Verdigris is more commonly recognised as some kind of strange blue-green-science-thingy involving acid, copper and weather effects… Or something which Wikipedia/A Chemistry textbook/Websters Dictionary or any other useful reference material can explain much more eloquently and effectively than I can… So if you’re of the mindset of Dave Mustaine (i.e: “Science… Y’know, test tubes and shit) – go look elsewhere as the words I will be writing about this type of Verdigris won’t be relevant to you.
Obligatory attempt at witty expositions aside, Verdigris is the name of the current release of Brooklyn four piece Mirror Queen, once again on TeePee records, a label known for its reputation with bands who dabble in the psychedelic aspect of rock and what-nots. Last time out, their 2015 offering “Scaffold’s In The Sky” was rather well received. It was a great slice of mind-melting rock with the right amounts of classic rock kick and gratuitous worshipping of the almighty Blue Öyster Cult with how it came across sound and style wise. Verdigris follows in those footsteps. A six track, 41 minute long offering of what essentially can be surmised as ‘more of the same’.
But simply saying that doesn’t really give this album the dues it deserves. It’s got a very unique take on how it controls the atmosphere its sounds create. Opening track “Poignard” has a real vibrancy to it. All the balls to the wall, biker friendly 70’s rock and roll number which also possesses the pomposity and grandeur of the occult rock and doom genres. A strange bastardisation of BÖC, Kadavar, Desert Rock and Sabbathian tendencies. The infectious groove and rhythm with the airy vocals and melodic leads make it feel like the soundtrack for a journey in a classic Camaro through the Palm Springs desert regions. If that doesn’t get your attention, then the straight up regurgitation of mid 70’s BÖC magic on “Flying Eyes” will. An eight minute epic which takes all the elements we associate with the more prominent/well known tracks from that band I have name dropped several times already, and puts Mirror Queen’s own spin on it. Slick blues based soloing litters the track, showing some real tight playing and well executed compositional skills and the clever use of echo, delay and reverb effects make the whole thing sound a lot bigger than it is, giving it a real surrounding feel.
If the whole execution, composition and clever tricks don’t appeal to you, then the more exotic, Tool-esque moments on “Sorrow’s End/Dark Kiss Of The Sun” might be more relevant. The very cinematic quality of the sound which has that ancient Mediterranean vibe to it (You know the one.. watch any film about Greeks, Pharaohs or Romans from before the 80’s and you’ll know it!)and its leanings to the more psychedelic and mind bending end of things become a lot more prominent. Hypnotic in all aspects of its musical delivery, it really works well, building up a very vivid soundscape and dragging you through it on some musical adventure. In total contrast, “Starliner” is some straight up AOR goodness which would be a fantastic live offering. Its chant and clap friendly tempo, empowering drums and slightly rough round the edges but friendly for all audiences delivery makes it something which wouldn’t seem out of place on any radio station. Title track “Verdigris” is more like a refrain to the tail end of Starliner, so it has a lot of melodic and structural familiarities and callbacks, making it easy to just brush off, something you don’t really want in a title track and honestly, it’s the weakest track on the album for me.
Thankfully, “Curse The Night” wraps this up nicely. The classic Sabbathian styled riffing adds some chug and meat to the sound, along with darkening the atmosphere and bringing back that grandeur and flair Mirror Queen excel so much at. Raw rock and roll vibes, Blatant BÖC tributes, simplistic and melodic hooks a plenty and some bitchin’ guitar work which is all packaged together and delivered with a charismatic feel and vibrant pace which only endears it even more, especially in the final moments of the track where the iconic NWOBHM harmony lines come in to give it some drama for its curtain call… Long story short, it’s a fantastic track!
In all, it’s not ground-breaking, it’s very familiar and like the previous release, it’s extremely hard to distance Mirror Queen from BÖC which means that, to many, there isn’t much originality on Verdigris. I have to agree, whilst this is a musically pleasing album with only one dip in terms of track strength, the over familiarity and inability to recognise it as its own entity does mean the band have a huge task on future releases. I had good praise for “Scaffold’s” because it really appealed to me and was appreciated. Verdigris is much like its predecessor in that way. It appeals to me because I like the way they are delivering their music and what they come up with, even if it is Overly Familiar in more ways than one. The fact it’s rather short does grate a little, as it means if you get real caught up in it, you end up listening to silence after realising the album ended a while back… But hey, it has replay value. All that aside, it’s still a great slice of music!