Available: April 28, 2017 via Inner Wound Recordings
Reviewer (Text): Mason
Reviewer (Audio): Nick
Five and a half years and a name change ago I pledged money on Kickstarter for the first MindMaze album, Mask of Lies, and honestly had no idea what to expect from an unsigned band that had what I thought was a modest funding goal. At worst I figured I would have a unique reminder of obscure metal history as this was my first ever backing on Kickstarter (feel free to follow me there, but be warned most of the projects I back are not music related). However, myself and the other backers were treated to an album that far exceeded expectations, and helped MindMaze attract enough attention from Inner Wound Recordings to sign them before the release of their second album Back From the Edge, which demonstrated growth as musicians, songwriters, and on the production front, as well as increasing the notoriety of the band as they were able to secure the guest services of Symphony X’s Mike LePond on bass. Heading into their third album, my expectations were high. Let’s see how it fares…
Resolve is the third album from Allentown based band, MindMaze. Unlike its predecessors, Resolve is a concept album and it is clear that the band’s message in this album comes from within and is more personal than their previous work.
The cornerstone of the band continues to be guitarist Jeff Teets and his sister, vocalist Sarah Teets. Jeff continues to showcase impressive solos and catchy riffs, and demonstrates a commitment to his craft, as this album is the most diverse musically for the band up to this point, exploring more subdued and softer tones as the story of the album requires. Sarah provides her talents again, and like Jeff continues to find new ground to explore, while sounding as powerful as ever and maintaining her unique qualities among female metal vocalists by rarely going to the soprano range where many of her female colleagues tend to reside. Rich Pasqualone returns as the bass player, resuming his duties from the first album. His talents are more evident this time around as the bass sound is more pronounced on this album than the debut album. The drumming is ably performed by a combination of new member Mark Bennett, as well as Jeff, and their work on the skins is a big reason the album comes together nicely.
While everyone individually performs well, this album is best described as gestalt, and is much greater than the sum of its parts. Where Resolve really separates itself from its predecessors is from the quality and sophistication of the production. Resolve is the richest, most polished sound the band has put out to this point. This album makes the most of layering tracks and creates the richest sound up to this point. The album sees have added notes of spice using production effects sparingly, but at appropriate times on Sarah’s vocals. Gang vocals are also used well for emphasis at times. Another strength of the album is that it is hard to pick standout tracks because the difference between my favorite track and least favorite track is quite small. The album engages the listener from start to finish, with no low point in to speak of in terms of overall enjoyment. As stated earlier, Resolve is also the most musically diverse and exploratory album; it features the band’s most notable ballad, the widest range of musical styles, and the most emotive lyrics the band has put forth to date.
The easy short review of this album is that is their best yet, and that’s not a small feat in of itself. If this album were released in any previous year, it would be a top five album for certain, and if it doesn’t end up in my top five this year then we will have experienced the greatest year of releases in recent memory. If you would have told me in 2011 that an unsigned band trying to release its first album would six years later be releasing an album on the same day as Ayreon, and legitimately be its equal, I would have been skeptical. After playing Resolve over 20 times, I would say Ayreon, along with several other bands, will be gunning to release an album this good on April 28th.
Mason’s grade: A
Disclaimer: Guitarist Jeff Teets of MindMaze is the former co-host of When Prog and Power Unite, however this review has not been influenced or altered due to this fact.
01. Reverie (Instrumental)
02. Fight the Future
03. In This Void (Instrumental)
04. Drown Me
05. Sign of Life
07. Sanity’s Collapse (Instrumental)
08. One More Moment
09. Twisted Dream
10. True Reflection
11. Shattered Self
13. The Path to Perseverance