Poverty's No Crime - Slave To The Mind


Year of Release: 1999
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD039/SPV 085-31662CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:39:00

There are many bands in the progressive metal world that go relatively unnoticed over the years, some are obvious as to why and some are not so obvious. Poverty's No Crime is one of those bands that have been an overlooked gem for years and I still can't understand why. The band is signed to Inside Out and it seems that very few know about this German, melodic prog metal band.

Over the past few years, I've watched the band mature with each disc they've released, and I knew that the band had potential to release gem on the unsuspecting world, and with their latest release, Slave To The Mind, I believe that the band has found it's stomping grounds and pulled out all the plugs. Their first disc ( I believe ), called Symbiosis, was a luke warm start with the band seemingly experimenting with their sound and playing it safe; mainly, staying within reasonable beats and tempos, and rarely reaching past the horizon that would propel them into progressive bliss. Their second release, Autumn Years, was an excellent release, with the band obviously comfortable to branch out past their self inflicted limits and become a truly admirable progressive metal band. With a huge, thick sound that I've always found resembled a less complex, melodic version of Mayadome meeting Threshold, their huge wall of guitar sounds mixed with keyboards and long, epic songs were stifled to some extent by an average production for a band on the Inside Out label. It was obvious that the band needed just a small push over the edge and they would either write their way into the progressive metal world or stay in the progressive abyss that many bands find themselves in for one reason or another. With Slave To The Mind, the band seems very comfortable and has provided us with another excellent, even better than the last effort, melodic / progressive disc.

THE STYLE

I can't help but hear a Mayadome sound when I hear this band. The wall of guitar sound, the melodic, warm keys, and the constant barrage of interesting twists and turns along the way constantly remind me of that Mayadome sound we all know and love. In addition, I do hear some Threshold in the music as well, maybe from the Extinct Instinct era, meaning that the music is much less complex than Mayadome's, but they take the warm melodies of Threshold and mix in both styles with their own brand of melodies and come up with the Poverty's No Crime sound. This time, the band has focused more on those melodies, while at the same time, keeping the guitar crunch and the constant change in tempo that makes up the PNC sound. Incorporating long, epic songs, most averaging 6-7 minutes in length, the band manages to write with that song-within-a-song style that Mayadome and several other bands use to keep the listener always interested in the music and never allowing the music to become stagnant or monotonous. All the while, it's very easy to tap your feet to this music, and you will definitely find yourself doing that when you hear this music.

The band has also focused on their lyrics this time out as well - in that they have written a book of lyrics with this disc and seem to have excelled in that area as well. Most of the lyrics have to do with well thought out, abstract ideas and themes, and the band will keep you thinking with their meaningful messages along the way.

THE BAND:

Marco Ahrens / Guitars
Marcello Maniscalco / Keyboards & Vocals
Andreas Tegeler / drums
Volker Walsemann / Vocals & guitars
Christian Scheele / bass

The band is driven by the huge, crunching twin guitar attack of Ahrens & Walsemann, and Walsemann is credited with the writings. The interesting aspect of this band is that there aren't many guitar solos to be found on the disc - not in the sense as we normally know where there are obligatory solos found at certain, obvious places on the disc. Here, there are just mostly rhythm passages between the two guitarists, playing chords and solo passages off on each other instead of showboating. A very cool approach. The bottom end is held up by the bass and drum duo with the drummer a standout on the disc - for some reason Tegeler stands out in the music, something very unusual these days unless you're a Teddy Moller or Portnoy and you can't help but focus on their playing. Tegeler makes his own statement on the disc, and manages to keep his parts interesting and very progressive while again managing to allow the listener to keep time most of the way.

The keyboards are used as an atmospheric backdrop to the guitars and produces some nice melodies. The keys are not used as heavy as maybe on an Ivanhoe disc, but full and rich when needed and mostly string oriented.

THE VOCALS:

The great Erik Welty and I once had a long discussion about this singer - and he claimed that Volker Walseman sounded just like Damian Wilson of Threshold only in a lower range. The less than average production on Autumn Years was my defense against this and I argued that this was not true. Upon hearing Slave To The Mind, I can safely say with confidence that he sounds just like Damian Wilson in a lower range. Try to imagine if Damian Wilson (ex-Threshold by the way) sung in a lower range and you'd have exactly what Volker sounds like. From the first PNC disc, I always thought that his range was limited to his tone, in that I wanted him to let loose on the vox and be a bit more forceful, but then I realized that he sang with plenty of emotion and on the new disc, he sings his best. He is emotional and seems to want to really bring the lyrics to life, something that he hasn't been able to do because of the earlier productions.

THE PRODUCTION:

Which leads me to my favorite part of my reviews, and certainly my Achilles heel. PNC has been plagued with less than average productions in the past, although on Autumn Years, all it would take would have been just a bit more crankage on a few buttons to have that one brought up to quality. Here, I believe that they have the sound that they deserve, as this one is their finest sound, although not without complaints.

The sound is definitely fuller than before - and more up front. The guitars for one are more crunchier, although still seem a little hollow at times when you expect that nice, booming crunch to appear any second. The separation between the guitars and bass is excellent. Although the bass is bit boomy ( if you use a subwoofer you'll hear this ), it can be heard right through the guitars and that is something not easily achieved these days in prog metal, especially with this band complement. The keyboards sound about right - easily heard, but in the background producing warm, melodic string passages to round out the full sound this band has. Occasionally, Marcello uses an organ and some piano, but mostly I'm hearing strings throughout. The drums stand out in the sound - way up front, and my complaints come from this dept. Lately, bands have been using that Portnoy, tinny snare drum sound that some love, and others hate. I'm one of those that would love a snare drum and kick drum to sound thick, rich and full and allow me to feel the beat rather than just to keep time with. This sound gives the listener a sense that there is more to this band than meets the ear, but their earlier efforts sounded the same, so I imagine that this is intentional on the bands part. The vocals have always been recorded on an equal basis with the instruments and this disc is no exception. The vocals can be heard, but just a slight tweak on the sound board would have done Volker more justice, but as it stands, he sounds just fine.

THE VERDICT

Poverty's No Crime has found a winner - and hopefully the disc that will put them on the progressive map. They've cranked up every aspect of their musicianship, songwriting, and the sound dept. It's great to see a band progress and mature with each outing, and to finally be able to hear what a band can really do when given the chance. I do hope that disc gets the notoriety it truly deserves. It has all of the right ingredients for a great progressive metal disc in every sense of the word and I believe that many would find this band a worthy contender for their prog collection. If you like your songs epic, progressive, melodic, and can imagine what a less complex version of Mayadome would sound like crashing into Threshold, with a lower ranged Damian Wilson at the helm, you have a pretty good idea of what Poverty's No Crime sounds like. The disc seems to be a little scarce right now, and I can't figure out why Inside Out doesn't push this band more than others - they have all the right ingredients and push all the right buttons to be more than a worthy addition to a prog metal fan's collection.


Tracklisting:
Access Denied / The Distant Call / A Matter Of Mind / The Senses Go Blind / Wind And Light / Manic / Electronic Eyes / Now And Again / Live In The Light

Musicians:
Marco Ahrens - guitars
Marcello Maniscalco - keyboards & vocals
Andreas Tegeler - drums
Volker Walsemann - vocals & guitars
Christian Scheele - bass

Discography:
Symbiosis (1995)
Autumn Years (1996)
Slave To The Mind (1999)
One In A Million (2001)
The Chemical Chaos (2003)
Save My Soul (2007)

Genre: Progressive/Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: October 11th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.povertys-no-crime.de
Hits: 775
Language: english

  

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