Blue Öyster Cult

The Curse of the Hidden Mirror

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Long Island's favorite metal-lite purveyors continued their comeback in 2001 with this unexpectedly accomplished set of new songs. Boasting the core of the original band with Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, Eric Bloom, and Alan Lanier, Curse of the Hidden Mirror stays rooted in the group's tough yet jangly approach but ups the ante with strong material that often matches, yet doesn't quite surpass, the band's best music. A return to the stylistic triumph of Agents of Fortune and the similarly titled Mirrors, the revived quintet coalesces around sharp riff-based rockers that show a band that has matured but hasn't lost its cosmic edge. Simplistic rockers like "Here Comes That Feeling" float on a fluently melodic bed, and when they slip into ballad mode, as in "Out of the Darkness," it's done without an ounce of pretension. Even the tougher rockers like "Good to Feel Hungry" and "Stone of Love" -- the latter co-penned by R. Meltzer (who worked with them in the '80s) and one of this album's highlights, a song as good as anything they've ever written -- never slip into either stiffness or, worse, self-parody. Roeser keeps his solos on low burn, never overstaying his welcome, and vocalist Bloom doesn't force his still-smooth voice, belying his age (early fifties) and veteran status. The opening tuneful rocker "Dance on Stilts" could easily fit on either one of the group's classic first four studio albums, as could the appropriately titled "One Step Ahead of the Devil," which is a high compliment indeed. In fact, except for a few slips on the simplistic "I Just Want to Be Bad," a track that's as bland as it sounds, Curse of the Hidden Mirror is a remarkably consistent, subtle, and even poetic album that expands their sci-fi undercurrents without getting lost in space. It's far better than some of the group's limp late-'80s work and stands as one of the finest albums of their nearly three decade -- and counting -- career of evil.

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