Mind Odyssey - Signs

Year of Release: 1999
Label: B-Mind
Catalog Number: 27004
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:38:00

Mind Odyssey is one of those bands you either love or hate. There seems to be no in between when it comes to this band. I think that one of the reasons for this is because of the way the band changes styles and musical approach with each disc they release. Prog metal fans will no doubt look at that statement and wonder why a band that might exemplify the genre (the ability to change at will) would be hated.

If we look at their previous work, an answer might be found.

Keep It All Turning showed the bands' obvious influences with the Judas Priest meets Helloween approach - from the guitar chord structures, to the high pitched, unique toned singing of Mario LeMole, who more than resembles the Rob Halford of old. The straight ahead, guitar driven metallic sound of the band really put them into a typical German power metal style along with many others, and didn't impress the prog fans, and gave the power fans nothing much to rave about, although the disc is very well done.

Schizophrenia was met with terrible reviews, negative reactions from fans, and generally this disc went unnoticed in any genre due to the almost hard rock style and approach which was toned down quite a bit from their previous effort. This disc didn't do much for band popularity.

Nailed To The Shade showed that the band could easily fit into the prog metal genre as well as the power metal genre, and this disc is what I believe is their best to date. It showcases not only the bands' ability to write quality songs, but also the quality vocals of LeMole, and brought us a new guitar hero in Victor Smolski, who also has a hand in producing most of Mind Odyssey's music. The music was diverse, heavy, melodic, and the song writing was in top notch, but still, fans felt that something was still missing. Complaints of too many fillers, not enough prog, not enough power, too diverse, no memorable songs plagued this disc. It was evident that Mind Odyssey needed and could write the monster they needed to make their statement in the metal world.

Enter Signs. Generally speaking, most who have heard this have given this their seal of approval, indicating an overall acceptance to the disc but still not blown away in the meantime. To these ears, the disc is not quite as heavy as Nailed, not as diverse, and the band seems to have felt comfortable with their simplistic writing style of previous discs. The disc has its moments, admittedly, and again I say that the band seems to lose its sense of writing direction along the way and they seem to lose their identity as the disc moves along. This situation has always plagued them, and a "greatest hits" disc is in order for this band. They have enough powerful songs from each disc to make one, excellent disc; a disc the band needs to put them on the map.

Signs is basically built around the melodic catchiness of Keep It All Turning, injected with the newly found crunching metal sound of the nice guitar work from Smolski. Smolski has always been the highlight of the band, with his one-man guitar-pyrotechnics show and his ability to obtain an interestingly dry sound from the recording of the disc. Throughout the disc you will find those trademark killer songs that we all know they can write, but still found are the filler songs that plague just about every disc since Keep It All Turning. The band seems to lose direction somewhere along the way as if they have run out of ideas for the next song.

LeMole is still in his typical pissed-off-Halford-with-a-twang voice, and always interesting, especially when surrounded by the heavy crunch of the guitars. Other times, he sounds a bit bored, and this happens during those filler songs I speak of.

The keyboards which garnished Nailed To The Shade so nicely seem to have taken back seat to the guitars, which in itself is not a bad thing, but the band seems to shine when keyboards and guitars are all full complement (check out the song "Memoires" from Nailed). The guitars are the focal point of this band, as of now anyway, and have taken over the driving chores - and for guitar heads, Smolski is a ball of fire unto himself.

The style is pretty much a combination of their previous discs, minus the diversity of Nailed To The Shade. It's more a straight-ahead approach, and they have forsaken the prog path they started out on with Nailed. Filled with smoking guitars, leads, crunches, hard rock styles, metal styles, Smolski is worth the price of these discs alone. Pretty straight forward, head banging approach to metal can be found here, and those who tire of "typical" German power metal might find this a bit boring and uninteresting. It seems to be more of a basic power metal style, with some interesting bits of acoustic guitars; almost jazzy-like in style injected with their power metal style they started out with. Is it possible the band has run out of ideas at this point? Or could it be that the band has found their comfort zone and has opted to stay within this safe zone?

The production is not as good as I found Nailed To The Shade's to be - although most every Mind Odyssey disc sounds very good - with its almost dry, natural sound throughout without the use of many effects except in the guitar dept. LeMole has a good enough, unique sounding voice and his voice is pretty much left alone as usual. The drums have a dry, natural sound to them, but sound pretty dense as well. It's the guitar sound that dominates the sound, which are heavy, crunchy and ballsy. Smolski seems to crank up the crunch with each release. The disc, however, is a bit plagued by the guitar / bass recording, which seems too integrated, and the sound result is a boomy, muddy sound that makes your speakers sound like they are in a cave. It's not a healthy sound for sub-woofer users as it sounds like a huge cavern instead of the tightness that subs crave.

The vocals are nicely recorded, although LeMole's accent and style might make it a bit difficult to understand him.

Overall, Mind Odyssey is still in search of that killer disc that will make them a name in the metal world. It's obvious from their ability to write some killer songs, that they do have the ability to do so. Why and how the band seems to fade out within each disc is a mystery to me considering the talent level of the band. For those seeking something different in their metal, I doubt that you will find much to write home about from Signs. But for those who just like to enjoy some decent power metal with some interesting touches added here and there, this might do the trick; but I do recommend Nailed To The Shade as a starting point, at least from a prog metal stand point. It's easily their most diverse and interesting. For straight-ahead power metal with air guitar leads, Keep It All Turning is the choice. I wish I could say better things about Signs, but I still maintain that the band needs and can write a totally killer disc without the use of fillers to complement the rest of the disc. I hope the band does manage to find their direction and stick with the path that will lead them to the rest of the metal world who have not yet discovered this band.

Fountain Of Music (1:32) / Men Of No Return (5:25) / Golden Age (5:55) / In The Picture (7:31) / Slaves Of The Desert (6:56) / Born Bastards (4:56) / Welcome Demon (6:54) / Signs (6:59) / The Liar (5:25)

Mario Le Mole - vocals
Victor Smolski - guitars, sitar, keyboards
Jan Michael Keller - bass
Andreas Dirksmeier - keyboards
Volker Schultz - drums

Keep It All Turning (1993)
Schizophrenia (1995)
Nailed To The Shade (1998)
Signs (1999)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: May 1st 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Hits: 859
Language: english


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