Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mindland - Final Frontier

When the best moments of your newly released metal album are all the non-metal parts, time has come to reconsider your style. Mindland's Final Frontier album is the final frontier in how not to execute an album - I apologize for such a cheap pun but I take opportunities when they present themselves. The album suffers from a frontal assault of boring and cliche melodies and rhythms while at the same time being flanked by terrible tone. Oh, and the general can't sing. When the leader can't soar, the whole nation falls into disarray. Also available here is some of the worst artwork I've ever seen. I understand that good artwork can be expensive but to adorn your demo with a creation from an amateur Bryce - 3D graphic designer is humorous due to the effort it takes to use the 3D modeling program itself. The attempt to create futuristic cities is a good idea if you're Iron Savior and can afford to have someone talented like Chris Foss paint them but Mindland don't have such resources and we instead are left with what looks like a homosexual mountain surrounded by a spit bubble. With a background stolen from one of the random encounter battles in PS1 RPG Legend of Dragoon, we are staring directly into the face of artistic failure... failure that may one day be the reason that distant creatures from another galaxy decide to eradicate our race.

Mindland play a style of metal somewhere between Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, perhaps leaning more towards Iron Maiden. Opening track "Chamber of Light" actually sounds like it could be an aborted Maiden demo track except the guitar playing is not nearly good enough to match that of the London legends. The style is there though; complicated little lead riffs over chugging melody, in this case provided by a fuzzy guitar tone more appropriate for an alternative band playing a high school talent show than a metal band releasing an album. The guitars seriously sound like a hairy dog. The last two tracks are similar to the opening, Maiden inspired romp. "Burning Silence" tries to include a sense of epic middle eastern flavor with the use of synth horns and a decidedly Arabic melody. Last track, "Final Frontier" is a slower, ballad-like piece with more synthesizer work. The culmination of the EP actually creates a sense of melody and sadness instead on nothing but failure. This is mainly due to the mixture of acoustic classical guitar playing and subtle keyboard effects. This is also George Orlanidis' only good vocal performance on the whole release. His showing of, most likely acted, emotion helps to make the track an interesting listen.

The second, third and fourth track combine to create the Follow The Sun trilogy. While "Part I: Rise of the Sun" starts out favorably with a great acoustic intro (guitarists Dennis Augoustatos and Panayotis Tsolakoglou are excellent acoustic guitar players), once the "metal" kicks in the song is ruined by an attempt at Manowar grandioseness that not even Manowar would be able to pull off. George's vocals are weak, emotionless and empty. "Rise" is way too long of a song to be able to support the faulty composition and mostly just struggles on for what seams like eons. Bursts of group vocals are placed throughout but just sound like a buss full of school kids yelling at each other instead of instigating any aggression. The song breaks apart at the end awkwardly into the best part of the song, the ending, which is based around an acoustic guitar melody and a lead which sadly is played with the shitty hairy dog distortion.

"Part II: Fall of the Sun" starts off much like "Part I" with an acoustic guitar, this time accompanied by a piano. It sounds nice until the moment of horror comes. I dub it 2:41 and basically destroys the rest of the song. The weak gang vocals over silence is one of the saddest sounding moments I have ever heard in music. I mean, when you can tell there is only three people yelling the words, intimidation of any sort is obliterated in favor of a comedic foil. Forgetting that the phrase yelled, "Anger and revenge fill their souls," is questionable itself, this is just a terrible moment in music. Its abominable presence is compounded by the "Fear of the Dark"-ish chant afterward interspersed with excellent harmonized leads. Some great moments ruined by the vocals. The best moment of the entire three songs is destroyed by a gang chorus. and then, terrible group chanting. Just when the song is beginning to pick up, the chorus hits again. "Part III: Spirit Beyond Centuries" is a weak traditional metal laced thrasher that should never have been written.

The album really suffers from terrible production. The whole thing sounds like a garage band but the inclusion of synthesized sounds torments me with the thought that it should have been a much better produced affair. George's singing is a major detractor throughout the album. Though not the sole destructive force, it is the most noticeable one. The vocals, gang vocals and group chants ruin almost every song they are in. Still, moments of this release are surprisingly charming and make it difficult to completely hate what Mindland is attempting to do with their music. I've got no beef with John Litinakis' bass playing. It is strong throughout the release, complimenting and following in drummer Nick Anastasiadis' reserved playing style. The final track, "Final Frontier," is... bearable.. at the worst and decent at best. Their attempt at creating epic traditional heavy metal is applauded but the results are not.

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