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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Mindcage

Our Own Devices

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an effective metal album. It leans along the lines of progressive metal and epic metal. It’s often quite theatrical. In fact, sometimes it’s a bit too theatrical for my tastes (particularly in the vocal department). Still, with influences that seem to range from Iron Maiden to Queensryche and even Rush, you can’t go too far wrong here. The final three songs (two of them are parts of a suite) that end the album are the best pieces here and worth the price of admission by themselves.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Cadence March

Less than a minute long, this is a smoking hot classic metal sounding instrumental introduction.

For All Mankind (The Dark Design)
Coming out of the opener, this is classic metal at its heart. It’s perhaps a bit like Iron Maiden, but there is more of a theatrical element at play on the vocals. There is some awesome guitar soloing on this.
Our Own Devices
Moody and dark, this is essentially a progressive metal ballad on the first verse. The vocals there are a little over the top (in terms of a theatrical delivery, not extreme metal) to me. That’s not so much true later. This calls to mind vintage Queensryche quite a bit. It’s a diverse and dynamic piece that’s quite effective.
The Human Race
There is a dramatic progressive metal introduction to this that gives way to a killer riff driven jam. In a lot of ways this feels like a theatrical metal version of an operatic concept. The vocals aren’t operatic, but the song structure (particularly with the duet of male and female vocals) lend that impression. This is quite symphonic and at times makes me think of Helloween quite a bit. The soaring non-lyrical female vocals later are awesome, but so is the neo-classical jam after them. There is a transition section beyond that serving more or less to segue into the next track.
Firefly
More pure metal (think Queensryche again) sounds are heard on this piece. It’s a smoking hot screamer.
The One Constant
Iron Maiden and Queensryche seem to merge on this powerhouse metal tune. It’s got some more neo-classical jamming mid-track is another winner. It does get a little over the top in terms of the theatrical vocals at times for my tastes, though.
Arabella's Arc
More straightforward metal, I love some of the screamed vocals on this piece. It’s almost got an early Rush meets Queensryche feeling at times to me. The mid-track jam has some rather progressive rock like bass work. This is quite a killer tune. In fact, this is one of my favorites on the disc.
The Serenity Sequence (Renaissance Pt. I)
With this two part suite they saved the best for last. This piece of the puzzle is very much a metallic progressive rock song. The music wanders between intricate mellower sounds and more rocking ones. The combination of male and female vocals works really well. There’s even a bit of fusion-like movement that segues this into the next piece.
The Grand Restoration (Renaissance Pt. II)
That comparison to early Rush is again appropriate here. This is more of a metal screamer than the first half was, but the combination of male and female vocals remains. Additionally, this feels like it belongs with the previous movement. This piece has some killer twists and turns and is especially effective. The dramatic ending really makes this the perfect choice to close the album. For that reason, I think that it’s perhaps a bit anti-climactic that after some silence we get some weird backwards tracked and processed spoken word bits.
 
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