Mekong Delta
In a Mirror Darkly


4.0
excellent

Review

by Voivod STAFF
April 24th, 2014 | 57 replies


Release Date: 04/29/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mekong Delta are cracking the whip again.

Mekong Delta belong to a rather small club of metal bands that just don’t know how to make bad music. The albums issued between 1987 and 1997, plus the comeback affair Lurking Fear in 2005, stand as essential evidence of the band’s ability in exploring the intermediate space between classical music and the tech ends of speed/thrash metal. The above being said, their 2010 outing Wanderer At The Edge of Time was a good album overall, but fell rather short in reaching the appeal of its direct predecessor or previous albums. In what appeared to be a formal trial against legacy Mekong Delta material, the 2012 compilation album Intersections provided some proof that the current incarnation of the band could go places, should it focused more decisively on its ‘90s progressive rock/metal era. And indeed, the 10th Mekong Delta observation In A Mirror Darkly does just that, but with a rather unexpected, yet utterly welcome tech-thrash twist.

On par with the previous album, In A Mirror Darkly clocks at 40+ minutes, but the extent of the track list follows the Iron-Maiden-80s-classics standard this time around. Fortunately, the sense of austerity and order in the track list has been extended to the actual music, which has been granted an optimal flow throughout the album. In that light, Mekong Delta are operating as a tech thrashing progressive rock band. Some could argue that this has been done in Kaleidoscope, but In A Mirror Darkly appears to be a different story. In contrast to Kaleidoscope or Visions Fugitives, progressive/thrash metal is indistinguishably blended with the classical music elements into regular tracks.

As previously mentioned, the constituent elements of the new album come from the ‘90s (albums between Dances Of Death and Pictures At An Exhibition), but they have been translated into the band’s current state of play with no discount in quality. The same applies for the sound production which lies among the best the band ever had. The sound of the guitars has been configured for both a classical music orchestra and a rock/metal band, whereas the rhythm section sounds tight (albeit the drums may be slightly over-produced). Lastly, the primary and secondary vocal tracks are appropriately balanced with respect to the instrumental music, even when the latter is over the top, in terms of complexity and intensity.

Speaking of which; Mekong Delta are notorious for both, be it in studio albums or live performances. The firm structure of In A Mirror Darkly in terms of musical arrangements and “secondary” attributes, allows it to continue that way. Bassist, and heart of the band Ralph Hubert, has managed to combine all his musical incentives into a unified piece of work, perhaps for the first time in his career. Moreover, he has mined the best out of all band members. Alex Landenburg’s metronomic drumming is really impressive, as it copes with some really cumbersome shifts between time signatures whenever is necessary (“Hindsight Bias”).

The skills of guitarist Erik Grösch were evident from the previous album already, but the optimized flow of In A Mirror Darkly has allowed him to display them in full. Whenever his rhythm guitars are not progging (sic) or thrashing, his leads sound as electric strings adapted for a classical orchestra, bringing in mind Mekong Delta's adaptation for Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. Last but not least, Martin LeMar’s vocals have been improved considerably, compared to the previous album. In addition, he has done a great job in configuring his main and secondary vocal melodies with respect to the not-so-vocals-friendly sites of the music.

In conclusion; Mekong Delta are cracking the whip again, as they have remedied the moderate ills of the previous album, both in musical and technical context. As the current line up endured the weight of the band’s back catalogue with Intersections, Mekong Delta stirred the pot and produced a sound that should hopefully get them acquainted with more fans longing for essential/adventurous metal.



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user ratings (37)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Constructive criticism is most welcome.

I wish there was a stream for the album, so that it could be heard by as many people as possible. Band should really consider joining soundcloud or bandcamp or similar services, not just for this album, but for its back catalogue too.

Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

Willie
Moderator
April 24th 2014


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd never heard of these guys before, but I really like it. It's like a cross between modern Fates Warning with a bit of Nevermore.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


10382 Comments


I love that summary for some reason.

Digging: Thou - Heathen

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd never heard of these guys before, but I really like it

If you liked this album, you -and everyone- should definitely check their '90s albums. Kaleidoscope in particular would easily be their best, if The Music of Erich Zahn was absent from their back catalogue.

About Fates Warning, their drummer is not too far from Mark Zonder on this album.

ti0n
April 24th 2014


1591 Comments


they live like 50km away from me and you as an american(?) know them better than me as a german. doh!. good review

Digging: The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

^^ I'm not a US citizen, I'm from Greece.

ultimatethrasher
April 24th 2014


161 Comments


Good review Voivod, I've never heard this album. I don't understand why these guys are underrated, there such a good band

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Since their inception in the mid '80s, they were a highly experimental band and metal fans at that time weren't as open-minded as they are now. That situation endured in the '90s as well. Add their 8-year hiatus (1997-2005) and you get the picture.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2014


20158 Comments


nice review voivod. band is cool but i haven't heard any of their new stuff

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2014


16131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kaleidoscope sounds great, from what you are saying this is simialir but with classical music elements ?
great rev

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Pretty much, but all the main directions of the band- tech thrash, progressive rock and classical music - are blended to the point where they sound indistinguishable the one from the other.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2014


16131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

need stream want to hear, most their stuff is on gplay so i guess it'll be on there soon

evilford
April 24th 2014


22987 Comments


this band rules, I'll have to dig up their stuff again

nice rev dude

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2014


19064 Comments


It's like a cross between modern Fates Warning with a bit of Nevermore


nevermore, or possibly more sanctuary. the album name isnt a far cry from into the mirror black

Digging: Objekt - Objekt #2

bloc
April 24th 2014


35024 Comments


Gotta check this shit for sure

BlackLlama
April 24th 2014


1706 Comments


Love their older stuff! Going to check this tonight.

PortalofPerfection
April 24th 2014


624 Comments


Progressive thrash, I must cop.

Geadom
April 24th 2014


2838 Comments


yes, yes, new album is out, gotta check!

Jom
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2014


2711 Comments


A very good review - nicely done. You have a technician's way of writing (which I tend to gravitate
towards to begin with) without being boring. Keep up the solid work, and I'll get this featured at the
beginning of next week (unless one of the other lads does so first).

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Jom, the band deserves to be put under the spotlight.



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