MIRAR‘s Mare is the romanticism-centric alter ego of the legendary Vildhjarta that we never knew we needed until now.

Release date: June 10, 2024 | Independent | Bandcamp

The godfathers of djent, Meshuggah, gave rise to a whole subgenre (or playstyle depending on who you ask) of metal with most modern bands incorporating influences of this style into their music to this very day. Out of all these bands, Vildhjarta stand apart from the rest and have even inspired their own sub-subgenre of music referred to as ‘thall’. This particular style of music is far from being easily replicable and as a consequence, many bands out there are unsuccessfully trying to capture that lightning in a bottle that only Vildhjarta can effortlessly achieve. With all the thall clones out there (of which, let me tell you, there are many), there is only one I find has been able to hold a candle to our dearly beloved, and that is MIRAR.

MIRAR is a fresh two-piece out of France, who has started releasing one-off singles since just last year and have built quite a reputation through those musical ‘samples’. Only now have they released their first EP, Mare, and it is indeed a sound to behold. If it wasn’t already obvious, of the many thall artists/bands that exist, virtually non, have been able to maintain my interest beyond an initial listen. As dense and ‘monotonous’ as this style of music can be (mainly due to the heavy reliance on syncopated and overly technical chugfests), the major hurdle that is faced is that these artists fail to add anything more into the music and end up being nothing but unimpressive attempts at being carbon copies of a different band; usually the riffs don’t even compare either so it’s even less satisfying than what it should be. It is an extremely fine line trying to intentionally sound like a different, inimitable band (which is the inherent goal of thall after all – ha!) while having its own distinctive personality in parallel and MIRAR are the first to demonstrate that potential for greatness.

Each and every track on Mare hits you like a category 5 hurricane. Upon the first playthrough, I felt like a kid in a candy shop discovering thall/Vildhjarta for the very first time, except it isn’t Vildy but something else entirely. “Rose Bonbon” left my jaw completely agape during the passage that begins just after the one-minute mark; the choppy instrumentals allowing for just enough space for the glitchy ambient effects to sneak through is immensely gratifying to experience. “Hestehov” has some maniacal pitch-shifts that sound like an alien transmission, all on top of a stellar closing outro riff slightly reminiscent to a sped up version of the outro riff in “den helige anden” (which would be heard in “brännmärkt”, funnily enough). Like the music of Vildjharta, MIRAR’s viciously rabid tunes gives the false confidence that I could actually fight and cut the throat of God himself (totally unrelated but new Ulcerate bangs).

While MIRAR’s Mare is the rare case of exciting thall that isn’t Vildhjarta, repeat listens bring out the fact that this band is still in its infancy and has plenty of room to grow. With the exception of the tender piano and ambience opening up “Rachma” and closing out the EP with “Cauchemar”, the rest of the music on Mare is nothing but unrelentingly filthy instrumentation; riff salad if you will. Compositionally, nearly every track at multiple points goes from one complex idea/rhythm to the next without even letting the previous passage digest or develop tension in any way; MIRAR simply refuses to elaborate after forcing the listener to defecate themselves purely out of shock due to a given musical passage. The silver lining to this means that there are so many exceptionally entertaining moments heavily sprinkled throughout Mare, but they’ll pass you by in an instant before you even get to sink your teeth into them.

With these songs being as dense as they are, it’d be the icing on the cake if MIRAR capitalized more on the negative space and stretched out or included more atmospheric sections. This would allow the songs to breathe more and direct focus towards their eerily bleak electronic and subtle classical elements that give them their unique character in the first place. Although this is only a brief EP, I’d love to see more variety in song compositions, say in a hypothetical full-length for example. In that hypothetical LP, mixing in some songs that build on a central motif, others that are a winding journey that develop/release tension, and then some instrumentally turbulent tracks such as the ones heard on Mare.

Yes, there may have been too many mentions and direct comparisons to Vildhjarta here, but that is what thall is all about, is it not? Being compared directly to such a band in a positive light in a subgenre (one that has a very clear purpose in mind), is one of the best compliments that you could ever receive. Whilst simultaneously paying homage to our thall overlords in the truest of fashions, MIRAR are the first to successfully start pushing against the boundaries of what can be achieved within this niche genre. Mare shows that MIRAR have the foundation, that being the chops and the vision, to take it to the next level with successive releases as they further establish their sound.

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