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On disc: Mastermind



Angels Of The Apocalypse - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
Insomnia - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars


www.mastermindband.com







Insomnia

Insomnia
(Lion Music - 2010)


It's been a long time since I last heard of New Jersey-based band Mastermind. In 2000 they released Angels Of The Apocalypse, followed by a live album in 2001. It seems they released a single / EP called Broken in 2005, but to be honest I missed it.
Now Bill and Rich Berends are back with Insomnia - and a new singer! Tracy McShane's voice is powerful and has a warm timbre. Anyway they open up with Desire, a heavy progressive guitar-driven rocker where Tracy's phrasing partly reminds me of Anneke van Giersbergen.... Stratovarius keyboarder Jens Johansson is helping Mastermind on this record again, but stays in the background. Break Me Down is a dark, riff-based track with has a modern touch, just to present a different facet on One More Night. The balladesque tune starts with acoustic guitar and Bill Berends' vocals, but then they head into a complex mid-paced track and go back to the semi-acoustic passage - this time Tracy is taking the spotlight. The song is a sonic roller coaster ride which I like to take frequently. Slow, heavy riffs lead you into Meltdown. Not even half way through the album it becomes very obvious that Mastermind re-invented themselves! They sound heavy and modern, but Bill Berends guitar play didn't change, he just adjusted it to the new Mastermind sound. And then they surprise you with Piggy World which has a jazzy touch - at the very beginning -, but then Tracy joins in with spoken words, almost rap-like vocals - and the song takes a different direction. Fascinating and disturbing at a time! Another song with twists and turns. The balladesque No Answer is very emotional, perhaps because this is the only track Tracy wrote the lyrics for and so is more expressive... Another surprise is Night Flier which kicks off in a jazz fusion kinda way, this instrumental is probably too much for fans who aren't into prog. It's a challenge, but worth taking it! At Nietzsche the vocals are back, an up-tempo tune with a progressive edge, but very catchy due to Tracy's vocals. For me one of the highlights at Insomnia! Last, but not least... Last Cigarette, the albums longest track with more then 9 minutes. Dark and with a symphonic touch the slow melancholy tune carries you away. The guitar seems to mourn and even if this song is full of sadness, there is a spark of hope... It seems like towards the end hope is coming back, like after a loss where the world seems to be a dark place, but after awhile the darkness gets lighter.
Well, if you love Mastermind's Angels Of The Apocalypse and expect something similar, then you might be disappointed. But if you listen to the album without prejudice, then might discover the beauty of Insomnia.


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Angels Of The Apocalypse

Angels Of The Apocalypse
(InsideOut Music - 2000)


Another release of the American quartett which released several albums since they formed in 1986. The New Jersey four-some is one of the most successful American progressive metal acts which is not just known in Europe and Japan! With a new line-up they are back! Lisa Bouchelle add a special touch to Mastermind. The band of guitarist Bill Berends and his bro Rich on drums shows their virtuoso musicianship balancing progressive rock, metal and fusion. Excelsior! the predessesor album, an instrumental album, also presented Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) on keyboard. Jens added his keyboard sound to an album which is a mixture of metal and jazz fusion! On Angels Of The Apocalypse Jens took part, too. The opening track The End Of The World is more than 10 mintues long, but catchy and never boring! Singer Lisa Bouchelle make this album something special and will bring them new fans. A Million Miles Away is a great ballad which is powerful and also very emotional. With The Endless Enigma the band covers an old Emerson, Lake & Palmer track and they did it very good! ELP is not easy to cover!
To check them out, give a try to the opening track and A Million Miles Away.


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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           2008-2010 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail: contact@ice-vajal.com


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