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Smokey Mirror - s/t (Rise Above)

2 May 2023

What’s more amazing – that heavy psychedelic blues rock is a style that never goes away, or that in the right hands it never gets old? That latter case applies to Smokey Mirror. Led by singer/guitarist Mario Rodriguez, the Dallas quartet doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as polish it up, folding progressive rock and improvisational tendencies into hardcore boogie rock. That’s hardly new, but the energy and glee with which the band attacks their songs on their self-titled debut makes it all seem so. “Sacrificial Altar” rips and roars its intro before sinking into a pool of acid doom that drifts into spacy psych. “Magick Circle” rages through its catchy riffage for two-thirds of its runtime until it segues into hazy acid dreams of the uncontrollable jam. Though brief, “Alpha-State Dissociative Trance” crams a ton of prog rock changes into a small space, like it was created on the fly as the B-side to a 45. “A Thousand Days in the Forest” adds some jazz thrust to its 6/8 romp, while “Pathless Forest” bashes and crashes with enough force to nearly knock the band’s skills off-kilter. Having already proven themselves eager to explore any direction that makes sense, Smokey Mirror ends the LP with “Recurring Nightmare,” a jaunty classical guitar instrumental that keeps the album predictably unpredictable.