Mastermind

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Excelsior!

Mastermind - Excelsior! ©1999 InsideOut Music
1. On The Road By Noon
2. The Approaching Storm
3. Tokyo Rain
4. The Red Hour
5. Decide For Yourself
6. Sudden Impulse
7. Sky Dancer
8. When The Walls Fell

Mastermind have been around since 1986 and really made a big impact with last year's Angels of the Apocalypse. This album was released before singer Lisa Bouchelle joined the group and added another dimension to Mastermind's sound.

Excelsior! is an instrumental release from the creative minds of Bill and Rich Berends. The album features some great progressive metal injected rock cum fusion influenced jazzy blues. Did you get all that? Yeah, neither did I. The sound is a wonderful melting pot mixture of several styles mixed as only Bill Berends can mix the formula to keep your interest from track to track. Each track is greatly different from the one preceding it and the one following it and yet the music moves from one track to the next in a very logical and graceful manner.

The music is technical but inviting. It is hauntingly expressive and in your face. There are passages that feel like impromptu jam sessions, but they are focused and intensely tight. This disc has everything to hold a progressive metal fan...except a singer. But when the music is as emotionally expressive and infinitely complex as it is here, who needs words to tell us the story? For those times when an instrumental disc is called for, but you want something that cannot in any way be classified as Muzak, this disc is going to be your disc of choice. The last track is stupendous. The walls really fall! Before the release of Angels of the Apocalypse, I'd have told you this was the best Mastermind disc out there. Now you'll have to buy both. Anything less will leave you empty and incomplete.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 01/2001


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Angels Of The Apocalypse

Mastermind - Angels Of The Apocalypse ©2000 InsideOut Music
1. The End Of The World
2. Perchance To Dream
3. 2000 Years
4. This Lover's Heart
5. The Queen Of Sheba
6. With Dignity And Grace
7. A Million Miles Away
8. The Beast Of Babylon
9. The Endless Enigma
10. Only In My Dreams

Wow, what a disc! Lisa Bouchelle's voice is amazing! Part Flemming McWilliams of Flemming and John, part Tarja of Nightwish, all athletic, clear and powerful.

Once more Mastermind have put together their unique blend of fusion laced progressive metal that defies any predefined niche. Rather, their sound spills over into multiple genres making it uniquely their own. Adding a vocalist and over tracking her voice into several harmonic layers and then incorporating her into the mix of organized chaos makes for a stunning disc. Every aspect of the music shines. The guitar and keys weave and dance together on one track, wage war on the next. The complex interweaving of the acoustic guitar on "2000 Years" works so nicely against the heavier rhythm guitar in the background. The vocals move from powerfully standing center stage to lushly moving through the background at once challenging, at once seductive. I simply cannot say enough good things about Bouchelle's voice, she was a real find for Mastermind.

Each song on this disc is a work of art in its own right. Outstanding on the disc is the cover of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's "The Endless Enigma". There are covers and then there are "you sit right down in that chair and listen to me!" covers. Suffice to say that ELP never sounded so good. This disc should be on every progressive metal fan's playlist.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 01/2001

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