Mountain Mirrors is the second album by Jeffrey Sanders, but he also enlisted the help of several musicians for richer and more varied compositions. Mountain Mirrors is often described as "heavy acoustic music from the woods of Massachusetts", and after listening to this disc, you'll know why.
The slightly folky acoustic guitars, sweet drum cadences, subtle keyboard sounds, and most importantly Sanders' otherwordly vocals, when combined, do invite comparisons to names like Opeth, Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, and even Alice In Chains' unplugged material, but overall, the music presented on this disc is in a league all its own. Having never heard the first Mountain Mirrors disc, I have no idea how this one differst from it, but rest assured that the songwriting and musicianship is top-notch, with some of the most beautifully grey melodies you'll hear. "Stay Evil", a dark and punishing song, kicks the CD off, allowing haunting lyrics ("Burn - burn away the haze!") to ride over a forlorn acoustic melody that is eventually accentuated by the addition of keys, drums, and Drake-like melancholic vocals. In the second half, the song charts 70's prog territory, picking up synths and guitar solos. Much like the opening track, "The Demon's Eye" continues in a similar fashion, but the lyrics are even darker and more poetic. Elad Pish's trumpets and percussion work shine over sombre piano notes that contrast decidedly heavier guitar riffs. Cymbals crash vehemently in the background as Sanders utters the words: "On black wings flies...the Demon's Eye / Dancing on your grave / your soul can't be saved / you'll always be a slave..." before the band delves into an intense outro section, displaying first-rate instrumental ability.
Beneath "Karmic Dogs" is planted a demented electronic patch along with quirky echoic sounds generated through majestic keyboard playing and a nice cello motif is utilised at the end to give the song its deserved climactic ending. There is also more cello to hear on the extremely bleak "Calm Before the Storm", possibly Sanders evoking Drake like never before. Special mention also goes to "Your Time Has Come", a very Opethian number, given its Damnation-like opening where startling acoustic guitars are joined by ominous piano and even analog synths floating above the whole piece like a dark cloud. Even Sanders sounds like Mikael Akerfeldt on this piece.
Without doubt, the most personal song on the album must be the closing track "Praying Mantis", a piece Sanders wrote after the passing of his grandfather. All instrumental, this was the first song he wrote for this album, and it ends the record on a very sad yet slightly hopeful note.
- Stay Evil
- The Demon's Eye
- Karmic Dogs
- Your Time Has Come
- Calm Before the Storm
- Alone in a Crowd
- Deploribus Unum
- Praying Mantis