(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
It is the band’s follow-up to their 2015 effort, Scaffolds Of The Sky, and finds former guitarist Phil Moon replaced by Morgan McDaniel (ex-The Golden Grass). He joins founding guitarist / vocalist Kenny Sehgal, bassist James Corallo, and drummer Jeremy O’Brien in their pursuit of presenting the finest progressive, NWOBHM-tinted, metallic proto, rock and roll.
That pursuit has never been better than it is right this instant for Mirror Queen. “Verdigris” is a six song, 41-minute quest for the magically infused sonic Zen of halcyon-like musicdom. Fueled by their relentlessly solid, underlying rhythmic foundations, these songs provide ample headroom for the pair of guitarists to explore.
From the chunky unfurling of opening track “Poignard“, the bar is set high with music best described sounding like The Sword-meets-Iron Maiden. Even that fails to properly relay the high energy output delivered here. The soaring vocals and explosive six-string pyrotechnics cement the song firmly into your skull.
I have discovered that you never really know what to expect within a Mirror Queen song’s content. One minute, metal… the next, lysergic-like, psychedelic, prog rock perhaps. Both styles are fully traversed in such phenomenal selections as “Flying Eyes” and superbly stellar “Starliner“. The latter’s sparse, wispy vocal sections floating upon the magnetic guitars beneath them is pure bliss.
In fact, some sections, even some entire songs, are the pinnacle of aural beauty and total tranquility. The hypnotic title song “Verdigris” is a superb, sonic ritual in progress that produces the finest in purified tranquility. Its hazy passages offset with forward-moving, yet vintage, classic rock-in-feel, musical vibes.
For my own personal tastes, two numbers provide the best bang for my buck. It just so happens that each is undoubtedly on the heavier side of things. They are the nearly eight and a half-minute “Sorrow’s End/Dark Kiss Of The Sun” and album-closing “Curse The Night“.
The first is a harrowing dive into a styling best labeled ‘Acid Doom’. It has dark, mind-blowing elements that chug and chip away at any sense of tranquil peacefulness you may have derived elsewhere on the record. All the while, you will find yourself unwavering in your investment to navigate the track until its inevitable end.
“Curse The Night” arrives with some stark, bleak doom nuances too, at least at first. The monolithic riffs propelling its start resonate with a southern feel to them. Things slowly build in pressure, gradually flowing over into a deluge of fret gymnastics and undiluted energy. I especially dig O’Brien and Corallo’s contribution to the song, as the pair once again provide the rhythmic palette upon which Sehgal and McDaniel paint.
All in all, “Verdigris” undoubtedly reinforces certain shared notions that Mirror Queen are one of hard rock’s most underappreciated acts. Over the span of three albums now, the band has repeatedly obliterated mediocrity with their incendiary explorations. Their broad, limitless scope of skill and playing shines with such brilliance it can blind those less enlightened.
Yes, Mirror Queen provides progressive rock that is “light” years ahead of what most average bands, and fans, are able to absorb.