Thursday, October 29, 2009


Mike Phillips has just released his debut solo album. You'll know him as the lead guitar player of Deliverance. This release is entitled ‘Mirror Within Mirrors’ and it’s a monster! With guest performances by artists such Jim Chaffin (Crucified, Fasedown), Mark Solomon (Crucified, Stavesacre), Jimmy Brown (Deliverance, Jupiter VI), Devin Shaeffer (Fasedown, Once Dead), Matt Davis (Oh Sleeper), Bill Bachman (Neal Morse) and Scott Waters (Ultimatum, Once Dead) this album is sure to please.

One of the strengths on this release is the different styles of MUSIC that appear here. Notice I didn’t say styles of METAL but MUSIC. Is there metal? Yes!! Are there vast acoustic pieces? Yes!! Are there elements of progressive/experimental rock/metal? Yes!! Are there moments of praise and worship? Yes!! One moment your mom could be listening with you and the next moment the kids down the street will.

Mike has assembled quite the array of influences and avenues to express them. This is a musical journey through the heart of an artist that refuses to be pinned into one genre or style. However throughout this disc Mike’s tasteful guitar playing is highlighted. There are many layers present that you really must listen to in order to appreciate what is before you.

Opener ‘All I Ever Wanted’ starts with a metallic bang, yet it is still unconventional. The melodies are there but not always what you might expect. The second and third tracks are long epic type pieces. Track two entitled ‘Mirrors Within Mirrors Part 1’has four different movements. Vocals are provided by Devin Schaeffer and Mark Solomon. Clocking in at over 9 minutes lots of musical terrain is covered in this first of two multi-movement pieces. Shaeffer really belts it out and commands your attention.

Track three entitled ‘Mirrors Within Mirrors Part II’ starts with an acoustic type intro before it starts a slow build. Clocking in at over 15 minutes it races through different time components and musical interludes. It reminds me of say Tourniquet or Believer in the technical department. However Mike is not afraid to show off some strong feeling in some of the different interludes as well. In the sixth movement of this song Jimmy P Brown provides a subtle but wonderful vocal performance that compliments this movement beautifully. In some ways these two songs remind me of 'Thistles' on Deliverance's 'As Above So Below' release.

The production is clean and powerful. The production highlights the elements of the performance without being a distraction. A fantastic acoustic guitar sound was captured that is warm and rich. One of my favorite pieces is ‘Always Remember.’ Stellar acoustic playing that reminds me of Eric Johnson at times. The type of song I would hear on a cold rainy day, with my coffee in hand sitting on my couch reading a book. There are many moments of musical introspection that lend themselves to a deeper spiritual plane.

If you’re hoping to find 60 minutes of blistering Fasedown/Deliverance style metal you might be sorrowly disappointed. There is metal here, no doubt about that (including a cover of Deliverance’s “It’s the Beat” with Scott Waters on lead vocal!) Yet if you’re looking for a musical adventure that takes many alternate paths this release is for you. A piece of mature art for mature people.

8 axes

No comments: