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Sierra - The Mirror Award winner

The Mirror
by David Nowels at 12 August 2018, 10:07 PM

SIERRA’s “The Mirror” just might go down as my most impressive surprise album of 2018. These guys describe themselves as “proggy doom from the great white north”. Progressive Metal? Absolutely. Doom? I’m personally not so sure, but I’ll trust their own definition. Great white north?  You bet. These lads hail from Kitchener, Ontario and have been on tour as support for WEEDEATER and ZEKE while supporting their current release “The Mirror” on Retro Futurist Records.

And that’s how I discovered them. They blew me away, and their album reinforced it. The Mirror opens quietly with “About the World”. Just acoustic guitar, Jason Taylor’s vocals and some synth.  Within the first verse, you can already realize that this isn’t just your standard fare Metal. There’s substance and meaning to these lyrics.

“How many times have I closed my eyes
And made me believe
The things I do will shine through?
In how many dreams have I heard you scream
“Do it all again”
Only to disappoint you?”

“About the World” builds momentum and seamlessly segues into track two, “Falling”. And just like that, we’ve got some impressive Prog style metal happening. Everything about this track is fantastic. Lyrics, riffs, and hooks. It’s one of the strongest tracks on an album that offers up several contenders.

“I’ve lost touch with everything
Who I am, where I’m going”

Lyrically, there’s a constant theme, one that seems to “slip” in and out, before concluding with “Rainbow’s End”, the album’s closing track. Concept album?
Maybe so, maybe not. Perhaps it’s up to the listener to decide.

Yet, before we get there, there’s much more to highlight. “Out Of Parts” hit me with the first guitar leads from Taylor that really make you take notice how good a player he is. Great tone, tempered restraint, yet forceful when it’s needed. Robbie Carvalho is basically taking leads himself on the bass. It’s intricate, complicated progressions, and it’s absolutely stunning. Carvalho is definitely a man of many talents as well. Not only is he on bass here, but he’s also the monster behind the kit. See, Taylor and Carvalho also moonlight in WITCHES OF GOD, on guitar and drums respectfully. This duo is unfathomably talented, and this becomes more apparent each and every track. Musically, the Prog aspect is the prominent genre here, but there’s much more happening under the surface as songs such as “In Circles” and “Queenslip” demonstrate. As “The Mirror” progresses, it becomes very apparent that Taylor and Carvalho have significant Classic Rock and Classic Metal influences at play here, with RUSH being a common denominator. Canadian band, influenced by RUSH. Who would have thought it possible? Forget the cliché. It absolutely works.

Vocally, I really, really love Taylor’s presentation throughout the album. It enhances and compliments the music, and obviously vocals in a “clean” style presentation such as this really impact and enhance the importance of the lyrics. On the tracks “In Circles” and “The Last Time”, Carvalho adds harmonies that really fortify the overall feel of the vocals.

The aforementioned “Rainbow’s End” concludes the album with a fury. Presented with a controlled and measured fervency, Taylor’s vocals are full of passion and importance. And again, musically there is just so much happening here. Something new and different jumps out with each subsequent listen.

“If you don’t fit into this world
It’s because you’re supposed to change it”

It’s a song that gets into your head and stays there. In a good way. I can’t express how impressive this album was to me. It has been in a near constant rotation for me with the likes of the new YOB and KHEMMIS. It’s one of those that you want to stand on the mountaintop and shout out its merits to the world.

The CD of “The Mirror” looks to be a limited pressing and is available via Bandcamp. If you’re even vaguely interested, I would suggest checking it out while you can.

Songwriting:   10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. About The World
2. Falling
3. Out of Parts
4. Remember
5. In Circles
6. Queenslip
7. The Last Time
8. The Mirror
9. Rainbow’s End
Jason Taylor – Guitars / Vocals
Robbie Carvalho – Bass / Drums / Vocals
Record Label: Retro Futurist Records


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