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Mastermind - Angels of the Apocalypse  CD (album) cover

ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE

Mastermind

Eclectic Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars MASTERMIND has become a well-known band in the progressive rock & metal genre. They have released six albums including their recent release "Angels of the Apocalypse". It's the follow up to magnificent album "Excelsior! (1999), which also introduced Swedish keyboard maestro Jens Johansson (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and STRATOVARIUS) as a new member of the recording band. There's a big change on this album. Their previous album "Excelsior!" was all-instrumental, but on this album they have recruited a magnificent female vocalist: Lisa Bouchelle. Her powerful and emotional voice makes you forget about the last albums technically instrumental splendor. The album is also much more melodic than their previous. The highlights are the opening "The End of the World", "Perchance to Dream", "The Queen of Sheba", the all-instrumental "With Dignity and Grace", "The Beast of Babylon" and the cover of EMERSON LAKE & PALMER's "The Endless Enigma". Although the inclusion of vocals, there's plenty of intriguing instrumental passages and races. This is so far one of the better albums in this genre this year. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#4785)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
big_room@yaho
5 stars When it comes to sizzling, metal-edged progressive rock, Mastermind's masterminds Bill and Rich Berends have it all figured out. With elements of metal, jazz, and classical music in a solid rock base, "Angels Of The Apocalypse" has Emerson, Lake & Palmer-ish power without sounding derivative (except on the bracing, stunningly engaging revision of ELP's "The Endless Enigma," of course). Their dynamic compositions and outstanding soloing are up with the best in prog, but their greatest strength is their energy; their vigorous, gripping performances make 6-minute tracks feel like focused bursts, and even the long album opener "The End Of The World" never wanes. On top of all that, singer Lisa Bouchelle is a true revelation, with a rich, magnificently expressive voice that she never wastes wailing or shrieking any unnecessary high notes. This is a truly awesome record, essential for progheads and a worthy purchase for all fans of sizzling rock musicianship.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#4787)
Posted Friday, July 09, 2004 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the only Mastermind i own so far. Is good , the voice are fantastic for prog music, remainds me of Renessaince, but more powerful. But the important piece here the instrumental arrangements and of course the key master of Stratovarius, Jens, who is fantastic keyboard player, amaizing man and musicians. To the end do not forget the two brothers who made this album good. Keep on made good music like this one or more interesting. Some long pieces with great musicianship and quite intresting keyboards parts, the druming is aswell impressive sometimes. P.S. The ELP cover is fantastic, ELP would be proud to here such cover. Great.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#48493)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Actually, this seems to be not very progressive, but definitely the top of progressive metal (so what is the level of progmetal?:)). But I like it, partly very much. I rated it 5 stars, but now decreasing it, sorry.

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Send comments to progressive (BETA) | Report this review (#78033)
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Mastermind are certainly not a band content to sit on their previous achievements and are yet again moving off into pastures new. Last year they brought in keyboard wizard Jens Johannson (Stratovarius) and recorded an instrumental album. This year the Berends brothers have managed to retain Jens but have brought in a female vocalist, Lisa Bouchelle. Considering that up to last year Rich Berends provided drums and Bill everything else (with a bassist added for live work), it is quite a move to take. When I saw them at The Orange a few years ago I was amazed by their virtuosity and they seem to have taken on e anew life since then.

Opener "The End Of The World" (over ten minutes) moves from driving rock track to a jam, where Bill really lets loose on the guitar. Rich shows why he is one of the top drummers in the world with some amazing fills, and Jens fits in well without being overpowering. Each of the ten tracks is a gem, and they even cover a number form ELP, "The Endless Enigma". Mastermind really are progressing and this is an album that all progheads should rush and get straight away. Just superb.

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#139792)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I honestly cannot believe this album is rated higher than the excellent Excelsior. Whereas Excelsior was a very interesting blend of metal, fusion, and prog, this album is just dull and over-the-top cheesiness. I have a high toleration for cheesiness, believe me, but this is just too much. The ominpresent in the double bass in the first two running along at a million miles an hour sounds absurd and really ruins any chance they had of being taken seriously. That combined with the fact that the music is a whole is fast paced and overly-bombastic makes the album sound like a high-fidelity megaman sound track. It can be fun in a few places where it's not too ridiculous and there are some interesting parts in the music here and there, but overall this album feels pretty much like a sell out to the early teens set that just discovered metal. 2.5 stars rounded to 3, although I feel as if I am being way too generous.

I get some of the references to ELP in the other reviews, but this album is not for ELP fans. ELP did make some fairly bombastic music, but it was never this over-the-top and it was usually at least a little interesting. Not the same case here in my honest opinion.

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Send comments to Failcore (BETA) | Report this review (#188761)
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars I guess I am in a heavy prog mode once again, intrigued lately by Sabbath's Tyr, Roswell 6's mesmerizing new recording, a longing look at the Rocket Scientists albums and now a long delayed revisit of my small 2 album Mastermind collection, so I wiped off the cobwebs and blown away the dust on "Angels of the Apocalypse". Not really heavy metal or prog-metal, more like turbo-charged epic rock with colossal Wagnerian themes blasted by mastermind guitarist Bill Berends , a Keith Emerson wannabe but who uses an axe instead of a Moog! There is even a cover of ELP's commanding "Endless Enigma". "The End of the World" is a cataclysmic eruption of crunchy sounds and raunchy themes, powerfully fueled by the extremely attractive Lisa Bouchelle's sterling mezzo-soprano, while Bill grooves intensely, his brother Rich bruising the beastly drums with sharp Palmerian impunity. Jens Johanssen of Stradivarius fame has allegedly way too much caffeine while tickling his various ivories, often with zippy savvy. "Perchance to Dream" is a dramatic rumbling rockslide, full of loopy rhythms and a harsh buzzsaw edge, veering pretty darn close to heavy metal at times, whirling synths not withstanding. Bouchelle can certainly sing with great drama and theatrical audacity. The guitar solo is like the contrail of a speeding missile, irrevocable, insistent and deadly. The subtly brutal "2000 Years" keeps an eye sternly on the darker side, a neo-gothic rants that conjures images of Odin and Valhalla, one can think of a harder edged Blue Oyster Cult, a rave-up track fueled by some blistering guitar flurries. A cool jazzier section slows down the pace of the outro brilliantly. "The Lover's Heart" increases the pulse quite a bit with a furious cadence that threatens to steamroller ahead unpunished, with a stunning mid-section: "guitare espagnole" meets stringed synths in stellar fashion, injecting some serious Latin passion into the fury. "The Queen of Sheba" displays a blitzkrieg of sound, a hissing pseudo- Egyptian theme that is propelled manically by the cohesive ensemble, Lisa's vocals soaring above the somber sonic pyramids, the guitar shredding at breakneck speed, soloing in a frenzy rarely witnessed. On the all-instrumental "With Dignity and Grace", the boys stretch out their glorious chops with unabridged ardor, a hard-edged fusion workout that rocks as well as sears, a tremendous display of seismic prog. The addictive"A Million Miles Away" is a dreamier expanse with a terrific howling Bouchelle vocal sounding more male HM than usual, a leisurely hard ballad with some archetypal tortured leads peppered throughout, sounding almost like a lost Robin Trower classic. "The Beast of Babylon" injects some more epic drama, a return to some blistering mid-eastern motifs that seem to be a Berends signature, all blinding fast, relentless and furious, amusingly kitsch to say the least (the growling beast!) but really not my cup of tea. The disc concludes with 2 bonus tracks , the ELP cover is an unmitigated success, mainly because the band decided wisely to take a quite different slant on this rather enigmatic piece, presented in a slightly heavier setting, pleasingly more electronically dissonant and widely adventurous. Rich Berends certainly has his Palmer riffs down pat, as he muscles through the sweeping guitar-synth forays, the shrill Johansson colorations and Lisa's completely different from Lake's vocal. This never was an easy piece by ELP standards and Mastermind acquit themselves rather succinctly. The destructo guitar outrage is impressive, as close to the manic Emerson persona as you will ever witness, all overt technicality wrapped in some heavy virtuosity! The famous fanfare section is noisier and disheveled, befitting a metal crew and showing no sign of prog by numbers. For that alone, they are to be applauded. The second add-on is a rollicking adventure "Only in My Dreams" that fails to capture my imagination, a rambling bluster that showcases the band's strength (power) and weakness (repetition). The disc should have ended with the previous opus. Enjoyable but no masterpiece. 4 catastrophic seraphs

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#237935)
Posted Monday, September 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A very good surprise from the USA. I didnīt know this band until recently when I saw some reviews here on PAand decided to look for this CD with vocals from the much praised Lisa Bouchelle. Another interesting feature is swedish keyboards legend Jens Johansson (Stratovarius and Ingwie Malmsteen) joining the fold. I was quite struck by their mix of 70īs heavy prog, 90īs melodic power metal and some synphonic overtones. The result is quite charming and convincing.

The highlight is of course Bouchelleīs excellent vocals: strong, dramatic and very good. She has some pipes! She reminds me sometimes of another great american female singer, Lana Lane, but she has a kind of 70īs bluesy feeling too, like Babe Ruthīs Janita Haan. Guitar parts are also very well done and with a good dose of personality that set them apart from so many other power metal bands: Bill Berends is quite melodic and adds some fusion parts to the mix. Johanssonīs typical speed of light synth solos are present as expected, but his overall perfomance here is more varied and interesting here than on most Stratovarius CDs.

All tracks are of very good quality. There are no fillers and the instrumental With Dignity And Grace is a good showcase of their tightness and tremendous technique. If I had to chose only one song as a highlight Iīd pick up the powerful Million Miles Away, just gorgeous! Of course, for most progheads, the greatest moment on Angels Of The Apocallypse is their version for ELPīs Endless Enigma. Mastermind did a fantastic job here, as their style are so apart from each other: the result is, at the same time, respectful to the original version and also giving the song a different approach, with wonderful guitar parts absent from the ELPīs track. Production is also top notch.

Another fine piece of prog music I found here on PA. If you like the aforementioned styles go for it!

Rating: four strong stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#276029)
Posted Friday, April 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars This had been my worst experience trying to find something different about prog music. Angels of the Apocalypse is another of a thousand of albums that its main characteristic is to fight dragons through their lyrics and try to generate an overacted drama through music, music that is not progressive rock but just like basic heavy metal made by bands like Dark Moor, (including the female voice also overacted) Some of the keyboards parts are interesting, but that's all.

I bought this album thinking about finding something interesting, but since the first track I knew I was going into an album based on basic musical forms, without any artistic endeavor, with significant influences from bands like Lacuna Coil and Tristania but hey, this is not progressive.

The album can be entertaining if you do not have high expectations about progressive music, but in my case I decided to return to the record store and exchange it for something of Magellan that is not the best progressive band but at least I felt at home.

I have nothing more to say, simply because this album is not part of the musical genre that corresponds to this website.

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Send comments to fernandoalgarra (BETA) | Report this review (#280922)
Posted Friday, May 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars MASTERMIND are an American band led by the Berends brothers.They play a heavy brand of music with female vocals.There's actually a Power-Metal flavour as the drums are often upfront and relentless.

"The End Of The World" opens in an intense manner (especially the drumming) that builds. It settles right down just before 2 minutes as the vocals arrive. It does pick back up as vocals continue. It's heavier before 6 minutes after the vocals stop. She's back 9 minutes in. "Perchance To Dream" opens with some nice guitar as the drums join in.Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. I like this instrumentally a lot. "2000 Years" has a heavy guitar intro as the drums pound their way in and vocals follow.There's a Native vibe here and I like the lyrics. Cool song.

"The Lover's heart" has a great sounding intro then vocals arrive before 1 1/2 minutes.The instrumental break 5 minutes in is a highlight. "The Queen Of Sheba" has a good intro as well then the vocals join in. Relentless drumming as well. "With Dignity And Grace" is my favourite mainly because it's an instrumental but it's also very good. "A Million Miles Away" is a like a power ballad, in fact the band HEART comes to mind. "The Beast Of Babylon" is great because of that urgent and intense sound. Again the drums are relentless.

If this was all-instrumental i'd give 4 stars for sure. She's a good singer i'm just not into her vocals that's all.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#430841)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink

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