(This is Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by Denver-based Mire.)
As you may (or may not) have noticed, over the last several days I’ve covered quite a few “major” (or, at least, relatively major) albums/artists here at NCS, and left the more underground stuff to my colleagues, co-writers, and contributors.
However, in an attempt to redress that balance somewhat (as well as to salve my stinging conscience) I’ve decided that my final review of the week should be dedicated to something new, but much less well-known, which is what brings us to this perfect little piece of prodigious Prog-Death wizardry courtesy of Denver duo Mire.
At a taut thirty-three minutes (and change), Shed blurs the line between long EP and short album, and while this basically guarantees that it never threatens to overstay its welcome (despite all its proggy intricacies it never falls into the trap of being excessively convoluted or over-indulgent), it also reveals the record’s one flaw… there’s simply not enough of it!
Of course this is probably a bit of a churlish complaint to make, as messrs. Glisan (guitars) and McKibben (vocals) have otherwise knocked it right out of the park with the six songs presented here, but I can’t help but feel like one more track would potentially have pushed this over the line from “fantastic debut” to “potential classic”.
Still, when literally the only issue you have with a release is that it leaves you wanting more, you know you’re onto a winner.
Opener “Lightless” is as strong a statement of intent as any I’ve heard in quite some time, galloping out of the gates in a fearless display of chunky, chugging riffage and subtly progressive melodic touches, all arranged in an extremely dynamic form which balances hooky heaviness and subtle technicality in equal measure, and topped off with an intriguing blend of barking harsh vocals and moody clean-sung melodies which reminds me quite a bit of God Forbid at their best.
The twisted guitar work and churning grooves of the title track up the initial energy levels even further, with the song’s mix of spiky riffs, pneumatic rhythms, and hybrid clean/harsh vocals recalling the hideously underrated Progressive Death Metal might of Ageless Oblivion, while “The Suffering” goes for a more overtly proggy and introspective approach which recalls a more morose and melancholy take on early Black Crown Initiate with an extra dash of Cynic thrown in for good measure.
And while dropping so many names in quick succession might lead you to believe that Shed is some sort of half-baked derivative of other, bigger bands, in fact nothing could be further from the truth!
Yes, I’d imagine that fans of Slugdge, The Faceless, etc, as well as the above mentioned bands, will certainly find it very easy to fall head over heels for this one, but the fact is that Shed successfully sidesteps and transcends any potential accusations of plagiarism or piracy by cleverly remixing, reworking, and rearranging otherwise familiar pieces into new and unfamiliar patterns.
As a result, cuts like the restrained yet punchy proggery of “Solar Being” and the multifaceted “Inside” don’t so much redefine the existing paradigm as they do repurpose and retool it for their own ends, and by the time that the heavyweight riffs and haunting melodies of “A New Found Rain” bring the record to a close (all too soon in my opinion) you’ll probably find yourself wondering exactly why more bands aren’t capable of producing something this good.
UPDATE: Mire’s Shed is now on Bandcamp, and we’ve added that link and stream below.