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Mastermind - Insomnia (8/10) - USA - 2010

Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Lion Music
Playing time: 50:18
Band homepage: Mastermind

Tracklist:

  1. Desire
  2. Break Me Down
  3. One More Night
  4. Meltdown
  5. Piggy World
  6. No Answer
  7. Broken
  8. Night Flier
  9. Nietzsche
  10. Last Cigarette
Mastermind - Insomnia

Some of the bands under the Lion Music umbrella really stretch the meaning of the term Progressive Metal, and MASTERMIND are probably among the more blatant examples of this. While this band has been around for quite a while, this is essentially a brand new incarnation that does just about everything that it can to differentiate itself from just about every other band out there. They are fronted by a vocalist that sounds like a composite of several different Pop/Rock singers from decades past - of which the first one that enters my mind is Deborah Harry - and they hit just about every style of music that can be fathomed.

“Insomnia” lives up to its name, in the sense that the one writing the songs here was probably up at all hours for months coming up with the way to get all of these differing ideas to fit together into a single album. There’s folksy acoustic ballads, depressive gothic-sounding Rock, Traditional Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, and 70s-80s Progressive Rock ala RUSH smattered all over this thing, often separated by the particular song that is in play. All of it is performed quite well, as if the album were a VA compilation of 10 different bands. Perhaps the biggest flaw in this is that the audience for all of these differing styles might go for the other stuff accompanying their preferred genre.

In terms of standout songs, every song tends to stand alone in terms of its quality and distinctiveness, but from my own tastes, there are a few that go more in the direction I look for. “Desire” does a fairly decent job at merging an old school NWOBHM riff with a somewhat easy going mixture of lighter Rock themes. “Meltdown” really goes off well with a low end, pounding guitar groove and a trudging beat that is well in line with heavier Progressive Metal bands. “Piggy World” meshes an 80s Glam sounding riff with a total Punk oriented set of lyrics and vocalizations, almost like a perfect nod to the occasional flirtations with mainstream accessibility by THE PLASMATICS. And for the RUSH fanatic in me, there is a brilliant instrumental technical display in “Night Flier” that shares some commonalities with “YYZ”.

Although perhaps not the most genre consistent album I’ve encountered, this is a solid piece of work and will probably have a strong level of appeal to the rank and file of progressive rock circles. It’s not quite as indulgent in technical showmanship as DREAM THEATER or any other bands drawn from their take on this style, but I can see it having an appeal to their audience on a level of overall musical adventurism. But one thing is for certain, this band definitely had originality at the forefront when they went about putting this thing together.

(Online January 21, 2011)

Jonathan Smith



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