Phil Gatrell, Romsey, England
18th February 2015
Album review: MIRE – Inward Outward – http://mire.bandcamp.com/
I picked up this album after a few hours of sifting the sands of Bandcamp for a nugget of gold. I located the band by searching through music tagged with ‘Tool’. After passing over several bands that had Maynard Keenan karaoke over quirky timing signatures, I came upon the artistic collective known as MIRE. For those of you not familiar with the band, they are a super talented five-piece, hailing from Montreal, Canada. Upon first listening, obvious Tool comparisons can be drawn, which makes complete and utter sense of the Bandcamp tag! Suffice to say, if you are a fan of the Lateralus/10,000 Days era Tool, then there is a very strong chance you’re going to love this record. Comparisons are thrown about carelessly in a time that it is desperately hard for artists to create original music, so please don’t think that for one second I’m suggesting this is some form of Tool tribute band. In this day in age, what band can’t be compared to a musical forefather, or be cited as being inspired by echoes from the past? Furthermore, I can’t think of many better bands to be compared with. Enough about Tool and on to MIRE, who have created a truly brilliant album with Inward Outward.
The album slides into gear with ‘Complex’, which serves to demonstrate the band’s collective musical capabilities straight from the album’s inception. The title is in no way misleading and gives you a strong sense of the band’s identity, as well as what the terrain is going to look like on this musical journey. The early pinched harmonic told me these guys are serious about playing and the album opener ruthlessly sways and alternates in tempo to the point that it feels like your subconscious is swimming in an aural Jazuzzi. Try listening to this one properly; led down, eyes closed and with senses immersed in the flight path of the sounds waves. It’s a truly glorious experience.
Tyyranicide is a little more punchy than the album opener, but is in no way less complex than Complex! This track features a stunning vocal chorus that resonates genuine emotion and ferocious energy. The layers of guitars are more aggressive on this track and are complimented by an onslaught of vocals that serve to hit home a strong vocal message behind Tyrannicide. This is an absolute monster of a track.
Limitless Pt.1 follows and takes a few revs off the pace, slowing the tempo with subtle guitar licks, piano chords, harmonised vocals and some beautiful accompanying percussion. This track really does showcase the vocal talents of JP LaChapelle, who fronts this Maple Leaf Masterpiece. The track is a slow burner and briefly launches into gear before simmering down gently lead us into Pt.2.
Limitless Pt.2 serves to compliment Pt.1 and is a wonderful continuation from Pt.1. The vocal talents of JP LaChapelle bleed from the tweeters from the outset and it’s fair to say that both Limitless Pt.1 and 2 are both musical vehicles for Chapelle, who is the driving force and focal point behind both of these stunning works of art.
Despite being 18 minutes and 4 tracks into the album, it feels like the album is still minty fresh by the time the opening riff to Convolution is introduced. The opening section of the track has a gloriously tight, but lackadaisical drum beat. I hate to use a term that is so often misused in modern society, but there is a effortless swagger in the rhythm department on Convolution. Stephane Boileau’s percussion on this track is outrageously good, as well as bursting with versatility. Stephane is giving us a full tour around the kit and let me tell you now, you’ll be booking a return trip before you’ve even got half way into this one. This track features one of the more memorable vocal hooks from the record, with the reflective and thought provoking line “Look the beast in the eye, now that beast is I.” There is a glorious primal roar on this track that anchors a powerful musical onslaught as the track draws to a climactic finale. As with Complex and Tyrannicide, I was immediately reaching to restart the track as soon as it came to its close, such was my greed to re-consume the musical smorgasbord that I’d just devoured.
Catalan Atlas features tireless guitar work from Dave Massicotte and Bruno Choinard, who selflessly and effortlessly provide the current in the river of sound for this track. The maintenance of the razor sharp rhythm section of this track is truly outstanding, as the track gently ebbs and flows. Once again, this track is a musical journey and the structure of the song breaks the standard conventions associated with most rock and metal songs. The journey is unpredictable and this is something that is extremely engaging for the listener throughout the whole body of work on this record. You find your ear searching for direction in the dark, and by the time you reach the conclusion of the song, you are left wondering how you got there, as well as feeling a warm sense of satisfaction and gratification, before immediately getting back in line to do it all over again.
Mantra Cymactic is the most curious track on the record and feels more of a muse than a song. There is a haunting quality to the track and the American Native style vocal patterns are intriguing and mildly hypnotic. The focus and deep emotive quality of the track is delightfully punctuated by a somewhat unexpected proclamation from JP LaChappelle of “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself.”
Open Circle leads off with an agitated percussion and guitar stand off, with both contributors dancing round one another like Capoeira masters. The song takes a slightly more conventional route than some of the previous offerings on the album, but make no mistake, that takes nothing from the calibre of another piece of musical brilliance. The mid-section of the song eases the tempo and decelerates the track with some sombre keys and a beautifully crafted guitar section. Some of the more cathartic elements of the guitar work can be found on this track and there are subtle hints of A Perfect Circle in small pockets of this song.
Upheaval signs off the album and is something of an industrial sound scape that feel like it wouldn’t have been out of place in one of the more suspense heightening moments from one of the Saw movies. This track is genuinely unnerving and through headphones, I was expecting something pretty nasty to sign this one off, but instead, a haunting whisper instructs us to “Awaken”, not once, but twice, before disappearing into silence. Profound.
In summary, this album is utterly brilliant. The entire journey takes the listener on a path that twists and turns unpredictably and to that end, could be compared with some of the works of Pink Floyd or Yes in terms of structure and unpredictability. The musical composition is fabulous and far more aggressive and heavy than either of the aforementioned bands from days gone by. Each listen of the album brings a new gem, a new find and a new experience that continues to leave me feeling supremely gratified and hungry for the next listen. I can’t recommend this album highly enough.
I strongly implore anyone who finds their eye wandering across these words to purchase this wonderful album via Bandcamp, whereby these hard working and wonderfully talented artists in MIRE can receive a small level of payment for all of their hard work, talent, vision and emotional commitment to produce this album for us all to experience and enjoy forever.