Mastermind - Angels Of The Apocalypse

Year of Release: 2000
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD053/SPV 085-31872CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:12:00

Angels Of The Apocalypse is the first release featuring the new line-up with singer Lisa Bouchelle, and again puts them one step higher on the prog ladder. The album was already released in Japan on November 21st (you lucky bastards!) but is now available in the rest of the world.

Again featuring the help of guest keyboard wizard Jens Johansson (Stratovarius, Yngwie Malmsteen), the new Mastermind album leans more towards prog metal than ever before. I remember very vividly how impressive the first Mastermind releases were for ELP freaks but then the brain of Bill Berends (to be seen in full 'bloom' on the cover of the band's first album) suddenly changed course, limiting the lush symphonic textures in favour of hard biting rock anthems. Opening track "The End Of The World" is exactly as its title implies, and that "end" is reached at by Rich Berends' powerful double bass drumming, Bouchelle's voice, which gets close to that of Pat Benatar with a pinch of Lana Lane, and, of course, some ace, freaky guitar work courtesy of the midi-knowledge signed Bill "The Pirate" Berends.

"2000 Years" sounds as if Rush/Vai/Satriani and fusion all came together in the same spot. I really love the intricate sound of the acoustic guitar here! "The Queen Of Sheba" is a nice example of "prog metal fusion," what with Bill and Jens battling it out on their respective instruments. A medieval feel and harpsichord gets the name Stratovarius on the tip of your tongue, yet "With Dignity And Grace" evolves into an unmistakable Mastermind classic with Bill shining on acoustic guitar as if he was Al Di Meola's brother! Jens gets to show just how fast his fingers can glide over the keys in "The Beast Of Babylon' ending in style with the appropriate growling of John Paoline. The actual album's end comes by means of the masterpiece "The Endless Enigma," once the highlight of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. However Mastermind has made sure this version differs enough from the original to really make it a true Mastermind composition - real musical fireworks! In the vocal sections it takes a bit getting used to; after all we've been listening to Greg Lake for all this time and now it's Lisa's turn to hit the big time. The album sports one more song in the form of the bonus track "Only In My Dreams," which comes close to the region of Lana Lane, with Johansson taking Erik Norlander's place.

If you thought Excelsior! was Mastermind's best album ever, wait till you hear Angels Of The Apocalypse. This band is like wine: they get better and better with age. Now get yourself a magnum of this new album.

Also released by InsideOut in North America (IOMACD 2010) and Avalon (JVC) in Japan (MICY-1153)

The End Of The World (10:35) / Perchance To Dream (6:19) / 2000 Years (6:16) / This Lover's Heart (6:00) / The Queen Of Sheba (6:26) / With Dignity And Grace (3:35) / A Million Miles Away (6:30) / The Beast Of Babylon (5:30) / The Endless Enigma (12:18) / Only In My Dreams (6:03)

Lisa Bouchelle - vocals
Bill Berends - guitar, midi guitar, bass, and vocals
Rich Berends - drums
Jens Johansson - keyboards
Bob Eckman - 5 string bass (1,7)
Hollis Brown (Ozone Quartet) - electric violin (2, 5)
John Paoline (Mortal Decay) - voice of the beast (1, 8)

Volume One (1990)
Volume Two: Brainstorm (1992)
Tragic Symphony (1994)
Until Eternity (1996)
Live In Tokyo (1997)
Excelsior! (1999)
Angel Of The Apocalypse (2000)
Prog, Fusion, Metal, Leather & Sweat (2000)
Broken (ep) (2005)
Insomnia (2010)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: June 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Hits: 2692
Language: english


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