Release: December 2020
Label: Earth and Sky Productions
Compilation albums can be fairly tricky, while in many cases they can contain hidden gems and unheard content from one’s favorite bands, they can frequently be a shameless cash-grab without the decency of giving the fans or occasionally even the bands a part of the deal. In the case of the latter are examples like the 2004 Guns ‘n Roses compilation and the Cruachan best-of, but in those cases the band wasn’t directly responsible for the effort. Usually when a band is responsible for works such as this it ends up going the Blind Guardian route with lots of remixes and alternate versions of classic songs. Now, as always, these “bonus track” compilations are geared towards fans, and in the case of Mirrors and Echoes, what Gods Tower has put on offer will clearly be less of a hit if you aren’t a dedicated fan of their previous efforts. With that out of the way, here’s the breakdown of the album.
The intro is actually quite good, it’s got a raw but distorted and atmospheric feel. But following the intro immediately is a remix of “Roll Out”, which is just way too happy compared to the original. Rest assured, it does have those powerful riffs, and heavy drums but fundamentally this version is neither as dark nor as aggressive as the original version. It sounds like a pub rock Power Metal anthem, and while that isn’t a bad thing (many frequent readers may know about my soft spot for Power Metal), it’s just interesting to think that such a drastic change in the sound of a track can be achieved by a mere remix. Somehow that just makes the track feel overproduced by virtue of the editing’s drastic influence over the song.
“Liar” picks up with a more raw sounding guitar tone, much like the intro but less dark. This track however has more of the Doom Metal feel early Gods Tower albums had, but this time around it has that ambient, mellow sound of some newer Doom bands. Overall, nothing too abrasive or heavy, despite the overwhelming potential of the musical setup.
Next is a Nokturnal Mortum cover, and ironically enough, this is the heaviest the studio tracks will go (we’ll get to the live tracks later). The vocals are actually the high point on this track, sounding like top-grade Death Metal roars more than the Black Metal rasps or the gravelly singing on the rest of the album. The bass-lines are particularly evil sounding, but what brings this song down is the rapid-fire drum beats throughout the song. Perhaps it’s just the production, but the drums are so crisp they border on sounding like a drum machine, but they’re not bad persay, so listeners with no strong convictions about drum machines will be able to better enjoy the sheer ferocity of this track without distraction.
“Field of the Dead” follows. This track is a ballad, probably dealing with valkyries looking for the brave warriors to usher into Valhalla. What makes these lyrics so excellent is they can objectively be interpreted in different ways. Or in other words, as opposed to divided opinions about song meanings, here it can either go an ode to the dead, a lament to bravery, a song about valkyries, a tribute to a classical composition (which is what it was apparently written as), and all these would be true as well as none of them. Other than the lyrics, as mentioned, plays like a classical piece, generally with the same atmosphere as Iced Earth’s “When the Eagle Cries”. Not very Metal musically, but it has a certain poetic charm (and not just the lyrics).
The video edit of “Poisondog” is one of the heavier tracks as well, and is slightly more simplistic than the Nokturnal Mortum cover but is nearly on par in terms of heaviness, and while it gets highly repetitive the energy and attack of the music keeps it enjoyable through sheer momentum. With this track, as with the others, it will most likely be appreciated most by those listeners familiar with the original version, seeing as this is a “video edit”.
As for the next track, entitled “Liudzi Na Balocie”, listeners will find themselves faced with the classic dilemma of a delicate anthemic track that sounds like it could was performed at a majestic opera house – except the vocalist is gargling gravel. While Lesley Knife’s singing style on this track is a staple of Metal and is performed well to boot, it unfortunately feels slightly out of place when one considers that he does have a vocal range that includes clean singing even within the confines of this album. In this case it comes down to taste, but listeners will have to decide for themselves if whether a complimentary singing style wouldn’t add more to the track.
Two indisputably Metal tracks follow “Liudzi Na Balocie”, the first of these is “Heroes Die Young”. This track opens with typical soaring leads backed by heavy riffs one would expect to see in Metal. Melodies are catchy, there’s some repetitive moments, but overall the song thrives by merit of being some of the more exciting material thus far. “Heroes Die Young” is followed by the bass driven “Rising Arrows”, and said bass lines are part of what make this song incredible. The riffs on “Rising Arrows” are done by bass while the guitar plays intricate melodies around the singular bass line. Eventually the guitars start taking center stage as the vocals kick in singing a hymn to the sun. On this track, the tempo is down from “Heroes Die Young” and fortunately the music is still fairly interesting.
Next is a Bathory cover, “Song for the Hall Up High” and four live tracks, one of which being a live version of “Heroes Die Young”. Listeners who are looking into Mirrors and Echoes as a sampling of Gods Tower content will be glad to hear that not only are these live songs good quality and fairly high-fidelity renditions of the studio tracks, but the live tracks also do not have crowd-work that deters from playing the tracks individually and separately on playlists or on shuffle. And this selection is also some of their heavier works, including one of their older tracks, “Mysterious” as a closer.
All in all, Mirrors and Echoes is a good sampling of Gods Tower music. It can’t be said to be rare or unreleased because many of the songs on this album are some of their hits. Fortunately however, many fans from the band will be impressed with some of the selections of music on offer, it would just be slightly more impressive if all of the tracks were remixes or alternative versions, but sometimes a band just needs support during hard times. So take some time to listen to Mirrors and Echoes and also give the original versions a listen, because that helps put these recordings into perspective.
- Intro / Mirrors And Echoes 01:29
- Roll Out (remix 2020) 05:05
- Liar 06:19
- Srebra Pieruna (Nokturnal Mortum cover) 04:50
- The Field of the Dead 06:15
- Poisondog (video edit) 03:58
- Ludzi na balocie (Belarussian version) 07:16
- Heroes Die Young 05:10
- Rising Arrows 04:25
- Song to Hall Up High (Bathory cover) 02:45
- Roll Out (Live in Mir Castle) 04:54
- Earth, Wind, Fire & Blood (Live in Mir Castle) 03:56
- Heroes Die Young (Live in Mir Castle) 04:56
- Mysterious (Live in Mir Castle) 03:51