REVIEW: MINDMAZE – “Resolve”
MindMaze are finally back on the scene with ‘Resolve’ – their third studio album, and the follow-up to 2014’s ‘Back from the Edge’.
Starting off the album with an instrumental track like “Reverie” is something you don’t see very often in a power metal band. With the track clocking in at just over four minutes and featuring a blend of acoustic and electric guitars and some solid solos, it opens the album at a good pace. At any live show, it will probably be used as time-filler, but it’s still worth a listen.
Next up is “Fight the Future”. Vocalist Sarah Teets, the founding member of the band along with her brother Jeff Teets, sounds in fine form. The music itself has a nice, fast tempo to it that compliments rather than distracts from her lyrical work. Jeff, on guitars, has a rather good solo in the middle of the song. It went on a little too long in my opinion, but it doesn’t detract from the sound and feel of the song.
Following this is “In This Void”, another instrumental track. However, this song is much shorter than the opening song, and mostly just a piano solo, but it keeps the album moving along just fine.
We are then greeted by the synthesised opening to “Drown Me” which quickly moves into guitar work rather similar to the opening bars of “Fight the Future”. It soon picks up, and the vocals are very impressive. But being well over 8 minutes in length does the song no favours, as it isn’t long before it begins to drag and become dull. Even a somewhat atmospheric middle to the track, and some nice guitar solos aren’t enough to save the tracks, and I found myself feeling grateful when it was finally over.
“Sign of Life” is another track that sounds too like “Fight the Future”, but with a slower tempo this time. The same is true with the next track, “Abandon”; it’s nearly identical in sound to everything else before it on the album, with precious few differences. The band seem to just have one generic sound which they copy again and again – something I had hoped wouldn’t be the case, as it’s all too common in the power metal genre.
Another short instrumental track in “Sanity’s Collapse” plays through as we move into the second half of the album. “One More Moment” after it is finally a track that sounds different to “Fight the Future”. It opens with some nice piano work which continues for the first minute of the nearly five-minute track. Sarah’s vocals are again on point – as is the guitar work – as some life is finally pumped back into an album that I had feared was going to just repeat itself again and again. In a nice bit of symmetry that mirrors its opening, the song closes with another short piano solo.
“Twisted Dream” is up next, and it’s another song that gives me some hope for the album. It opens to some great sounding guitar and drums work, and though it is perhaps a little too long at just under seven minutes, it doesn’t have that same feeling of having gone on too long that “Drown Me” did. The vocals and backing vocals are quite good on this track, although at times seeming to be drowned out by the band. They are perfectly audible, but the music distracts from the vocals more than it compliments them.
“True Reflection” makes it three in a row for good songs. Sarah’s vocals are the star of this track, in a song unlike the previous in style – in that the instrumental work doesn’t detract from her work behind the mic. Well, for the first half of the track anyway. The second half of this nearly 6-minute song is almost purely instrumental, though Sarah makes a brief reappearance at the end.
The second half of this track continues to prove itself much better than the first with “Shattered Self”. At just three and a half minutes long, it seems to fly by after the last few songs. And the brevity is actually a good thing – not just for the change up, but also because I was left both surprised and a little bit sad it was over when the closing bars faded into silence. As with most of the album, while the vocals are on point, the instrumental work – especially the guitars – are the main stars of the show, with a couple of solos throughout the track that are quite impressive.
The penultimate song is “Release”, which opens a lot slower and more quietly than any of the other tracks. The opening thirty seconds could have easily been from a Nox Arcana song. The song continues in its quiet, soulful style for a couple of minutes before the electric guitars finally kick in around the three-minute mark. It seemed out of place though, and the song likely would have been better if it had stopped at the four-minute mark, as the final thirty seconds of electric guitar and drum work just don’t mesh with the overall sound of the song.
The album closes out with “The Path to Perseverance”. I thought “Drown Me” lasted too long, but then this song clocked out at eleven-and-a-half minutes. The length is almost necessary for what the song does though – it showcases every style that the rest of the album featured, with an acoustic guitar section, piano solos and fast electric guitar work making an appearance alongside a mix of soulful yet fast-paced vocal work. It’s a difficult song to judge. On the one hand, it’s a very cool idea, and the difference parts of the song all show the best that the album had to offer. But on the other hand, the different parts of the song don’t blend together very well. The transitions from one style to the next seem a little… clumsy. This song could have been fantastic, but it ends up as an eclectic mash-up that doesn’t work as well as it should have. All in all, it’s a good ending to the album, but not as good a song as a few of the tracks it supposedly emulates.
‘Resolve’is a mixed bag. There are times when it’s really good and other times when it’s downright bad. To her credit, Sarah Teets is a constant high point in this album. However, the album starts well but loses its way badly in the middle with a lot of repetition on some songs.