By Lord Randall
GAEREA’s sophomore release, “Limbo” of ’20, was one of the surprises of that year, both showing a band successfully expanding upon the debut, yet remaining true to themselves – not so much a reinvention as a reworking – and ended up on the Best Of 2020 lists of myself and many others.
All-important third album “Mirage” sees the Portuguese troupe keeping the 8 songs to around average length for the band, yet still under an hour for total playing time. While the extended tracks that bookended “Limbo” were grand, “Memoir” captivates from the start, shimmering, hazy as a mirage itself, distant whispers, remembrance and loss, bittersweet as the guitars weaving in and out of off-kilter rhythms. Wrenched almost physically from our reverie, fiery boulders crash, meteoric from miserable skies, the lyric “A deafening sound / Dragging around / Like bugs / Rejoicing”, and we’re not so much slaughtered as instantly awoken to another dimension ala Slaughterhouse-Five, so quick is the shift.
“Deluge” cascades, black-golden rain swallowing the ground, but is a shining example of why GAEREA is a band to watch. Elements of black metal, noise rock in the jagged riffing tones, nearly grind rhythms and unrelenting vocal attack, leaving no crack, no fissure through which escape might occur. The treble-heavy guitars of “Ebb” scrape against the eardrums, an irritant impossible to deny, because the TOOL-esque catharsis is also here, while the title track gives a respite - albeit slight - swimming in a shoegaze sea of color, not as frantic, but with equal passion. Here’s where you find your moments of peace, the eye of “Mirage’s” storm, as it were.
“Laude” concludes the procession to demise, lyrically touching on T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’, culminating in sonic implosion, “Not a whisper, not a thought / Not a kiss, no luck to be lost” leaving we survivors scarred, drained due to the effort needed for such an undertaking as “Mirage”, yet somehow…to rebuild?