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Wax Fang

Mirror, Mirror EP

[Don't Panic Records; 2012]

By ; November 21, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Superstitious people won’t care for the cover art for Wax Fang’s Mirror, Mirror EP; it’s considered bad luck to have two mirrors facing each other. The Louisville-born band doesn’t seem too bothered though. If anything they relish in off-kilter ideas, in tickling people’s inexplicable fears, singing of mirrors like they’re described in the Brothers Grimm versions of Snow White and of being careful what you wish for. “You might get it” lead-singer Scott Carney exhales, like he knows something you don’t. Mirror, Mirror is the band’s own little horror film.

While not expressly scary, there’s a definite recognition of tension. On the opening title track, Carney sings alone with his guitar for a moment, and when you expect it to break into something new, he teases out another couple of lines. It makes the wall of instrumentation that hits a few seconds later all the more effective. Like a scare in a horror movie, you know it’s coming but can’t pinpoint exactly when it’s going to hit. On “In Memory” they slow proceedings down a little. The song creeps along with a plodding bassline as a heavy, ominous atmosphere is leaked into the background. The song builds gradually, and while it would be more satisfying if it accumulated in something more than Carney harmonizing with his guitar (which he does do pretty well, it must be said), the journey is pleasing for its unsettling feel.

Outside of all this they take to some rocking out. Now that Muse have transcended into their own conspiracy theory heaven, there’s a vacant spot for a band who want to conquer vast grounds and get huge noise from their speakers. Wax Fang make a good effort at trying to fill the shoes Muse left behind, sporting some Absolution-era rock-outs on “Mirror, Mirror” and driving themselves forward with plenty of double-tracked guitar lines. Carney’s voice also has the potential to go as high as Matt Bellamy’s, even though it is a little strange and likely to be a stopping point for new listeners. It’s a peculiar voice–somewhere between an alto and soprano–that feels like it has a lot hidden. For the most part he keeps it reserved, only showing it at its best during the high-rise choruses of “White Kane” or in the background shrieks at the end of “Mirror, Mirror.”

The band still sound like they need a grasp of something bigger, though. Mirror, Mirror is likeable and exciting at its best moments, recalling The Curse Of The Longest Day-era 31Knots, but it’s the two songs that bookmark the EP that are the main stopping points. “White Kane” and “Dawn of the Dead of the Night of the Hunter” (horror movie, as I said) aren’t unlikable in any way, but they lack the intriguing spark of the two other tracks. Sonic detail could be used to better effect. The aforementioned shrieks on “Mirror, Mirror” are a golden little moment worth listening for (if not buried a little too much into the mix) while on “In Memory” scrapes of noise slip across the air as the light echo of the drum beat loudens with each bar, like a masked killer pounding on your door. All they need is for something unforgettable waiting behind the door. Instead the dramatic crescendo reveals itself to be a mirror, the band just playing to themselves with all their double-tracked guitar and vocals.



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