MINDMAZE – Back From The Edge (2014)
Hailing from Pennsylvania, US, but through a Swedish based record label, rockers MINDMAZE are releasing their second album “Back From The Edge“, a really polished slab of powerful tunes.
MindMaze works from the roots of traditional melodic metal, and then throws in female lead vocals with a good mixture of progressive elements and a healthy measure of melody.
The band is led by siblings Jeff and Sarah Teets, with the drumming of Kalin Schweizerhof and a lot of renowned instrumentalists contributing like Symphony X’s bass player Mike LePond, Pharaoh guitarist Matt Johnsen, great Swedish keyboardist Jens Johansson (Yngwie) and Lord guitarist Lord Tim.
Keeping good company with talented musicians is one thing, but delivering the goods is another. And Mindmaze does. I was particularly impressed at the depth of the songwriting and arrangements on “Back From The Edge”.
All the songs are thick with groove, harmony, and melody, yet sufficiently intriguing thanks to shifts and twists from tempo to instrumentation. Significant to the latter is Jeff Teets’ impressive guitar lines. His riffs and leads are complete, rousing and entertaining. So much so, one might call this a guitar-oriented prog metal album. If you like sharp guitar work, you will definitely enjoy this album.
As for sister Sarah’s voice, her vocals are essentially straight foward, easily in the range of hard rock and melodic metal. What she’s not is some crazy operatic singer trying to impress you with her range and pierce your eardrums. She rocks in a traditional way giving the album a ‘classic’ feel.
“Back From The Edge” is an easy album to get into. Right from the start you know you’re in familiar territory. Progressive metal has grown in a lot of interesting directions lately, and while MindMaze does some exploration, this record is crafted in the traditional way.
Highlights include the powerful, anthemic “Dreamwalker”, the highly melodic “Moment of Flight”, the epic “The Machine Stops”, and the elaborated “Onward (Destiny Calls 2)” including acoustics and synths in the middle, plus a scorching guitar solo.
MindMaze is a band that should have a pretty wide appeal, and “Back From The Edge” a really, really fine listen from start to finish.
All the songs have a high level of technicality, keyboards play a prominent role, and the band wisely avoids the kind of lengthy, self-indulgent instrumental clinics that so many others seem powerless to resist. Instead, MindMaze keeps things very accessible through a great use of melody and Sarah Teets’ strong, steady vocal performance. Unlike some vocalists, Teets understands the difference between shouting and singing, and she uses her range and power to great effect here. The vocals are the perfect counterpoint to Jeff Teets’ intricate and melodic guitar work.
And as said above, another strength on this CD is the polished sound and crisp production.
1 – Back from the Edge
2 – Through the Open Door
3 – Moment of Flight
4 – Dreamwalker
5 – The Machine Stops
6 – Consequence of Choice
7 – End of Eternity
8 – Onward (Destiny Calls 2)
Sarah Teets – vocals
Jeff Teets – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Kalin Schweizerhof – drums
Mike LePond (Symphony X) – bass
Jens Johansson (Yngwie, Stratovarius) – keyboards
Matt Johnsen (Pharaoh) – guitar
Lord Tim (Lord) – guitar
BUY IT !