Thursday, December 26, 2013

Metal Mirror-III

High Roller Records

For someone who claims to eat, breathe and sleep the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement I sure drop the ball a lot! I've said it before and I'll say it again (and likely again and again and again and so on and so forth!), but I really do need to pay better attention to press releases! It looks as if I missed the announcement about this collection of Metal Mirror studio tracks as the news about this release, along with the bit involving fellow N.W.O.B.H.M. act Sparta having a new album out soon(!), hit me like a sucker punch! Well, maybe sucker punch is a bad choice of words as I was really excited (OK, more like giddy as a schoolgirl!) to find out about "III"! The thing is I knew that High Roller Records had previously released two collections of live Metal Mirror material (2006's "I" and "II") so the working relationship between the band and label was already established so in hindsight this release, which incidentally contains every studio recording the band ever made between 1979 and 1982, isn't all that shocking. Anyway, I've babbled on enough about how clueless I can be so let's talk about Metal Mirror instead. Prior to downloading this upcoming collection I was already a tiny bit familiar with the band thanks to their track "Hard Life" appearing on the 1981 compilation "Heavy Metal Heroes, Vol. 1". Well, that and then there's the fact that somewhere around my house I have a N.W.O.B.H. sampler that a friend made me years ago that included Metal Mirror's 1980 single, "Rock'n'Roll Ain't Never Gonna Leave Us". So, between those few numbers I was already quite familiar with Metal Mirror's straight-forward, no-frills hard rock/heavy metal approach. This was a band that was more AC/DC (lead vocalist Cameron Vegas being a fan and all) then Angel Witch and more barroom/biker "muscle metal" then one that would go all wild and crazy with Iron Maiden/Judas Priest guitar solos. Or so I thought. While this 15-track collection does reaffirm the idea that this was working man's rock judging by numbers like the 7:45 (!) "Knives And Dives", the 7:20(!) "Getting Higher" and the 7:08(!) "Commit No Nuisance" there was more to the picture then meets the eye! On "III" there are a few numbers here that push the envelope into more of an "epic" metal territory, but that has more to do with the length of these numbers and the style of playing of guitarists Paul Butterworth (who, come to find out, was into the likes of Judas Priest and Led Zeppelin) and the late great Chris Haggerty (who worshiped the one and only Michael Schenker!) then the actual style of said music. But really, length issues aside, the music of Metal Mirror (which was formed in Middlesex in 1979) the style here is plain, old-fashioned heavy metal. And (judging by some of the comments made by vocalist Cameron Vegas that happen to appear in the promo material) that was what the band was all about. They wanted nothing more then to just play heavy metal and, while short-lived (the band only played about 30 live shows and had sadly broken up by 1982), they did achieve that feat! For N.W.O.B.H.M. collectors this one seems like another no-brainer, but it does have to be said that not every track here is a winner. Will that keep me from trying to buy a copy for myself? Likely not. Even if not every track of this 15-cut collection is drop-dead killer there is enough strong material here to give the overall impression that Metal Mirror could have made a better run at it had they been able to. With the news that the band (or at least lead vocalist Cameron Vegas and original Metal Mirror drummer Gary Hitchens) are once again active and preparing new music for later on in 2014 it will be interesting to see what unfolds next for this bunch. For now though I do suggest snagging a copy of "III" and for those who may be interested here is the official track listing:
2Wild Cat Strike
3Knives and Dives
4Tiger of the Street
5Midnight Eyes
7Mean Liar
8Montana Violation
9Hard Life
10Getting Higher
11Crazy (alternate version)
12One Night
13Commit No Nuisance
14Rock'n'Roll Ain't Never Gonna Leave Us
15English Booze

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