Mirage


Athens (Attica)
Power Metal
Active:
1996-1997

Before conquering the world as keyboard wizard extraordinaire in FIREWIND, multi-instrumentalist Bob Katsionis invested his talents in a variety of local bands. Some of them he was himself the inciter of, including the short-lived MIRAGE who later morphed into a Greek/Swedish collaboration project christened IMAGINARY. Most likely influenced by upcoming European bands such as GAMMA RAY and especially STRATOVARIUS, Bob formed MIRAGE as a project for performing rapid and melodic power metal in the 1990s European school – something which was not that common in Greece back then (at least not yet). He handled all the instruments himself, while employing different vocalists for the band’s two demo recordings.

Compilation appearances:
* Fire and Steel 1 [Cass, Comp: Self-released (Warrior’s Lament Zine), 1996]

d i s c o g r a p h y :

Time to Win - Demo (cassette) 1996 - Private (-)
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Details: Single-sided regular cassette w/ sticker, colored j-card.

Reissues:
- CD, Test Records, 2001 (test-text)
- LP, Testtest Records, 2066 (test test test)
- CD, Test Records, 2001 (test-text)
- LP, Testtest Records, 2066 (test test test)
TRACKLIST:
A Medieval Romance
Poison Blood
Minds Imprisoned
LINE-UP:
Bob Katsionis (all instruments)
Mary Zemboy (vocals)
On MIRAGE’s first demo recording, Bob Katsionis together with vocalist cohort Marie Zemboy manage to nail the euro power metal style, but don’t quite reach the whole way as far as execution goes. After a relatively short mock-flute/harpsichord instrumental intro, the listener is treated to the whole flower metal-smorgasbord. At the basis of the songs lies rapid double-bass drums and rhythm guitars, churning out a fluid stream of palm-muted 16-notes over drawn-out chord progressions. Melodies – primarily provided by the dominant keyboard played “virtuoso style” – are on the peppy side, but also carries the slightest hint of melancholy to keep cheese-levels at bearable levels.

In all its catchiness the song material is fully acceptable for the style, but is bogged down by a number of factors. First of all, the voice of Ms. Zemboy will probably give rise to a few chuckles, complemented by a slight frowning as she fails to reach the high notes. At the same time, she grants the music an honest and frail character that you don’t normally hear in this kind of music. The overall presentation is the main issue here. Putting the keyboard in the front of the mix at the expense of the guitars is never a good thing. It makes the songs sound weak and since the actual sound of the keyboards are a bit on the cheap side, the whole thing sounds more like a video-game soundtrack than heavy metal.

Thankfully, MIRAGE would improve substantially on their second effort “Vibrations” (1997). As for “Time to Win”, this debut recording is primarily for the die-hard Euro power metal fans (who can stand a certain level of imperfection) and Katsionis completists.

Written by Johan Pettersson

Vibrations - Demo (cassette) 1997 - Private (-)
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Details: Single-sided regular cassette w/ sticker, colored j-card, insert w/ lyrics.

Reissues:
TRACKLIST:
Classical Vibrations
Pages
Fortune Teller
Bleeding Hearts
Minds Imprisoned
Invention a D Mineur
World of Hate
Distant Calling
LINE-UP:
Bob Katsionis (all instruments)
Thomas “Keeper” Papaefstathiou (vocals)
This is more like it! Having re-grouped with the “new old” singer Thomas “Keeper” Papaefstathiou (who previously lent his talents on the marvelous METAL SAGEN-demo), Bob Katsionis returns with a follow-up that trumps the debut in every aspect. Stylistically, “Vibrations” follows in the footsteps of “Time to Win”: swiftly paced and shamelessly melodic mid-1990s European power metal with a neo-classical edge. Unlike the debut, which faltered due to amateurish vocal performance and unwise production/mixing, “Vibrations” brings some actual power to the procedures. The rhythm guitars in particular are heavier and have been given a proper boost in the mix. Of course, keyboards are still present and plays an important role in the solo-department. But instead of overwhelming the music they are used to enhance the overall experience. Well, except for the instrumental tracks where they’re all over the place.

Like his predecessor, Thomas “Keeper” isn’t a conventional heavy metal vocalist. He’s got a limited range and it can take some time to get used to his nasal voice. These shortcomings – if they can be called such – actually work to his advantage as they somehow fit the bittersweet character of the music. Especially in a song like “Fortune Teller” which combines up-tempo cheerfulness with an underlying reflective gloom.

This would be the last release under the MIRAGE-moniker before the band once more re-grouped and changed name to IMAGINERY. Unfortunately, some of the charm was lost in the process as the music became more professional and leaner. For those who wish to acquaint themselves with MIRAGE, “Vibrations” is definitely the place to start. Those who can’t stand this type of music should beware though, we’re in deep flower metal territory…

Written by Johan Pettersson




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