Review

VANDROYA Beyond the Human Mind

Album · 2017 · Power Metal
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5/5 ·
DippoMagoo
Out of all metal bands to come out of Brazil, my favorite is progressive power metal band Vandroya, who absolutely blew me with their 2013 debut One, and so even in a month as crowded with big new releases as April 2017 has been, their sophomore release Beyond the Human Mind was one I absolutely had to hear. One was an album where everything just clicked with me immediately and I loved the seamless blend between power and prog elements, as well as the amazing lead vocals, and so I had very high expectations for Beyond the Human Mind. Thankfully, there’s no sophomore slump for this band, as they have delivered another excellent album that very much falls in line with their debut, while also having a slightly rougher, more raw sound that works out quite well.

On One, Vandroya managed to take influences from bands such as Angra and Symphony X, while very much developing their own sound, and this continues on Beyond the Human Mind. If anything, I’d say the two main influences from the debut, while still there at times, are much less noticeable here, and I mostly notice some Helloween in the rawer sound and in the energy of some of the speedier passages. This is definitely a rawer, harder-hitting album in compared to their debut, with the duo guitars very much being the focus of the music, and the production is definitely a bit less polished this time around, but if anything that just makes the music all the more hard-hitting and powerful. At the same time, while the music is definitely aggressive at times, there’s still some great melodies here and the vocal lines are every bit as brilliant as on the debut. Where the debut was a more even mix between power and prog, most tracks on this release tend to lean closer to the former, while occasionally adding in elements of the latter, and so most tracks are fairly fast paced and a bit more straight-forward compared to songs on the debut, although there’s still some more complex instrumental portions, especially on the 10 minute epic title track that closes the album.

As much as I loved the music on One, my favorite element of that album was vocalist Daisa Munhoz, and that remains as true as ever on this album. Her voice is as fierce and powerful as ever, and on the heavier tracks, she provides some very aggressive and energetic vocals that match the intensity of the music, while still being able to rein herself in enough to deliver huge choruses, all while stealing the show every time she sings. On the debut, she also excelled during softer portions, where she was able to soften her voice up and sing a lot more calmly and very beautifully, while also singing with a lot of emotion, and of course, that also remains as true as ever on this release. In short, she has once again given one of the best vocal performances I’ve heard on a metal album in recent years and remains one of my favorite vocalists in all of metal.

Songwriting is another area where the debut was pretty much flawless, and this is again true of Beyond the Human Mind. There’s a nice variety between the tracks, and everything flows very nicely. The album begins with the intro track “Columns of Illusion”, which starts out as your typical epic orchestral intro, before the drums and guitars slowly kick in midway through, and then later on the guitar starts to dominate with some great solos and the music picks up in intensity, serving as a great beginning for the album. After that, opening song “The Path to the Endless Fall” kicks in and is the kind of straight-forward, high-speed assault fans would expect as the opener for a power metal album. The guitars are heavy and sound great right out of the gate, and the track moves at a frantic pace, very much having a classic power metal feel, and the rawness of the guitars can immediately be noticed, before Daisa takes over and delivers excellent vocals throughout the verses, and then completely steals the show during the chorus. The solo section is also very energetic and quite memorable, and all around it’s an excellent opening track.

The next track, “Maya”, has a slightly more modern feel to it, with slightly punchier guitars. It starts off with some fast riffs, before turning into more of a mid-paced prog song with slight power metal leanings. During the opening verse the guitars remain heavy, but as it moves along the keyboards slowly kick in, and we get a more relaxing section before the amazing chorus shows up for the first time, and the track does a nice job of alternating between heavy guitar led sections and calmer keyboard driven sections, all while allowing Daisa to shine throughout. It’s solo section is also really nice and features some great guitar work, as usual. Next is “Time After Time”, the first of a couple tracks where I notice a slight hard rock edge in the guitars, though for the most part it’s a speedy power metal track, where the chorus effectively uses a slow section to build up energy before the music again goes full speed, and it’s a really awesome chorus, easily one of my favorites on the album. The last two speedy tracks are “I’m Alive”,a fairly simple and fast paced track which also has a slight hard rock edge to its riffs, as well as one of the more fun solo sections on the album and a fun chorus, and “You’ll Know My Name”, possibly the fastest, most energetic track on the album, which has some very heavy riffs and catchy vocals during the verses, and keeps the energy going throughout, with a great chorus and another memorable extended instrumental section in the second half. ‘

On the calmer side of things, the album has two ballads “Last Breath” and “If I Forgive Myself”. Usually, I don’t like when power metal albums have two ballads, but these two tracks are both excellent and they’re spread out perfectly so that that they don’t slow down the momentum of the album. Both tracks feature some of the best vocals I’ve heard from Daisa, with some stunning choruses and bridge sections. “Last Breath” is led by acoustic guitars, while “If I Forgive Myself” is a piano ballad, and while I love both tracks a lot, it;s the former that slightly wins out for me, mostly because it has probably the best vocal section on the entire album, followed by a really beautiful guitar solo.

Lastly, the title track is a mostly mid-paced progressive metal track, with some heavy guitars throughout. It almost serves as a power ballad throughout the first half, but then in the middle we get a very long instrumental section where the guitars get heavier and becomes a more complex, prog track with some excellent solos, and this section is definitely one of the highlights of the album, while Daisa sounds as amazing as always on the chorus.

Overall, Beyond the Human Mind feels like a natural evolution from One, leaning a bit more towards a classic power metal sound, while still including some modern prog elements and some excellent instrumental sections. It’s a rawer, more powerful sounding album, and once again it features some incredible songwriting as well as one of my current favorite vocalists in metal. Just as in 2013, Vandroya has delivered one of the best progressive power metal albums of the year, and I highly recommend this release for existing fans of the band, as well as any prog and power metal fans who want something that mixes together both genres nicely, while featuring some incredible vocals.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2017/04/21/vandroya-beyond-human-mind-review/
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