|Musical Style: Progressive Doom Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 56:27|
Cousins Jakob Forsberg and Erick Mjornell initially put Mirador together in Sweden in the early nineties only to place the band on hold for five years. Reforming in the fall of 2003, Mirador subsequently signed to Rivel Records when Christian Rivel heard demo versions of the songs “Perfect Plan” and “Soul Distortion”. I might describe the bands 2005 full length Rivel Records debut The Azrael Tales as a melodic but doom-like combination of the epic and progressive that draws up influences as diverse as Candlemass, Veni Domine, Black Sabbath, Queensryche and System Breakdown.
Forsberg contributes an emotionally tinged but slightly raspy melodic flavored vocal style. As a keyboardist, he accentuates the bands sound with just the right amount of texture without coming across heavy handed. Mjornell puts in place a bedrock of dark and heavy rhythm guitar and blends it with lead guitar work that at times can come across fast and fiery and at others in a slower and more blues based direction. Olaf Gardestrands fills in on drums, while Mjornell rounds out the rhythm section on bass.
While The Azrael Tales ended up being a low budget project, its production values are quite laudable in giving prominence to crisp and refined sounding sonics. Plenty of crunchy rhythm guitar stands alongside a near perfect mix of lead guitar and keyboards. Due to a slight touch of muddiness in the low end, however, the drums often struggle to stand out in the mix.
The album cover, featuring an angel with a sword over a black background, is plain but effective in portraying the Archangel Azrael. Please that the packaging fails to list the musicians who performed on the album. (This information is available at the bands website.)
"Redeemer" opens the album to the sound of beeping as the rhythm guitar gradually fades into a place of prominence in the mix. Advancing through its first verse at an upbeat tempo, an organ highlights the song during its second before a Marilyn Manson-like riff leads the way to a strong anthem-like chorus. While quite solid from a musical standpoint, the only drawback to the song comes in the form of its lack of an instrumental passage.
Set in motion by an upfront mix of rhythm guitar, "Phoenix Syndrome" slows to a near crawl at the start of its first verse as the rhythm guitar takes a backseat in the mix. The rhythm guitar returns to the songs forefront as it gains momentum and flows to a strong emotionally charged chorus. Mjornell displays a very fine touch on lead guitar throughout an instrumental passage coming in at a minute and a half. On “Phoenix Syndrome” the band makes a statement of faith:
Where you go I follow blindly and faithful
The paths you show me I won’t hesitate to take
No more weeping, the past is left behind
Nor shall I grief again, the master takes my hand
The rhythm guitar fading in and out of the mix during the introduction to "No Loss Cut" is perfectly accentuated by Mjornell's lead guitar. After the song picks up in pace for its first verse, a muscular guitar riff pushes it to a chorus carried by Forsberg's passionate vocal delivery. "No Loss Cut" slows to a near standstill to a quietly played guitar line only to regains its momentum and breaks for several seconds of fiery lead guitar work.
The quietly played guitar line initiating "Postbelievers" transitions to a driving guitar riff and a heavy duty bass line, the two propelling the song at a mid-tempo pace to an epic flavored chorus backed by choir-like vocal harmonies. Following its second chorus, the song tapers off to a slowly played guitar line that gives way to several seconds of bluesy lead guitar as Forsberg screams in the background.
"Perfect Plan" takes off in up-tempo fashion before slowing to a punchy bass line at the start of its first verse, the rhythm guitar kicking in at the start of the second conveying the song in a catchy manner to a chorus underscored by just the right amount of rapid double bass. Mjornell displays his abundant talent by contributing thirty seconds of blistering lead guitar work.
The rhythm guitar at the start of "Soul Distortion" gives way to an acoustic guitar upon reaching its first verse, an ethereal mix of piano and bass carrying the song through the second until the rhythm guitar fades in and takes it to a sweeping chorus with a huge infectious hook. A combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards drives a forty-five second instrumental passage. The lyrics here require no further explanation:
Beyond the promised land, the flame within my hands
The scars from battles won reveal the chosen one
I know the truth in time will show, so won’t you come?
So you once believed the story told, that I use to search that melting pot below?
The charm with me, the constant urge to save another soul
The urge to save another soul
"The Trial" begins to a combination of rhythm guitar and double bass before slowing to an open air rhythm guitar, an even guitar driven pace maintained as the song progresses to a chorus delivered in grand and stately fashion. A combination of rhythm guitar and vocal harmonies opens a minute long instrumental passage bolstered by Mjornell's melodic flavored lead guitar work.
The exquisite blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards commencing "Thief" fades to a slowly moving doom-like riff reinforced by a prominent bass line. Opening its first verse at a driving mid-tempo pace, "Thief" proceeds with a plethora of emotional energy prior to attaining a superlative chorus with a sublime feel. A majestic blend of acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies gives way to Mjornell's blazing lead guitar work.
After "New Day" gets underway to a driving riff buttressed by keyboards that fade in and out of the mix, the rhythm guitar moves to the songs forefront and impels it forward hard and heavy. "New Day" attains a resounding melodic flavored chorus before flowing to an instrumental passage featuring an inspired guitar solo underlined by the same riff and keyboards opening it. “New Day” talks about exactly that:
See the new day, the angels did not weep in vain for the final battle
See the new world, when heaven sings aloud and the lamb greets
our day with his laughter
I believe, yes I believe
And if you fail to see the world of men will fall
When all the treasures you gathered are gone you keep minding the call
Heed all the words so long written down
Held to the wisdom found
An eclectic combination of acoustic guitar and keyboards pushes "Metropolis Metamorphosis" ahead until the rhythm guitar abruptly takes over hard and heavy. Continuing to advance through its first verse in a hard hitting manner, the song only pauses prior to attaining a stylish chorus underscored by a crunchy rhythm guitar. The acoustic guitar and keyboards return to carry the song over its final two minutes.
From front to back The Azrael Tales is characterized by a high level of consistency and continuity in that each of its ten tracks holds up under repeated play. Jakob Forsberg and Erik Mjornell, in addition, deserve a great deal of credit for the high caliber musicianship found throughout the album. And while the production values to The Azrael Tales are quite solid, a weak drum sound proves the only detracting factor. In the end, the album deserves to rank with the other top notch early 2005 Rivel Records releases from Audiovision (The Calling) and Divinefire (Glory Thy Name).
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Redeemer" (5:27), "Phoenix Syndrome" (5:46), "No Loss Cut" (4:43), "Post Believers" (5:46), "Perfect Plan" (4:15), "Soul Distortion" (6:54), "The Trial" (5:08), "Thief" (5:45), "New Day" (5:50), "Metropolis Metamorphosis" (6:48)
Jakob Forsberg – Lead Vocals & Keyboards
Erick Mjornell – Guitars & Bass
Olaf Gardestrands - Drums