ESTRADASPHERE
"Palace of Mirrors"

(The End)

01. Title
02. Palace of Mirrors
03. A Corporate Merger
04. The Terrible Beautypower of Meow
05. Colossal Risk
06. The Unfolding Pause on the Threshold
07. Smuggled Mutation
08. Six Hands
09. The Debutante
10. Flower Garden of an Evil Man
11. Those Who Know…
12. Palace of Mirrors Reprise
13. The Return

RATING: 7.5/10

Let's get it straight right now: "Palace of Mirrors" by Santa Cruz's ESTRADASPHERE is not a metal album. BUT, it is a fine jam with a smattering of guitar-based heavier parts amidst the violins, upright bass, accordion, bass clarinet, harpsichord, organ, and Japanese Shamisen. And yes, this 13-track instrumental adventure fits snugly on the roster of the always boundary-pushing The End Records. And you know what? The intensity of the pieces and the passion of the performance can still appeal to the metal warriors among you; maybe not the "if it's not DYING FETUS it's crap" crowd, but certainly those desiring to broaden their horizons and still rock out. Besides, MR. BUNGLE's Trey Spruance discovered the sextet and signed them to his Mimicry Records label, so there must be at least something cool going on here, right?

As many of you will attest, instrumental albums can be a bit of a challenge to fully enjoy in one sitting, not to mention return to for repeat listens. In the case of albums like "Palace of Mirrors", as well as the decidedly more rock-based (by way of MOGWAI) "What to do at time of Accident" by HESTON RIFLE, there is so much musical variety and action-packed movement that the listening experience is a pleasurable one. Translation: I didn't yawn once during the many times spent with the disc. Often upbeat, yet rarely spastic, the styles heard are many. "A Corporate Merger" fuses Mediterranean colors with Eastern European gypsy jams, while "Smuggled Mutation" also incorporates the latter style but with pronounced guitar riffs and semi-manic speed bursts. Sultry jazz styles are heard on "The Debutante", a song with some alluring (in a smoky bar kind of way) keyboard and horn parts. The heaviest material, at least in sections, arrives on the style blend that is "The Return", mainly due to forceful riffs and tough drumming. And we've barely scratched the surface here, as musical periods as diverse as the '20s and the '60s can be traced through the music of "Palace of Mirrors".

"Palace of Mirrors" will not appeal to most garden variety metal types, and what difference does that really make anyway? The point is that ESTRADASPHERE can straight up jam their assess off with confidence in a way that can be grasped by anyone with even a modicum of appreciation for true musicianship. Spend a little time with this one. Before you know it, you'll be sucked right into the band's expansive sounds and clever style blends. It's a lot of fun.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends). To report any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, please send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details.