Review Summary: Good effort but heavily plagued by fillers
It seems Guillaume Bideau has been a busy little bee in 2012 shifting from his daytime job in Mnemic to moonlighting with what seemed to all of us at some point a one-off side project but it has been revived once more and One-Way Mirror are now back with all of the members from the first self titled album with the exception of Soilwork skinsman Dirk Verbeuren, replaced with Clément Rouxel who seamlessly slips into that massive void.
Having had a decent debut in 2008, the Frenchmen finally return with their sophomore album 'Destructive By Nature' which pretty much picks up from where they left off with some surprises here and there both being good and others not so much. Opener "One-Way Mirror" sets the tone of the album with everything good and bad by starting off with a crowd chanting the band's name back which at first listen is annoyingly cheesy, in fact, cheesier than a hobo's privates but luckily the song redeems itself by actually offering a very promising start, the track has a groove-driven riff with added industrial effects which is instantly silenced during the verse to which an almost clean bass is revealed followed by a typical and very uplifting chorus sang cleanly. The track also features the only solo of the album and for good reason too because it does feel out of place with their particular style but at least no one can accuse them of not exploring available options.
The band's trademark sound consists of what I can only describe as "skipping effects" which they have introduced and cleverly used on their debut and continue to do so on this one but doesn't always work well and in some cases are overused which makes it lose its novelty in some way, less is definitely more in some things and this is one of them.
The album does not feel rushed in anyway and the song structures vary from simple to interesting depending on perspective. The album production is a tad different from their debut mainly due to the absence of Tue Madsen who mixed and mastered the previous one and now It's pretty much the band who have all their fingers in every available pie and they do an absolutely fine job. The overall sound of the album, especially the drums does feel more natural sounding and is missing the very well known Madsen sound.
There are few gems to look out for, namely "Face To Face" and "Hypnotized By Utopia" which sums up OWM to new listeners of the band, very heavy, groovy and sinister courtesy of the Potvin brothers who are putting their trusty Engl Savage amps through its paces and both have massive choruses that stick to mind long after first listen and have replay values but sadly there are also fillers and none so clearer than "Made In Vain" and "Inner Symphony", absolutely no attempt there from the band to breathe any life or make something interesting especially after such a good start but things finally pick up when "Deadly Shores" roar its way through to save the album followed by lead single "Yes But No", a fun and bouncy track that also features a funny maniacal laughter from Bideau.
Speaking of the enigmatic frontman, Bideau is very much the drive of the album and his stylistic choices of techniques are quite interesting. Having a little more freedom to explore and test new grounds with his vocals as oppose to Mnemic has paid off in most places and is definitely hitting higher notes than previously registered. Application of effects to his voice is also present mostly during verses and adding distortion to his screams for an industrial-tinged feel does nothing but enhance the overall soundscape. There definitely is a lot more cleans being featured this time round on majority of the songs and that may be mostly due to him becoming a better singer in general.
'Destructive By Nature' is a hit and miss, it is very impressive when they are not going through the motions and would have been a great album if the middle wasn't so lethargic.