MJ Brady wrote:So what the OP is hoping to see is not necessarily every possible obscurity, but the GEMS of the past, and in some sort of easy couple or a few at a time, rather than the ambitious monster list?
My first offering:
Italy - Mind Key - Journey Of A Rough Diamond 2004
Reviewed by MJBrady on 15 Aug 2004
Yet another upstart progressive metal band from Italy, this band aims to blend the better side of most of the genres best artists into one product. Italy has been producing a lot of prog music for years, and in the case of progressive metal, they have had more than a few really impressive releases, though few bands are able to have the staying power to exist as a band long enough to really release that one cd that will solidify their status with the fickle progressive metal community.
In the case for Mind Key, I can hear the huge influences of Dream Theater, something that really cannot be easily side stepped when playing this kind of music, for some that is an instant turn off, for others it is somewhat of a essential ingredient to why they like this style of music. Count me in the latter, providing the music has it's own identity and is played and written well. Mind Key sound very polished for a debut cd. The singer is even good, not great, but very complimentary to the bands' direction. They are also a very skilled bunch of musicians, drums and guitar stand out, with the bass and keys providing solid performances, that don't get lost in the mix.
As writers, this group can improve, a few of the songs have the kind of hooks that stay fresh in your mind well after getting aquainted with them. Yet on the high side, they are great at putting together ideas for instrumentation, with the chops to add to the effect. They are a band that stays the way of progressive music, with quite a few long songs, I do have to compliment the band for their instrumental prowess, when they are playing outside the singing parts, they have a very cohesive sound, with great drumming and guitar.
Mind Key - 2009 - Pulse for a Graveheart
Reviewed by MJBrady on 22 Jan 2010
There appears to be some very impressive competition for the progressive metal crown in the musical boot shaped country we know as Italy. For quite some time now, many bands have come and gone, many showed great potential, recorded one release and went into obscurity. Others have taken on many new formations and have seen releases that are varied and diverse, having the sound of entirely different bands one cd to the next. Mind Key came onto the scene with their 2000 demo - Welcome to another Reality, and after that in 2004, they released their first full length cd - Journey of a Rough Diamond, which made some great impressions around certain progressive metal circles with their creation of Dream Theater styled progmetal.
A band with all the tools to be a force in the genre, they seemingly had all the necessary ingredients to push towards the upper echelons of the competitive genre. Like so many of these bands, the weakness always seemed to be a solid front singer. And just when it appeared that the band was no more, they release this solid cd here in 2009 with a new vocalist - Aurelio Fierro Jr , who has a voice from the Jorn, Coverdale style, very smooth and powerful. Most everything else on this release is of the highest quality, whether it be the guitars of Emanuele Colella the frenetic drumming of Andrea Stipa and the lush keyboards of Dario De Cicco this band shows great improvement over what was an already solid product.
In a year that progmetal was showing some signs of lag for newcomers and the lesser known bands, it was a pleasure to hear this band not only continue from where they had left off in 2004, but far surpass their previous efforts with such an altogether impressive recording. The songs have a lasting impact, with smart melodic accompaniment to cleverly assembled classic progmetal riffs. I like how the band was able to create a trademark sound by having a fine tuned blend of progressive moves, and melodic metal catchiness. No question that the band has created the cd that will define them as a band for the future, let's hope that they have not peaked, as this is a very positive step in the right direction for them.
YES!!! This is exactly what I was hoping for - in-depth reviews of albums that had an impact on your life as a power/progressive metal fan. Very well thought out reviews.
As for Mind Key I do like both albums but never fell completely in love with them.