Seldom - 'Black Mirror'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we shine our light back on an artist we’ve previously dealt with, the band Seldom. Back in June, they dropped a pretty hefty effort, a record called ‘Damaged.’ Now, they’re back. This Saturday, ‘Black Mirror’ will be available for streaming. We’ve gotten an early peek at the five track outing, however, so let’s delve straight into it!

Back in June, I enjoyed ‘Damaged.’ With that said, I was critical of the band’s inability to break out of their bubble. The tracks blurred together a bit too much and I offered the observation that it would have been a much stronger release with half a dozen tracks. It would seem that critique stuck, to some extent, because ‘Black Mirror’ isn’t as large of a collection. Does the album solve the band's potential problem?

As with their last album, ‘Black Mirror’ is a dark, moody, atmospheric endeavor entrenched in distortion, power chords, and hard rock style. The actual mix of the title track is a bit questionable. The instrumentation feels fragmented, and the bass and percussion are far too loud in the mix. Thus, in the final master, the lead vocalist is drowned out. On studio monitors, I found the bass lines far too overpowering. Other than that, it’s more or less the sound we’ve heard before.

The studio issues ‘Black Mirror’ has are somewhat forgotten on ‘The Grudge.’ The song has some nice harmonies, too, making for a memorable chorus. As I mentioned in my last review, the band’s musicality is top notch. The band’s performances are sharp and on mark throughout. That may be most apparent on the highlight of the collection, ‘Digital Echoes.’ I dig the production on that and how it branches outside their normal sound. ‘Masquerade’ boasts a rather unique guitar lick and the finale, ‘Marionette,’ is an interesting enough outing, but one that doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

I don’t think ‘Black Mirror’ lives up to its potential. I spent about an hour with this EP, listening to it several times through. In doing that, I realized that each of the five songs sounds incredibly like the rest. In fact, I don’t actually think I could determine which song is which in a blind test, even after listening to each of the tracks three or four times through. That’s a serious problem: there seems to be a formula here and it’s very rarely deviated from. If ‘Digital Echoes’ didn’t toy with some new factors, ‘Black Mirror’ would be one giant song.

If you liked ‘Damaged,’ you’ll probably like this. There isn’t anything noteworthy on this album, though, and it falls short of its potential. This band is quite talented - they badly need to break out of the bubble they’ve put themselves in.