From Oslo, Norway comes dark rockers Mirror Of Haze, a dreamy mix of ice cave synth pop, post-industrialized drum machine, and gothic romanticism. Their debut album “The End Is The Beginning is” complete with eight bass and guitar driven tracks of dark, danceable beats and shimmery textures. According to their Bandcamp page, “Lyrically, the album builds on eternal philosophical questions of life and death in the dystopian post apocalyptic setting, taking inspiration from the striking imagery of ‘The Waste Land’ by T.S. Eliot.”
“The End Is The Beginning” begins with “Drifting into the Void.” This track begins with a sort of urgency wrapped around melancholy, while the haze of the drum machine and the sorrow of the guitar ring out. The lyrics touch upon how everything must come to an end. Inner collapse leads to a broken, shattered individual with memories that eventually disintegrate and end up lost to the void as “blurry scenes,” never to be retrieved. The second track, “Merry-Go-Round Spinning,” opens with the deep boom of the drum machine. The guitar shimmers out, dripping in reverb, and a voice sings, “Eternal return, the void of the mind, where nothing is true, and nothing is yours and nothing is mine.” The lyrics serve as a reminder for life that is yet to come; life will recur indefinitely.
“Upside Down in the Air” feels a tinge more upbeat than the tracks that preceded it, but the melancholic tones are not completely stripped from this one. The vocals are near chant-like and the lyrics appear to stick to the theme of the eternal return. The melody on this track is rather catchy, too. The tones of fourth song, “Prisoners of the Maze,” are cavernous and ring off of one another, while the subtle vocals weaved in add a particular atmosphere of unease and unrest. The lyrics fit the feeling: “The wall is staring back at you. Another day in disbelief, there’s nothing left for you to lose.” The bass, to my liking, is a bit more pronounced in this song, specifically during the middle section. “In the Hyacinth Garden” begins in dreamy fashion with glimmering textures, the soft shuffle of the drums and subdued, layered vocals. The lyrics with lines such as, “your alien saturnine eyes reflected the ocean of haze,” and “your faded mercurial smile dissolved in the mirror of fear,” seem to describe someone suffering with an indescribable sadness, left to turn inward.
“Forgotten Places, Forgotten People” features haunting layers of voices during the chorus that sound as if they would be the “ghosts of the present” being sung about. The incessant ticking of the drum machine and the echo of the guitar wavering out into darkness bring about a peculiar feeling of sorrow. “Listen to the Trees” has a bass-heavy intro, that falls into an evocative, melancholic voice meeting the listener with a series of questions. The final song, “Thunder Without Rain,” has guitar that rolls out with thickened waves of 80’s-esque reverb, and lyrics dealing with unnatural things that make no sense (i.e., thunder without rain, fire without smoke).
Mirror Of Haze compare themselves to The Chameleons, Fields Of The Nephilim (especially with the atmosphere of the track “In the Hyacinth Garden”), Drab Majesty and Then Comes Silence, and I couldn’t agree more. They are a lovely extension from these bands with their dark, yet danceable tracks brimming with gothic overtones and poetic thoughts of existentialism. The nostalgia this album formed within me made me clench my fists with longing. It made me think of swaying to live shows in the dark of a city speckled with cold brick buildings, or it had me thinking about late night highway driving beneath a scattering of street lights.
“The End Is The Beginning” is undoubtedly an enjoyable listen, regardless of where one falls upon the goth spectrum. Truly an album for sleepless souls. Check it out on the Mirror Of Haze Bandcamp page, or look for it on the Wave Records webpage.