Concept albums are interesting ones for myself, sometimes coming across a lot more personal and real. So from Allentown, Pennsylvania we have weighing in with a mixture of progressive, melodic, traditional and power metal influences the band Mindmaze consisting the sibling duo of vocalist Sarah Teets and guitarist Jeff Teets, along with Rich Pasqualone on bass and Mark Bennett, the new drummer. “Resolve” is their third release and is signed under Inner Wound Recordings. “Resolve” is Mindmaze’s first conceptual release, and in this the theme is one that explores the depth of human emotion and struggling in the face of loss and betrayal.
“Resolve” is an album that from the start is massed with energy and emotion. An album of intense emotions and personal testimony in way that can or could be a hard album to digest for some, but Mindmaze create such a beautiful and intense landscape, and the driving energy keep you interested throughout, so hopefully people see that. “Resolve” is artistic, beautiful, intense, emotional, full of energy and delivers with an abundance of memorizing mucianship ie: “Drown Me”.
The thing with Mindmaze is that the sound and melodies are approachable, I am not saying they commercially acceptable in terms of some of those mindless one line pop songs, but the melodies and vocals are easy on the ears to be excepted by a wider audience. Look there are a great many female fronted metal bands out there, but Sarah Teets comes across professional and strong in her vocal performance exacting the emotions and ferocities of the songs as needed when needed. As I said if I analyse a song like “Drown Me” it comes across in movements and sweeps like a beautifully composed and constructed symphonic orchestra piece.
I love the use of various instrumentation as well throughout its adds an air of sophistication and depth to the quality and delivery to the album. “In the Void” offers the listener some piano, violin and cello. Overall all instrumentation is handled with great artistic ability and more so their ability their ability to play good is their ability to construct a song, that for me is important. Throughout the construction of the songs are strong and fresh, and carry you along with them.
I would put “Abandon” as the half way mark on this thirteen track release. I always believe the half way song is an important one to carry the listener to the end. Looking at the five songs previous to it it’s a wonderful progression and journey where the album is knitted well and strong. So for me “Abandon” has a lot of pressure on it to knit the two sides of the album together, and its performs with excellence, its vibrant, strong musically and vocally, it’s probably one of my favourite tracks on the album, and I really feel things come together well on “Abandon”, its moves strongly and quickly, never once loosing ones attention. Love the guitar work in that song a lot.
By this time ones also starts to see how the album is divided by short instrumentals, as after “Abandon” we are introduced to “Sanity’s Collapse”. The first short instrumental we are introduced to is the opening “Reverie”, then the second comes after, “Fight The Future”, called “In This Void” and then the third is “Sanity’s Collapse”. In an orchestral release, I would then say this album is divided in to different movements and expressions, and that being said just adds to the quality, depth and emotion of the album. It’s like a knitting process of the story of the album as its been told, and there is nothing greater when one is able help tell a story or knit a story together without words, it involves a greater engagement and attention, and when done right is able to sweep up the listener and take them on the journey, and Mindmaze are in my books strong at telling a story, and certainly, “Resolve” as an album does not lose that balance of telling the story, delivering a message and entertaining.
As I said before there are various musical influences and elements to Mindmaze that criss-cross the metal genre spectrum, “One More Moment” leans strongly on the symphonic side of that spectrum. It’s again a beautifully written piece, particularly the piano intro. I think where Mindmaze succeed well is that their songs are emotionally accessible. Many of their songs are sound scapes that have a personal reach to the listener. These are all attributes for a great album, and “Resolve” is certainly that, a great album.
As we edge closer to the end of the album we are introduced to a harder, heavier song, “Twisted Dream” again showing the diversity of the band, and able to knit that diversity so well from one song to the next.
The album ends on a very beautiful and strong note with the epic eleven minute “The Path To Perseverance”. It’s a song that knits and completes the album nicely. A song filled with strong melodies, and emotion filled vocals that engage the attention of the listener.
In knitting up this review one gets the impression that a lot of time and effort has gone into the album. It’s filled with personal emotion and engagement. “Resolve” takes one on a whirlwind journey through the scope of human emotion in hopes they will be able to project their own experiences into these intensely personal lyrics inspired by an amalgam of real-life events.
It’s a well composed and structured release. There is a good marriage of production with artist, thus I feel the energy and sincerity of the music is captured brilliantly on this concept album. The music is filled with just enough complexity and the ability to bring all those beautiful sounds together to tell a story in the sense for me from a musician point of view is incredible. Whether fans would appreciate those kind of qualities is another story, as I find most people enjoy a particular sound and when you marry other sounds together they can be resistant to that, but I find that Mindmaze do a great job of this, and together with their strong song writing skill, both lyrically and musically make this a very accessible album even though its conceptual and pushes it to the front of the melodic progressive metal spectrum. This is a fine wine dining at its best. It needs a mature palette to really appreciate the amount of detail and artistic brilliance that this album reveals. Great album.
Written by Donovan de Necker
1. Reverie (Instrumental)
2. Fight the Future
3. In This Void (Instrumental)
4. Drown Me
5. Sign of Life
7. Sanity’s Collapse (Instrumental)
8. One More Moment
9. Twisted Dream
10. True Reflection
11. Shattered Self
Sarah Teets – Vocals
Jeff Teets – Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mark Bennett – Drums
Rich Pasqualone – Bass, Backing Vocals
“Mask of Lies” (2013)
“Back from the Edge” (2014) [review]
“Dreamwalker” EP (2015)
Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings, April 2017
Video for: ‘Sign of Life’
Lyric video for: ‘One More Moment’