'Burning Chaplet', once again exploring the dark rock of Tiamat or even an English version of Lacrimosa. This is one of those typical old school rock ballads, evolving from peaceful but dark and slow guitars to uptempo rock. Yet, here it suddenly gets a psychedelic twist as well as some flashing guitar solos.
But Space Mirros aren't done surprising yet. Oh no, there's more to come. How about a dark ambient anthem that turns into vintage hard rock on 'The Crawling Chaos'? Or how about the strange, sci-fi influenced outro that seems like a weird soundscape and odd vocal samples?
So there you have it, quite a long review for a surprising album, filled with different influences. If you're into dark rock, you really should check this out. It might need some time to grow, for me it did, but in the end this is an excellent album that will probably find my media-machine a lot of times in the near future.