Canadian progressives Medevil are back with their second album Mirror In The Darkness; My colleagues Scott Adams and Ferry Templeton were much taken with the band’s debut, Conductor of Storms, which came out in 2016, and, in 2023, it has to be said that the band have once again contributed something very nice indeed to the heavy metal canon.

It’s an album shrouded in tragedy – drummer Chris Malcolmson passed away after finishing his parts for the record – but also an album that’s a worthy testament to the band and their fallen drummer. If you liked Conductor of Storms, your’re going to love new effort Mirror In The Darkness, not because it sounds the same as that record but because it takes everything that gave appeal to the debut and refines and hones those elements to take the band to almost unimaginable new heights.

Seriously, the progression here is amazing, as the band twist and turn their way effortlessly into prog metal’s Premier League via superb, wondrous pieces of music like The Signal; MitD doesn’t have the obvious hooks and thrashy immediacy of CoS, it’s true, but in almost every other respect the supercharged musicianship and top-grade vocal power deployed here marks out Medevil as real contenders going forward.

The scittery, nerve-stretching Weight of the Crown is the album in microcosm; punchy, musicianly without assuming a mantle of inaccessibility, and topped off with another commanding vocal performance from Liam Collingwood, it’s exactly what progressive heavy metal should sound like in 2023. It’s also an example of the band at it’s most immediate, because, for the most part, this is an album that requires effort on the part of the listener to decode it’s deepest secrets, but that effort is rewarded  in spades in the long run.

Gary Cordsen and Brett Gibbs have blossomed into an effective guitar partnership, adding real value to the overall Medevil sound, and Eric Wesa‘s partnership with Malcolmson in the engine room adds weight but also a pleasing elasticity not always displayed by heavy metal rhythm sections. The pair’s twisting and turning work on the title track is one of the album’s highlights.

At fifty six minutes in length, some listeners may be daunted by the sheer amount of Medevil they are being asked to absorb, but I can quite honestly say that there is not one second wasted here as the band deliver one of the most compelling, absorbing albums I’ve heard in quite some while. Congratulations to all involved.

Mirror in the Darkness releases on April 7th.

Chris Malcolmson RIP.