In Your MindBlue Topaz 2009
If you are a metal band and you come from Sweden, you have a hell of a lot to live up to. As any avid metal fan knows the Swedes are blessed with a myriad of talented metal bands in all genres be it black, death, power, melodic rock and AOR. So Mindfuel should be mindful (that will be my only pun in this review you'll be glad to know!) of that fact before committing their musical art for the ears of the metal public at large. I guess this is a regular problem for melodic metal bands in particular as being in a death or black metal band means you can get away with much more not really having to worry about how your vocals sound or whether there are any hooks.
Mindfuel unfortunately for them fall into the melodic metal category and therefore have to please me on more fronts than their growling counterparts. The band is blessed with a pretty clear if slightly thin production thankfully although the drum sound could be a touch punchier, however I won't quibble too much, therefore one major hurdle has been safely by-passed more or less. Instrumentally speaking the band peddles simplistic galloping melodic metal riffing be it fast and speedy or midpaced and more in the rocking vein. Opener Angel of Mercy starts the proceedings off very nicely with a very fast Maidenish gallop as we wait for the all important and deal breaking vocals to kick in. Finally we hear the rather nasal and high pitched vocals of Magnus Westman and a sense of disappointment invades my lugholes. The music is fine but it needs more of a showman on the mic, more attack, a higher level of melodicism. He is not a horrible singer but a great singer he definitely isn't in my book.
By the second and third songs I am growing quite restless with this singer and the music isn't setting me on fire either. More mid tempos are starting to creep into the band's song repertoire which is actually fine in itself but with the vocals being rather bland and average to say the least, and the songs not having nowhere near enough hooks. I actually quite like the keyboard sounds as backing but for a melodic metal band with clean vocals you just have to have a singer worthy of your music and to take you to the next level. The promo sheet for this release mentions bands such as Maiden, Testament, Helloween, Dream Evil and Manowar. I think this doesn't do them any favours at all. These guys are not at that level in my humble opinion.
They have talent of that there is no doubt, but you need the songs with which to win your audience over and Mindfuel fail on that count. The track titles It's a Shame has a nice speedy gallop and a reasonable though underwhelming chorus. To be fair it's one of the better tracks and "it's a shame" there aren't more in the same vein. (Did I say no more puns?)
Towards the end of the album, the track Destiny hints at better things to come from the band in the future with a more memorable chorus this time although again not perfect. Divine Sea of Soul has a cool nagging mid tempo groove with pretty fun guitar licks and squeals but once again our man on the mic delivers a very average performance for me I'm afraid.
So finally Mindfuel's debut album has a long long way to go to reach the high levels of many other Swedish melodic metal bands of today. With a different more charismatic singer this album could reach a 3.5 rating or at least a 3 but alas I can't give that rating as things stand. It is an album that shows the band has musical talent but not quite the songwriting nous or skill to take them to the level which I'm sure the band was aiming for with this debut effort.
© Pirage Forsi
Rating **1/2 (2.5/5.0)