Space Mirrors - Stella Polaris
Atomic Age Records
Space Rock-influenced heavy metal
12 songs (75' 56")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

The third installment in Space Mirrors' Lovecraft-based "Cosmic Horror Trilogy", Stella Polaris, is the heaviest and darkest yet. I enjoyed the last two albums in keyboardist Alisa Coral's project, but after the first few listens, at least, this one is becoming my favorite. The staccato delivery is still there, as are the spaced-out instrumental breaks and occasionally brilliant melodies, but the mood is darker and the guitars are heavier. This is definitely the most metal-oriented of the three albums.

For those who haven't read HP Lovecraft stories, about half are true horror stories and the other half are more like Lord Dunsany-esque fairy tales (Dunsany being one of Lovecraft's biggest influences), though these genres cross over with each other. Space Mirrors songs cover both, but there is a different feel to each song which directly matches the subject matter of the stories referenced. Haunter of the Dark is quiet, furtive, with a hint of menace, while Celephaïs has a bright tone to it with more of a melody and guitar soloing. Martyr Lucifer's deep, gothic-style clean vocals (imagine a sound similar to Moonspell's Fernando Ribeiro) are blocky, with a bit of an accent, and are subject of ranging from harsh and menacing on some of the more horror-oriented tracks to soft, gentle, and rather retro on Dream Quest tracks like White Ship. Some songs barely have a melody at all -- the title track is dissonant and less focused than the rest of the album normally is -- but (A Passer) Through the Storm, based on one of Lovecraft's lesser-known works about a degenerate family, is extremely catchy on the chorus.

The greatest departure from the usually chugging beat is on Burning Chaplet, and this is one of the strongest pieces on the album, despite its somewhat offbeat rhythmic arrangement that often sounds like half the band -- especially the guitar section -- expected this to be another mid-tempo beat rather than a ballad. It's confused and dreamlike, a cross between a child's lullaby and a bard's tale with Lucifer singing softly...and then the beat changes and gets faster and heavier while Coral's synths take a turn. Like other tracks on the album, The Crawling Chaos has just the right mood to match the lyrics well, and the minimalistic acoustic guitar matches Coral's array of keyboards and Lucifer's breathy whisper to create a combination of surprising delicacy, even if the track's a bit indulgent at eleven minutes. As a finale, the hidden track (I think it's hidden; it's not on the album's track list) that is after The Master returns to the chaotic, garage-style sound of much of the rest of the album at a fast pace.

Stella Polaris ends the Cosmic Horror Trilogy with a final album that is now nearly devoid of pop stylings and boosts the heaviness level to new heights, while keeping the catchy tunes of its two predecessors. Finishing up the trilogy on a high point, this turned out to be a very enjoyable listen.

Killing Songs :
Haunter of the Dark, (A Passer) Through the Storm, Burning Chaplet
Andy quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Space Mirrors that we have reviewed:
Space Mirrors - The Other Gods reviewed by Andy and quoted 88 / 100
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