CD Reviews

Mind Key - 'Pulse For A Graveheart' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 29, 2010    
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Excellent music for the heart and the mind.

Italian metal band Mind Key have been in existence since 1999 and were formed by guitarist Emanuelle Colella and keyboard player Dario De Cicco, but it wasn’t until 2004 that they finally released their first album. With a line-up that also included drummer Andrea Stipa, bassist Raffaele Castaldo and singer Mark Basile, ‘Journey Of A Rough Diamond’ was also put out by Frontiers records, but singer Basile left before the album was released and they drafted in Aurelio Fierro Jr. to play dates supporting Dream Theater, Vision Divine and Pendragon, along with an appearance at ProgPower Europe. Fierro left the band just before they recorded a live DVD with Giorgio Adams behind the mic, and the band kind of disappeared off the radar for a while. Now they’re back with this new album and with Fierro back in the band, and what a find he is!

Unusually for an Italian band the instrumental quartet remains the same (DGM take note!), the album is a huge step up in quality and there are some very notable special guests, but more of them later. Mind Key operate at the song-oriented accessible end of the prog-metal spectrum, with all tracks having catchy staccato riffs, a verse/chorus format and nice line in keyboard and guitar solos.

‘Sunset Highway’ kicks the album off with the first in a series of staccato riffs and swirling synth parts, and whilst it’s a good start the vocals sound unbelievably like Jorn Lande, even down to the lyrics. Thankfully Fierro manages to avoid that pitfall for the rest of the album… and sounds more like Russell Allen from Symphony X. If you get off on bands like Circus Maximus and Vision Divine (two other acts also on the Frontiers label), then there’s plenty here for you, from the delightfully melodic ‘The Seventh Seal’ to the light and shade of the brilliant ‘Eye Of A Stranger’. The great thing about Mind Key is that even the dark passages are soon followed by something melodic and uplifting, with most of the songs having different parts and tempos whilst still returning to the catchiest refrains.

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There are some interesting special guests here too, like Derek Sherinian adding his distinctive keyboards to ‘Citizen Of Greed’ or Fierro trading vocal lines with Evergrey’s Tom Englund on the heaviest track on the album, ‘Graveheart’. Perhaps the most surprising is the lengthy ‘Now Until Forever’ with it’s odd jazz-rock scales and Reb Beach’s guitar gives it a Jeff Beck vibe amongst it’s many twists and turns. My favourite track is the upbeat commerciality of ‘Dead Fame Hunter’, which is a swirling morass of quirky riffs and uplifting vocal parts, along with a solo that makes you feel like your heart’s about to burst through your chest, but they can be gentle too with a tuneful solo guitar instrumental and the classy ballad with a string section called ‘A New Generation’ on which the rest of the band come crashing in two-thirds of the way through for a stirring finale.

On their debut album Mind Key showed some promise, with Aurelio Fierro Jr. fronting the band they’ve come a long way towards fulfilling it. Excellent music for the heart and the mind.

Phil Ashcroft

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