Power Metal / Progressive Metal / Heavy Metal • United States
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MindMaze are a power metal band from the United States, originally formed in 2004. The original incarnation of the band was called Necromance. Under this name they released a self-titled demo (2005), and later an EP, Never Look Back (2009). Necromance then broke up.

Necromance was reactivated in 2010, however nothing new was released under the name and in 2012 the band name was changed to MindMaze. MindMaze released their debut album, Mask of Lies, in 2013. Up to this stage in their career MindMaze were more of a traditional heavy metal act, though their sound was characterised by its melodic mix of heavy, power and progressive metal elements, topped off by female vocals.

In 2014 MindMaze released their second album Back From the Edge, bringing with a shift into more of a progressive power metal style. The band also added bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X et al) to the line-up
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MINDMAZE Mask of Lies album cover 4.06 | 9 ratings
Mask of Lies
Heavy Metal 2013
MINDMAZE Back from the Edge album cover 4.52 | 11 ratings
Back from the Edge
Power Metal 2014
MINDMAZE Resolve album cover 4.76 | 8 ratings
Progressive Metal 2017

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.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
Power Metal 2014

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Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
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One of the most promising bands in all of metal right now is American progressive power metal band Mindmaze, led by the brother/sister team of Jeff and Sarah Teets. The band made their debut in 2013 with Mask of Lies, a self-released album that blew me away, as well as being impressive enough that the band was quickly signed by Inner Wound Recordings around a year and a half later, in time for their follow-up release, Back From the Edge, an album that took everything that worked on the debut and changed things up just a bit so it could be a somehow even more impressive sophomore release. With such an impressive start to their career, it seems there’s no limit to their potential, and now with their recently released third full-length album, Resolve, the band has done it once again, kicking into a higher gear than ever before and producing easily their best album to date!

The music of Mindmaze has always consisted of three main elements, those being classic heavy metal riffs and melodies, often along the lines of classic Iron Maiden, energetic power metal riffs and speedy tempos, and complex arrangements that lend a progressive metal feel to their music. The band’s evolution has proven to be quite interesting and unique, in that they haven’t released the same album twice, but they also haven’t completely reinvented their sound on any of their albums either. Instead, it seems with each album they focus more on a different one of their main elements. More specifically, where Mask of Lies seemed to focus more on the heavy metal riffs and melodies, while having touches of power metal and prog, and Back From the Edge pushed the power metal elements to the front while keeping some prog arrangements and using the classic metal elements in bursts, Resolve feels like a full-fledged prog album, but with the energy of a power metal album and at times the feel of classic heavy metal.

In short, this is by far the band’s most ambitious and most complex work to date, featuring some very complicated arrangements on some of the tracks, as well as their best musicianship to date. In fact, some of the instrumental portions on this album are nothing short of stunning, as guitarist, keyboardist and main songwriter Jeff Teets has really gone into overdrive with his solo work, producing solos that are both incredibly impressive on a technical level and yet also very melodic and at times even giving off some emotion, which can be a tough thing to pull off. At the same time, he plays some very heavy, thick sounding riffs, and uses a more down tuned guitar tone than on previous albums, which gives the riffs a very powerful sound, particularly on tracks like “Abandon” and “Twisted Dream”. Obviously, guitars are his main focus, but he does some impressive work on keyboards at times as well, and uses the piano as a driving force behind some of the softer moments on the album, like the power ballad “One Final Moment”. The rest of the band does a great job as well, as bassist Rick Pasqualone is given a ton of space to work with, and even provides some great bass solos, most notably on “Sign of Life”, while new drummer Mark “Truk” Bennet does a great job and fits in nicely with the band. Resolve is the band’s first concept album, and this shows as it’s by far their most cohesive feeling album to date, with the tracks flowing together seamlessly, and there’s some very smooth transitions between tracks, as well as some great interlude tracks. Lastly, the production is again very raw sounding as on Back From the Edge, but this works great as it gives the guitars a very powerful sound, and everything still sounds clear and very well balanced.

As much as this album features some of the best musicianship I’ve heard on a metal album in recent years, vocals remain as important as ever, and once again Sarah Teets has done an amazing job. As on the first two albums, she never sounds showy, but instead, sings with a very natural sounding style that fits the music perfectly, and she does an equally great job on heavier and sections and calmer sections. There’s an increased focus on heavy sections on this album, which means she uses her powerful lower register quite often on verses and sounds as great as ever, while she gets to sing a bit higher on some of the choruses, and there’s also many sections where the lyrics allow her to put in a more emotional performance, and she does all these things equally well.

Perhaps the area where Resolve shines the most is in its songwriting. Mindmaze have shown impressive songwriting skills since their debut, but this time it feels like they’ve really stepped up their game to a new level, with an album that flows perfectly and has the focus of a concept album, while still managing to feature a wide variety of songs, all of which are equally enjoyable and well crafted. I think it says a lot, when brief interludes like “In This Void”, an atmospheric piece is mostly driven by pianos, and “Sanity’s Collapse”, a dark and heavy guitar driven piece, with some excellent solo work in the middle, can stand out just as much as the full-length tracks. The latter in particular is absolutely stunning, and yet it’s not even the best instrumental track on the album. That would be “Reverie”, the four minute opening track that starts off with a nice acoustic section, which is soon recreated on electric guitars, then a little bit later the track speeds up, and from there it turns into a very complex and progressive piece with several tempo changes and some great solo work, with some especially impressive power metal sections in the middle, that have a slightly darker feel to them than similar section on the band’s previous album, and the way track flows seamlessly from moment to moment is truly impressive. Honestly, while it’s only an intro track, it really is one of the best tracks I’ve heard on a metal album all year, and so it immediately sets the bar extremely high for the rest of the album.

After that incredible opening, the first song with vocals is “Fight the Future”, a speedy power metal track which kicks in with some energetic guitar work, before slowing down and getting pretty heavy during the verses, where Sarah makes her first appearance and instantly steals the show. From there, the track picks up the pace again, leading to an excellent chorus, and then, later on, we get some more impressive instrumental sections and some great solo work from Jeff. Next is the previously mentioned “In This Void”, a pretty nice interlude track, and then we get another more prog-driven track in “Drown Me”. This track opens up with a nice keyboard section, which carries over nicely from the previous track, before turning into a fairly heavy mid-paced prog track, with some powerful vocals during the verses and a memorable chorus, and then halfway through we get a nice softer section with some very emotional vocals from Sarah, which leads into a very impressive extended instrumental section that closes the track out. The first single from the album is “Sign of Life”, a track which uses mid-tempo verses with fairly simple guitar work, before speeding up for a very catchy and addictive chorus, but again it’s the instrumental section that really takes the track to next level, as both Rich and Jeff provide some excellent solos. Next, we have “Abandon”, one of the speedier tracks on the album, as well as one of the heaviest. It features some slightly thrashy guitar riffs during the verses, as well as some of the most powerful vocals from Sarah, especially during the chorus, while the solo section is again amazing and has a very classic heavy metal feel to it at one point, which is probably the highlight of the track. Moving into the second half of the album, the amazing interlude track “Sanity’s Collapse” gives way to “One Final Moment”, a piano-led power ballad which starts off very soft, before getting slightly heavier in the second half, and it features some very impressive vocals from Sarah, while the second half as always features an excellent guitar solo, and this is one of the sections in particular where I feel Jeff really managed to pour some emotion into his guitar work, which serves as a great lead-in to the next section, where Sarah gives a very powerful performance. Perhaps the heaviest, most guitar dominant track on the album is “Twisted Dream”, where the intro section very much feels like it comes from a particularly heavy Dream Theater track, and from there the track takes off and turns into a very aggressive sounding mid-paced track, which gives way to one of the most beautiful and melodic choruses on the album. One thing about Mindmaze that’s always been true, they can contrast between very heavy and very melodic sections extremely fluidly, never spending so much time on one or the other that it starts to drag, and this track is a perfect example of that. The instrumental section is, of course, stunning as always, and very heavy.

Starting off the final stretch, “True Reflection” is a fairly calm mid paced track, which has another nice chorus, though once again it’s the instrumental section that really stands out, as this time it starts off feeling like a classic prog instrumental section, before suddenly speeding up and bringing in some power metal elements, which is the kind of thing most prog bands would never do, and yet Mindmaze can pull it off brilliantly. The constant change of tempos on many tracks is a definite highlight, and the second half of this track does that extremely well. The end of the song transitions wonderfully into “Shattered Self”, a brief but very hard hitting speedier track, with some excellent guitar work and vocal sections once again. And of course, because that track is one of the heaviest on the album, it makes since they’d follow it up with “Release”, a vocal driven ballad, which represents the soft end of the album wonderfully. Sarah puts in very emotional and powerful performance, and of course, Jeff provides an excellent solo near the end. Lastly, we have “The Path to Perseverance”, an 11 and a half minute epic, which starts off with a nice guitar solo before speeding up for a wonderful instrumental section, until Sarah comes in the and music slows down for a while. As expected, it’s a very complex and progressive track which covers all the elements of the album wonderfully, with plenty of tempo changes, great riffs, and guitar solos, as well as some nice piano sections, and Sarah delivers some of her best vocals on the entire album. It’s an amazing track which shows off all elements of the album perfectly. And of course, the excellent acoustic piece that opens “Reverie” is used again for the ending, and it closes the album in the best way possible.

In a way, Mindmaze can be tough to review, because it’s like every time they put out a new album I’m blown away and feel like they couldn’t possibly do anything better, then when the next album comes around it ends up somehow proving me wrong. This has happened once again with Resolve, their most complex and progressive album to date, and one which has some absolutely stunning musicianship, to go along with the great power metal elements of their previous album, as well as some awesome vocals as always. Longtime fans of the band should be very happy with the album, and I’d highly recommend to all fans of prog and power metal who want to hear the very best those genres have to offer. This is one release I really don’t see them being able to top, but I can’t wait to hear them give it their best go.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2017/05/07/mindmaze-resolve-review/


Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
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So, there's this American metal band called MindMaze. I hope you've heard of them, otherwise you've been missing out on one of metal's most promising up and coming groups. If you haven't heard of them now is the time to start paying attention. Led by the brother and sister team of Jeff and Sarah Teets, they've released two albums previously, firstly Mask of Lies (2013) and then Back from the Edge (2014). The two albums showcased what can only be described as a rapid musical evolution, with the former mostly being a melodic heavy metal release and the latter being a full-on progressive power metal album. It was a good change for them to make as Back from the Edge was, at least in my view, the best power metal album of 2014. In fact the only power metal album released since that's managed to achieve the same kind of regard from me is The Fire Within (2016) by Eternity's End. I've been wondering for a long time now how MindMaze could possibly hope to top what they did with the album but now that their third full-length Resolve (2017) is here the answer to that actually seems quite simple:

Reinvent themselves again.

While the musical style of Resolve is technically similar to Back from the Edge, it's only in so far as that MindMaze are still blending the elements of power and progressive metal together. This can't be called a progressive power metal album though, because that term implies a power metal album that is progressive. That describes Back from the Edge perfectly, but right from its opening instrumental Reverie it's clear that Resolve is has been made with a different focus in mind. Call it power-progressive metal if you will. This means that the speedy riffs of power metal are still here, but are just a single ingredient in a much more complex and adventurous sound, which will also explain why they're not used quite as much as on the previous release, and the band are playing more with other ideas. The power metal certainly gives their brand of progressive metal some serious energy, the kind that many modern progressive metal albums are sadly in short supply of. I actually got pretty burned out on the genre over the last few years because most of the new releases I was hearing just didn't seem very exciting and I feel that I can safely say that if all newer progressive metal albums were delivered with as much energy, passion, and technical skill as Resolve then my burnout on the genre would never have happened. This is how progressive metal should be.

And about that technical skill, the musicianship of the band's three instrumentalists really is impeccable and they're not afraid to show it off. This is especially true of Jeff Teets who plays both the guitars and keyboards in the band. There's so many well crafted progressive ideas packed into the album that it's actually really hard to review it concisely. Exactly which tracks can be highlighted in an album that every time I listen to it I find that it takes me a little longer to pick my jaw up off the floor? All I can really say is that when even short one and a half minute long instrumentals like Sanity's Collapse stand out just as well as ten plus minute prog epics like the album closer The Path to Perseverance then there's some serious talent gone into creating the album. Every track is basically like gold dust.

Topping off all the excellent musicianship is the voice of Sarah Teets, whose vocals bring everything together into memorable songs. Her performance on the album is as rock solid as the musicianship. She sounds in full control of her abilities and brings a subtle power to her singing that often has her stealing the show. Her melodious and natural sounding voice goes hand in hand with the guitar tone of Jeff Teets to crate an altogether classic metal vibe for the band's songs. I find that a really refreshing aspect about the album actually: too many modern progressive metal acts are going down the road of overly polished productions and symphonic elements (definite respect to Jeff Teets for his use of keyboards in a truly progressive manner rather than just adding symphonic backings here and there), so what MindMaze are doing here stands out as not following the current trends, while also not being Dream Theater worship.

MindMaze always seemed to me to be at their best when they played their most progressive stuff on their first two albums, and with Resolve, their most progressive release to date, I only feel validated in that belief. This is the album I've been wanting to hear from them ever since the first time I heard Mask of Lies. It's no surprise to me how quickly the album has established itself in my regard as their best yet. It's even fair to say that MindMaze have now made three albums that each belong to a different genre. Not many bands can claim that, especially for their first three albums. What's doubly impressive is that as I've pointed out, Back from the Edge is one of my favourite power metal albums of recent years. Now MindMaze have also made one of my favourite progressive metal albums of recent years. I've even doubtful at this point if the new Ayreon album (which coincidentally shares a release date with Resolve) will be able to come close to this. So to close this review and come full circle with my opening: if you've not heard this band yet, then start paying attention right now. Resolve could very well be my album of the year.

MINDMAZE Back from the Edge

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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Time Signature
The machine never stops...

Genre: traditional heavy metal / power metal

Released in 2014, "Back from the Edge" is the sophomore album of the power metal band Mindmaze. They say that it is always difficult to make a second album that lives up to the standard set on the first album. I have not heard Mindmaze's debut, so I do not know how well this one holds up to the debut.

But one thing's for sure. This album is a damn good one, and nobody needs to have heard the debut to know that. Fronted by Sarah Teets on vocals, Mindmaze delivers one strong metal tune after the other. Strongly rooted in traditional metal, the band treats the listener to galloping guitars and layered twin guitar leads. There are even progressive elements scattered across the album which just makes it a further enjoyable experience to listen to the album.

The musicianship is top notch, and fans of Symphony X may be interested to know that Mike LePond plays the bass on this one. Sarah Teets opts for a hard edged, yet melodic, vocal style, which definitely suits the music much better than the operating style that some female vocalists in the power metal genre adopt.

Fans of Symphony X, Iced Earth, Tiger Alpha, Harrow and the like should definitely check this fine album out.

MINDMAZE Back from the Edge

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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Back From the Edge (2014) is the second full-length album by US metal act MindMaze. Having released their debut album Mask of Lies (2013) independently the band have moved up in the world and Back From the Edge is released through Inner Wound Recordings. The band have also added bassist Mike LePond to the line-up, a notable musician best known for none other than the mighty Symphony X among others. Additionally the band has garnered some high profile guest appearances such as Jens Johansson of Stratovarius adding a keyboard solo to Moment of Flight and Matt Johnsen of Pharaoh adding a guitar solo on The Machine Stops.

I'm going to take a little time out from my usual review structure to apologise to my readers, as I had made the promise to try and cover some other genres for a time after realising that a good majority of my current group of 2014 release reviews were for power metal albums. A follow-up to the excellent MindMaze debut Mask of Lies was always high on my personal hype list for the rest of this year, but I thought I'd be safe with my promise when a promo for the album came my way, as in my opinion Mask of Lies was mainly a traditional heavy metal album with power metal and progressive metal leanings, more so the latter than power metal. Turns out though that Back From the Edge is not a heavy metal album, but a progressive power metal album. So sorry readers, the promise is going briefly on hold.

Wait...I'm really not all that sorry about that, for in Back From the Edge MindMaze have produced an album that is possibly the best case of genre evolution I've ever heard, changing the band from a good heavy metal band to an excellent power metal band.

While there are some moments on Back From the Edge that are more like straight-forward power metal songs, such as the lead single Dreamwalker, the album is mostly made up a perfect blend of power and progressive metal ideas so while you'll be getting plenty of those speedy power metal riffs to propel the music along the guitar playing by Jeff Teets in particular has a tendency to veer off into more complex ideas, with the occasional use of keyboards adding another layer to the sound, though the band usually stick to a typical song structure, with most on the album clocking between the four and six minute marks.

At the other end of the spectrum though there are a couple of longer tracks, namely The Machine Stops and Onward (Destiny Calls II). The latter is obviously a follow-up to the closing track from Mask of Lies. It's these longer songs of course that really bring the progressive side of the music out, and Onward (Destiny Calls II) is especially impressive, even including some flute usage that gives the song a very slight folksy vibe. This is the most progressive song on the album and is probably the only one here that I'd call a progressive metal song over a power metal song and despite being the power metal maniac I am, it's also my favourite.

Back From the Edge is quickly impressive for the same reasons that made Mask of Lies such an great debut, but the difference is where Mask of Lies seemed a little unsure about what the band wanted to be, Back From the Edge is a focussed piece of work with strong musicianship all round, amazing energy, and powerful vocals by Sarah Teets. MindMaze have been a pretty unknown entity on the metal scene up until this point, but Back From the Edge is the album that sets out to change that, and will if there is any justice in the world.

I mentioned earlier about trying to leave off power metal reviews for a while because of the large amount I've done this year, but what I neglected to say is that only one of those albums was awarded a top tier score, and folk-power metal albums like that one (Elvenking) are nearly always more recognisable as folk metal releases so really Back From the Edge is the first power metal from 2014 that is a power metal album before it is something else (in this case progressive metal) that I've felt the need to go up to the top tier for. Back From the Edge is really everything fans of female voiced power metal could want, and I don't feel like I'm overhyping it by putting up a 5 star rating. Consider me blown away by the massive progress MindMaze has made in such a short time since their debut.

MINDMAZE Back from the Edge

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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This is a really great power metal album with everything I love in it. Epic, melodic, well written... MindMaze is a unknown band but it's also a good. I love The Machine Stops, a ten minutes epic. Onward and Through The Open Door are also great tracks. After their first album called Mask Of Lies (released in 2013) which is also great, the band publish another power masterpiece. For all the fans of melodic heavy or power, just go and buy this album. I think that it will become a classic album of power metal later. Deserves a 5 on 5 rating. Best metal album of 2014.

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