Heyoka’s Mirror – The Uninvited King

The Uninvited King Album Cover Art

Heyoka’s Mirror – The Uninvited King
Self-Released
Release Date: 06/03/2021
Running Time: 50:49
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Rick, the grand high wizard here at camp Ever Metal, knows my tastes pretty well now. Not really a surprise, as he has lived with me and my eclectic temperament for the last 6 years! So, when Calgary based Progressive Rock/Metal band, Heyoka’s Mirror dropped their debut album, “The Uninvited King” into the EM inbox, he sent it in my direction. Their email stated that they had been likened to a variety of bands, including my all-time favourites, Queen, which made me pay attention.

I can confirm that there’s definitely a vast variety of influences in Heyoka’s Mirror’s sound, including the aforementioned gods of music themselves. The opening track ‘The Light Within’ starts with drums, alongside some delicious synth and guitar, very much akin to the likes of The Enid. But it launches into an indulgent guitar solo, which just has Brian May written all over it, and some ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ vocal harmonies.

The tracks that follow are much heavier, drawing from Classic Heavy Metal, Symphonic Metal, and a touch of Thrash, 70s Hard Rock, and 90s Grunge to boot, but all with the overarching difficult rhythms and ‘might as well chuck it in, why the fuck not’ nature of prog. We even get some death growl vocals, because, in prog, anything goes! There are some pretty groove-laden riffs throughout, too (‘Shadow Man’ is full of them).

The mid-point to the album treats us to a 10-minute prog marathon, exploring the full range of progressive sounds, right from the more modern, to the more classic. It’s full of discordant guitars, crazy vocals, soft interludes, pauses, reverb, complicated rhythmic patterns, and unexpected cadences. My kid brother once dropped acid at Reading Festival, and completely missed Metallica (one of the main reasons he went in the first place) because he was curled up in a ball on the floor, facing away from the stage, rocking and staring into a hallucinogenic abyss that had opened up in the field in front of him. I’m fairly sure that this track was probably pretty similar to the sounds inside his head at that moment!

Ironic, really, that the next track on the album is called ‘Asylum’ (On a side note, this is also nearly 9 minutes long, and as bonkers as the previous track, which makes me very happy. Great bit of classical inspired piano, and jazz funk bass in the middle of it, too, before the bonkers kicks off again).

The album takes a twist from this point, sticking to a modern prog sound, with a hint of djent. That is until the final track ‘Celebration Of Light’, which almost brings everything back full circle, in epic, cinematic, 70’s inspired anthem style. It’s a great way to finish an album. Beautiful sweeping guitar solos, vocal harmonies, thumping drums, and expansive synth sounds triumphantly march towards the climax of what is, indeed, a mighty fine debut album. This is the musical equivalent of philosophical debate, in an attempt to reach the Nirvana of complete understanding, whilst high on psychedelic drugs. It’s an impressive thing to behold.

‘Asylum’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Light Within
02. Heavy Rain
03. Shadow Man
04. The Darkness Within
05. Asylum
06. Deal with the Devil
07. King Of Deception
08. Celebration Of Light

LINE-UP:
Andrew Balboa – Guitar/Synth/Vocals
Omar Sultan – Guitar/Vocals

Additional Album Line-up:
Casey Lewis – Drums
Johnny Kerr – Drums
Brendan Rothwell – Bass
Renan Weignater – Bass

LINKS:

Heyoka's Mirror Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage
Directed And Co-Written: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen
Produced by: Banger Films
2010
Review by Chris Galea
10/10

“I always like to consider us the world’s most popular cult band.”

(Geddy Lee in “Beyond The Lighted Stage.)

Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen have produced a string of documentaries related to Heavy Metal, such as “Global Metal” and “Iron Maiden: Flight 666”. The two are Canadian so it was no surprise that at one point they would make a feature on one of the biggest bands to emerge from Canada: Rush. The duo’s knowledge, passion and dedication for the band helps make “Beyond The Lighted Stage” an engrossing account of the history of this longstanding power trio.

The documentary starts by looking at the band’s roots in Toronto and Ontario. Geddy Lee (bass/keyboards/lead vocals) and Alex Lifeson (guitars) visit the school basement where they first performed live together and where they formed a friendship that would last a lifetime. At the same time, we get to hear audio clips of some very early recordings of Geddy and Alex, which I thought was all quite fascinating.

Both their mothers reminisce on their sons’ first steps into learning their respective crafts. They admit being befuddled as to why young Geddy and Alex were giving music so much attention but ultimately both were quite supportive of their sons’ endeavours. We learn from the documentary that both their families came from harsh background. For example, Geddy’s parents were WW2 holocaust survivors….perhaps that was partly why the band endeared itself to Kiss’ Gene Simmons (Gene’s own mother was a concentration camp survivor).

“Beyond The Lighted Stage” provides quite a comprehensive insight into the band. Amongst other things it discusses the tenure and dismissal of Rush’s first drummer, John Rutsey. Then it focuses on each band member individually in an attempt to learn more about their personalities, motivations and salient memories. The documentary then moves the spotlight onto Neil Peart who, on being recruited as Rutsey’s replacement, had just 2 weeks to learn Rush’s existing repertoire before that line-up’s first gig: in front of 11000 people supporting Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann. Of course, since then, Peart has become a benchmark for aspiring drummers around the world as well as a highly respected lyricist.

The documentary shares lots of amusing stories about life on the road with Rush. Of course it also sheds light on the band’s repertoire, such as “2112”, the crucial album that cemented Rush’s credibility with music industry boffins as well as asserting the band members’ reputation as musicians in the eyes of die-hard fans.

Meanwhile the band is forthright enough to acknowledge that fans don’t always react positively to their albums but this to be expected because Rush never repeated themselves, musically speaking. In fact, as one journalist puts it: “Nobody could really put a finger on what they were.” Curiously that same journalist – who used to host a 1-hour Heavy Metal radio show back in the early 1980’s – is today chief White House Correspondent for Fox News.

Numerous personalities and well-known musicians offer their take on the band and its music….fans, journalists, Rush’s manager, Mick Box, Mike Portnoy, Trent Reznor, Gene Simmons, Sebastian Bach and Billy Corgan amongst many others. Extensive trivia…whether sad, funny or tragic…is balanced with lots of live music and a good deal of insight.

Along with triumphant moments, “Beyond The Lighted Stage” also covers some dark periods in Rush’s history, chief of which was when Neil Peart lost two members of his family in a short space of time. The way the trio handled that situation contextualises the endurance of the band’s line-up. On his subject Les Claypool, Primus bassist, says, “It’s spectacular to see 3 guys tolerate each other for all these years and still make good music.”

While providing convincing arguments on the influence of Rush on contemporary music, “Beyond the Lighted Stage” is primarily about the three down to earth and open-minded musicians that lay behind the music. Neil Peart confesses that Rush was never so arrogant that the guys wouldn’t allow themselves to be influenced by other musicians and by other music. Indeed, he says: “There was no such thing as ‘that didn’t suit Rush’. Those words have never been uttered.”

Another thing that I observed is that Lee, Lifeson and Peart never expected success to fall into their laps. They all seemed to have an ingrained attitude that ambitions could only be attained through hard work and a steadfast determination. In all honesty I found it very hard to pull myself away from the screen, so intriguing is this documentary. And excellently edited too.

The ending of “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is a very endearing and befitting way to round off the documentary. Since its release, Neil Peart has passed away (in January 2020) and Rush is no more but the band’s legacy endures…a factor which might validate Geddy Lee’s description of Rush as a ‘cult band’.

Watch the trailer here:

The 40th Anniversary Edition of “Permanent Waves” by Rush is available now:

www.rushbackstage.com/dept/permanent-waves-40th-anniversary

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.