Mastermind - III - Tragic Symphony

Year of Release: 1995
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 026
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:14:00

Though Mastermind's third release is their shortest, it is one of their most satisfying, if you like your progressive rock to be symphonic. There's a lightness to every track and some wonderful accoustic work as well. It only goes to show how Mr. Berends can work his way around any type of guitar he can grab his hands on.

"Tiger Tiger" sets things off in a short 4 minute burst. It's lofty and towering in mood, amplified by some of Berends best vocals to date and a powerful melody to boot. "The Power and the Passion," at nearly thirteen minutes, takes Mastermind back into the epic arena. I'm not too fond of the opening seconds, with a thin synth piping out what sounds like the beginning to a Roman b-movie. But the moment the lead guitar enters, it cooks. The song goes through plenty of changes and the difference between the softer and harder passages are more pronounced than ever before. However, by this song's conclusion, it is clear that Berends intension is to make a mellower album than the first two.

"All The King's Horses" is similar to the first track, with a mid tempo, lumbering beat, not at all lightweight, but more reflective than piercing. And the accoustic opening is gentler than anything Mastermind has done. The vocals and melody also roll into a level of commercialism that is rare for Mastermind. But it all comes from the heart and Berends voice has never been better. I love the track and hope to see more of the same in the future.

"Sea Of Tears" begins with spacey textures then rips into a fusion driven passage, landing soon into a powerful vocal passage. This is a great song from beginning to end, full of the grandoise bravado that Mastermind is noted for. "Nothing Left To Say" follows with more accoustic textures. The more listens to this CD, the more all the beautiful moments like in songs like this just begin to wash all over you. Again the vocals and melody is beautiful, but the accoustic guitar's presence is throughout, lending almost a medieval feel to the piece. The lyrics are also touching. Mention of Rich Berends drumming, excellent throughout the cd, is necessary only because of his subtlety and restraint. He's often bombardistic but on Tragic Symphony Rich works with the material.

After stunning guitar synth interplay, we're left with the final track, "Into The Void". Another epic, "Void" takes it's time lifting off. It's definitely more of regular Mastermind when it does get going with a lot of powerful fusion driven passages and kick ass drumming. There's even the odd metal riffing. It ends with a sizzling finale, complete with complex orchestration. After a big change in sound, Mastermind obviously wanted to leave fans with a taste of previous works.

So after 48 minutes, Tragic Symphony concludes. Though I feel the last song is the weakest, I have to say that Tragic Symphony is a brilliant album and, besides the current live release, a good starting place for someone interested in checking this great US Prog band out.

Released in 1994 in Japan by ZERO/Toshiba-EMI (XRCN-1194); in 1995 in the US by Prozone/Dutch East (PRO595-2) and in Korea by Jigu Records (JRCD-5124)

Tiger! Tiger! (3:45) / The Power & The Passion (12:48) / All The King's Horses (4:43) / Tragic Symphony: I. Sea Of Tears (7:18) / II. Nothing Left To Say (6:08) / III. Into The Void (13:30)

Bill Berends - guitars, midi-guitar, vocal, bass
Rich Berends - drums, timpani, & percussion
Phil Antolino - bass & midi-pedals (live)

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 Rock

Origin US

Added: June 1st 2000
Reviewer: Richard Zywotkiewicz

Artist website:
Hits: 2842
Language: english


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