Curse of the Hidden Mirror was Blue Öyster Cult’s last studio album, released originally in 2001, and re-released in remastered form earlier this year. Given that we are now expecting the long awaited follow up, it seems timely to remind ourselves of this album in anticipation of some new music.
The title comes from an old song which even pre-dates Blue Öyster Cult. It was on an album by an earlier incarnation of the band when they went by the name of the Stalk-Forrest Group, and it’s a nice nod to the past. Revisiting it now, having not heard it for years, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised at how well it has worn, and how good it sounds. I don’t recall being overly impressed first time around, and it certainly isn’t a classic, but it’s not one of the duds either, and there are one or two in the catalogue. This was original keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Allen Lanier’s last album with BÖC, and he retired from music a few years later. Joining Lanier, along with ever-present stalwarts Eric Bloom and Donald ’Buck Dharma’ Roeser, are Danny Miranda on bass and ex-Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli. The sound has been buffed up and sounds big and bouncy.
Dance on Stilts sets the tone for the album with a familiar ambience that is immediately BÖC, and a crunchy riff, a Buck Dharma vocal and catchy “you elevate me” chorus. The backing vocals are slick, the guitar solo oozes taste and technique, and the outro demonstrates how cool the rhythm section are, supple and propulsive. Eric Bloom picks up the vocal baton for Showtime, a tale of a convict planning revenge on his girlfriend upon his release, and he pitches a suitably menacing delivery. By third song The Old Gods Return, I’m pretty much convinced that they have! The band are, and always were a cut above your average metal band. They always brought intelligence and a sense of humour to their music, and it’s certainly there on Curse of the Hidden Mirror. The BÖC mystique lives on. Vocal duties continue to be shared throughout bringing a good sense of balance between the bombast and the subtlety.
Highlights abound; Pocket has an engaging story-telling quality and fiery guitar work, Out of That Darkness is a dark and brooding ghost story so typical of the band, recalling Nosferatu from the Spectres album. Album closer Good to Feel Hungry has a nice Bobby Rondinelli drum intro, settling into a funky rhythm with slightly odd lyrics, like “its good to feel certain, even when you’re not right, sweep back the curtains and let on some light….if there is any light”. It’s an off-kilter end to an entertaining collection of songs which maintain BÖC’s high standards of output. And having got reacquainted with this little gem, I have to say I am very much looking forward to their return, and the first new studio set for nineteen years. Watch this space…
01. Dance on Stilts (6:05)
02. Showtime (4:38)
03. The Old Gods Return (4:36)
04. Pocket (4:15)
05. One Step Ahead of the Devil (4:16)
06. I Just Like to be Bad (3:54)
07. Here Comes The Feeling (3:21)
08. Out Of That Darkness (5:06)
09. Stone of Love (5:49)
10. Eye of the Hurricane (4:40)
11. Good to Feel Hungry (4:12)
Total Time – 50:54
Eric Bloom – Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
Donald ’Buck Dharma’ Roeser – Lead Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
Allen Lanier – Keyboards, Guitar
Danny Miranda – Bass, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Norman DelTufo – Percussion
George Cintron – Background Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 12th June 2020 (original release 2001)