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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Blue Öyster Cult

Curse of the Hidden Mirror

Review by Gary Hill

Blue Oyster Cult has always been an unusual band. They have many cuts in their history that are classic hard rocking pieces. I'm talking the kind of songs that really rise heads above the vast majority of music out there. They also have a lot of music that is closer to the mediocre level. Granted they never really get bad, but some of the material comes across as pretty generic. A classic example of this problem is the Agents of Fortune album. That album contains one of the all time classic BOC tracks, "Don't Fear The Reaper" and a few other killer tracks. It also includes quite a few numbers that just don't come close to that level. This album really feels a lot like that classic. The textures of the album seem to move away from the harder edge that Heaven Forbid, their last release embraced. The disc seems to strive to capture their 1970's sound. It really does that, for better or worse. They are quite a few tracks here that work very well, but there are also plenty that are just sort of "also ran"s. In that aspect it is an inconsistent album, but if you are a fan of albums like Agents, you probably will enjoy Curse of the Hidden Mirror.

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Track by Track Review
Dance on Stilts
Based on a nice gritty bluesy riff, this one comes on strong. The chorus takes on a classic '70's era BOC texture. This is classic Cult.
A hard-edged guitar segment starts this cut. It quickly drops to a mellower BOC style in a '70's tradition. This is good solid rock, but nothing too spectacular.
The Old Gods Return
This cut earns points right from the start with its Lovecraftian lyrical themes and title. Musically it feels much more like the strong, dramatic BOC of old, think Fire Of Unknown Origin era. This one could quite easily be a new Cult classic. It features enough classic BOCisms to endear it to old time fans.
Based in a straightforward '70's rock texture, this tune is not all that special, but does feature a solid vocal line.
One Step Ahead of the Devil
With a great classic bluesy rock riff leading it off, this one feels like very old BOC in the mode of the first couple albums. It is one of the standout cuts on the CD and another that can hold its own with most of the group's catalog.
I Just Like to Be Bad:
This one features the more pop rock oriented BOC sound. It does have an interesting percussion line, though and a catchy chorus.
Here Comes That Feeling
"Here Comes That Feeling" is way too pop-oriented. It feels like BOC at their most mainstream point, with a very definite late '70's pop sound.
Out of the Darkness
Slower and more balladic, this cut does have a strong character to it, and a great darker tone. It is classic Blue Oyster Cult come home to roost.
Stone Love
With a somewhat stripped down sound, this one is trying to capture the "Burning For You" sound, but in a less produced way. The instrumental break is quite cool, meandering quite a bit in its progress.
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