Mindmaze is a band that has been on my radar for quite a while now. One fact that piqued my interest was that founding member Jeff Teets and I are both huge fans of a couple select bands: Savatage and Borealis. Without going into too much detail, I feel Savatage is one of, if not, the most underrated metal band ever, and Borealis is a local favourite of mine. With that said, it was only natural that I took an interest in Mindmaze, a power/progressive metal band from Pennsylvania. “Mask of Lies” became even more compelling when I heard the lead single: “Never Look Back”.
If this album only consisted of “Never Look Back”, it would probably get the highest rating I’ve ever given out. It’s a text-book example of how to write a great song. With a lead melody that would make Iron Maiden jealous, the song immediately grabs your attention. As the verse comes in, you might be surprised to hear female vocals, but Sarah Teets is such a brilliant vocalist that it will sound quite natural. The chorus redefines what a catchy song is, and ultimately builds to a satisfying end. By comparison, the rest of the album is somewhat underwhelming. Nothing about this album is bad, it just can’t live up to the epic opener. Some other highlights include “This Holy War”, and the extremely long “Dark City (Dreaming This Life)”. The ballad, “Remember”, opens with a clear homage to Savatage, before taking a much brighter, more uplifting tone in the verse. While this change in sound is abrupt, it quickly becomes quite enjoyable. It’s hard to describe many of the other tracks because this is a progressive metal record; describing a single part of a song won't do it justice. The band goes through a variety of sounds, emotions, and moments led by the duo of Sarah’s vocals and Jeff’s guitar work. Speaking of Jeff’s guitar playing, it is the most enjoyable part of the album for me. It is clear that he is well-versed with some of metal’s best guitarists as he shares the common trait that makes them great: brilliant phrasing. While he does shred relentlessly often, it is the way the solos are constructed that really impress me. “Mask of Lies” is much better for having such a talented band playing.
While not every song on “Mask of Lies” is a home-run, there are great moments throughout the record. Combined with the skillful playing of these musicians, and you have a solid progressive power metal record. Ultimately, any of my dislike for this album is founded in my dislike for progressive music. Few bands can pull it off, and Mindmaze does a commendable job, but I definitely enjoy more straightforward music. This is a reason why the aforementioned “Never Look Back” is so enjoyable. Nevertheless, “Mask of Lies” is an invigorating, exciting metal record that you need in your collection!
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"Never Look Back"
"This Holy War"
"Dark City (Dreaming This Life)"
4.25/5 or 85%.
Written by Scott