Album review: BLUE OYSTER CULT – Curse Of The Hidden Mirror

BLUE OYSTER CULT – Curse Of The Hidden Mirror

Frontiers Records [Release date 12.06.20]

Back in the late nineties, their creativity sandbanked, Blue Oyster Cult spent 3 solid years on the road. Those years eventually sparked songwriting lightning, and assisted once more by Sci-fi/cyberpunk writer, John Shirley, the band swaggered into the Millbrook studios with a brand new batch of songs spilling from their hip pockets.

Their last album’s (“Heaven Forbid”, 1998) red hot rhythm section, Bobby Rondinelli and Danny Miranda, again teamed up with originals, Buck Dharma, Alan Lanier and Donald Roeser.

They emerged from the studio holding a brand new album aloft, “The Curse Of The Hidden Mirror” (2001), and within seconds of its intro, the beautifully measured menace of opening track, ‘Dancing On Stilts’ assures us we’re in the presence of primetime BOC.

The rest of the album is filled with tenacious melodies that cling onto your consciousness long after the show is over. From the tight, punchy story of life on the street, ‘Pocket’, played with a stripped down urgency and a lot of straightfaced fun, to the rock’n'roll reggae of ‘Showtime’, a song that could have been written by Rivers Cuomo in one of his alt. anthem moments.

Most rock albums are front loaded with the “best stuff”. It’s unusual then to find an album creating an irresistible momentum as it moves into its second half.

But that’s exactly what this album does. The masculine hardwiring of the band’s music sees every amped up circuit on ‘One Step Ahead of the Devil’ zinging with hard rock electricity. And as they deftly negotiate another track gleaming with seventies new wave shine, ‘Here Comes That Feeling’, it’s evident that after 3 years out of the studio, the music is again running like a well oiled machine.

As usual, it’s not a journey for the fainthearted… there’s often darkness at the edge of BOC’s town, and the songs’ literate lyrics won’t chime with everyone. But as the album moves towards its finish, the more contemporary sounds of ‘Stone of Love’ and the unashamedly anthemic elements of ‘Out Of The Darkness’ combine to re-ignite the exciting urban rock that BOC is known for.

It was good to see them back. And thanks to this Frontiers reissue, it’s deja vu all over again. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

2020 Vision: An introduction to Blue Oyster Cult

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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