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MindMaze - "Back From The Edge" (CD)

MindMaze - "Back From The Edge" CD cover image

"Back From The Edge" track listing:

1. Back From the Edge
2. Through the Open Door
3. Moment of Flight
4. Dreamwalker
5. The Machine Stops
6. Consequence of Choice
7. End of Eternity
8. Onward (Destiny Calls II)

Reviewed by on November 3, 2014

"With significant strides in composition and songwriting, combined with a precise technical execution, the band cannot help but be met with success with this album."

Pennsylvania’s MindMaze is back after the highly touted debut “Mask of Lies” and a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to help defray some of the cost of the new recording “Back from the Edge.” With dramatic increases in songwriting, performance, and production, this metal quartet makes a huge strike to create the backbone of a young, strong, and bursting U.S. metal scene, one which includes the likes of A Sound of Thunder, Disforia, Judicator, and Draekon (among many more). The success of “Back from the Edge” lies in the multitudes of hooks, well written songs, and stellar sound.

Reading any of my past reviews, you will quickly find that the value I place in strong songwriting in order to stand the test of time – usually encapsulated in the word “memorability” – is enormous. The ability to write a song that I can remember can sometimes even eclipse whether it is ultimately well played or whether the band is even technically “good.” With MindMaze, there isn’t a problem with either. This is a band well adept at the craft of writing both strong and memorable material. Even after running it through the “month test,” where a listen is followed by a month, the song still remained imprinted – which says a lot about the quality to be discovered on “Back From The Edge.” I may not have felt as strongly about its predecessor, but the growth and maturity shown here is exponentially bigger.

These days it seems there are still many fans who have not fully accepted the so called “female fronted metal scene.” If this is your preference…then stop here – there isn’t much to say that will sway you towards picking up the new MindMaze. If you’ve shed the old square box that a metal band should be “male fronted” – then “Back from the Edge” is precisely one of the releases you should be checking out. Sarah Teets’ performance here is one of the highlights of the album, notwithstanding her brother Jeff’s inviting riffs and alluring solo work. If you are not familiar with MindMaze, don’t expect to hear an opera mixed with power metal….Sarah sports a voice that truly fits the music with a much more open style. I’m certain she could sing an opera if presented, but why bother?

One of the best tracks, the 10 plus minute epic “The Machine Stops,” represents the strongest material ever offered by MindMaze. An intricately and brilliantly played number, the song is the best representation of the talent on display, with all the band’s influences at play, including a very Maiden-esque guitar part right at 1:44 and a really enjoyable chorus. Even in its softest moments, the track never grows tired. Other notable songs include “Consequence of Choice”, “Moment of Flight,” “Dreamwalker,” and “End of Eternity,” the latter of which contains the most memorable chorus on the album.

“Back from the Edge” represents a major leap for MindMaze, which has thrust itself into the forefront of the U.S. metal scene, helping to create a formidable line of attack not seen since the mid to late 80’s. With significant strides in composition and songwriting, combined with a precise technical execution, the band cannot help but be met with success with this album. “Back from the Edge” is sure to please fans of power and progressive genres. Oh, right….did I mention that Symphony X’s Mike LePond played bass on the entire release?

Highs: Excellent and memorable song writing.

Lows: Not much for the extreme or death metal fans here.

Bottom line: MindMaze comes "back from the edge" with a highly memorable release!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)