REVIEW: THE WARLOCKS – The Mirror Explodes

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Reviewed for The Dwarf.

warlocksFor a decade now The Warlocks have been releasing albums of hypnotic drone and narcotic space rock that both challenge and stimulate the senses. Theirs is not the easiest music to become familiar with. It requires time, volume and and the willingness to let   place yourself at the mercy of their music and immerse yourself in its sonic waves.

The Mirror Explodes is their fifth album and it takes their sound into even hazier waters. Everything feels slow and funereal as if black and grey brushstrokes have been dragged across the vinyl, smearing the sound into a sleepy fuzz. ‘You Make Me Wait’, the most claustrophobic song on the album, has that dream-like quality where everything is detached and foggy like there is a gauze between your brain and everything around you.

Elsewhere they balance the senses with ‘There Is A Formula To Your Despair’ with its Mazzy Star shimmer and glowing ember slow burn intensity. It is the most beautiful moment on the record and it shows that when you get under the skin of The Warlocks there are different directions being explored.

Bobby Hecker (the core member of the group) is still intoning his mantras that drift toward the shadows with titles like ‘Slowly Disappearing’ and ‘Standing Between The Lovers Of Hell’. Hecker doesn’t possess the strongest of singing voices, something he acknowledges on their website when he lists himself as The Warlocks default singer. He does manage to extract enough pain and woe to convey his emotions which is all that is required because making out the words is a dead-end street.

‘Standing Between The Lovers Of Hell’ is another highlight when, mid song, a huge bass line is dropped onto the screeching guitars and brings everything into focus, It shows what a touch of sonic structure can do to a song and it almost feels like a relief to be able to sway along to the rhythm rather than just the nodding to the heavy-lidded vocals.

Their shoegaze influences are held up to the light on ‘The Midnight Sun’ with its My Bloody Valentine meets Straitjacket Fits wooziness and the krautrock is brought to the macabre party on the album closer ‘Static Eyes’. Pulsing drums and psyched out wah guitars wrestle for space as the song hurtles on into the darkness.

The Warlocks continue to mildly impress with The Mirror Explodes, never taking things to the next level where their audience will widen but still sticking to the game plan. Bands like Jesu and Isis are creating more satisfying music at the heavy end of the spectrum while Brightblack Morning Light and Beach House are bringing more to the softer side of psych music. It still remains to be seen if The Warlocks will find their true niche but on the evidence here they are slowly inching closer.

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