Review Summary: Warning: church burnings should be carried out at your own risk.
I’ve always disliked bands that shove messages down your throat. Music should not come pre-packaged with a dress code or ideological syllabus. It should be enjoyed first and foremost as music
; which is why the above disclaimer in The Mire’s ‘anti-Christmas’ ep package stands as a bit of a turn-off. Of course, hindsight has completely reversed my opinion because the music is fucking tremendous.
Out of the ashes of Bossk and Centurion rise a four-piece post-metal outfit whose members are certainly no stranger to a distinctly sludgy sound. Indeed, those acquainted with the genre will recognise the dissonant guitars, heavy riffs and raspy growls. What is left out, however, is the atmospheric wankery, repetitive drum fills and unnecessary build-ups. In 27 minutes The Mire cut off all the fat and get straight to the point… and that point sounds exceedingly good.
That’s not to say the groundwork isn’t there. Tracks like “Wheelwalker” and the more progressive “Fears” prove that The Mire can and do
craft some crushingly evil sounding riffs. Even the groovy, almost technical number, “The Rift” has a strong post-metal vibe that could sit undeterred alongside most of Cult of Luna’s or Isis’s back catalogue. The Mire’s core sound is definitively sludgy, but that’s not what makes it a compelling listen. The album’s main strength is in its melody. From the redemptive chorus of “The Rift” to the vocal layering at the end of “Fears”, front-man Robin Urbino’s haunting voice helps carve The Mire a distinctly unique sound. This is no more apparent than in opener “The Nobleman”, where melancholic vocals weave gloriously amongst a solitary piano line and a sombre set of strings.
Yet it is when The Mire combine both
elements that the band really shines. Album highlight “Shadows” exemplifies this perfectly, showcasing an impressive blend of instrumentation, soaring vocal passages and a perfectly-paced guitar solo. This juxtaposition is sustained throughout most of the ep, characterising the disc’s most complex and memorable songs. Unfortunately the flailing, two minute intermission, “Curse Variations” feels like mid-section filler as it is not interesting enough to stand as an acoustic interlude and not long enough to hold as a standalone track. Yet this is a minor discrepancy. In just 27 minutes, The Mire have formulated a tight and extremely polished set of songs that stand out in an already blisteringly successful year for metal; a testament to Urbino’s production skills no doubt, considering the thing was recorded by himself, in a basement.
The Mire’s sophomore effort is a definitive ‘must-listen’ not just for fans of the genre, but for fans of metal in general. It is a stellar release from a group that is certainly one to watch… in between cautious bouts of faith-related arson.