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Tiles - Presents of Mind CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.85 | 118 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Any reason to doubt? No? good.

Presents of Mind is the third album from hard-rock-prog outfit Tiles, and it's a great follow up to their previous work. It's very clear between the albums that the band saw that they had found a niche and decided to play to their strengths - this album is very much in the style of their sophomore effort, Fence The Clear. Melodic mid-length songs with high-pitched vocal styles reminiscent of Dream Theater with a heavy guitar and a dominant bass. This style has also been frequently compared to Rush, albeit rather unfairly for each party, since Rush were more kin to playing fantasy-esque songs in their progressive era, and Tiles is much more progressive than Rush in their 90s era. Although comparisons can be drawn between some of Tiles' work and, say, Counterparts, but the parallels are rather few. Regardless, it is clear that Rush were a big influence on these boys, based on the clear nod to Rush's Hemispheres album cover, the brain ominously floating over a barren landscape in black and white with a bow strapped on top, not to mention that the album was mixed by Rush producer, Terry Brown. But comparisons with other bands (or band) aside, let's get into the album.

Tiles really attacked this album the same way they did with their last one. But hey, a good formula is a good formula, and instead of playing out as a carbon copy of their old work the album actually turns more into a direct sequel. It's as though they're saying, ''oh, you liked that? Well how about this?'', then cracking the volume to 11 and blasting on the guitar. All in all this seems like a significant improvement on Fence The Clear, even if the approach was similar. The song writing is tighter, more aggressive and more thought out than their other opus. While Fence The Clear certainly had some down time between moments of brilliance, this album is just full of great material. They do here what they do best, very melodic arrangements with excellent riffs, hooks and choruses. This makes for a wildly approachable album as well, not one that needs multiple listens to catch on, but also one that still sounds great the 100th time you've played it since the music is complex enough to hold a progger's attention.

Tiles also spent a lot of time thinking out the arrangement of the distribution of songs on this record. No songs seem out of place thanks largely to where they're put on the album, and any songs that could be misconstrued as ''filler'' actually really help to liven up the album. After a blistering start to the album, for example, the whole thing slows off for the brief instrumental Crossing Swords only to explode back into motion with the heavy propelling bass riff of Facing Failure. The short moment of near silence really does help to bring up the effect of the loud parts of the album, bringing down any ''wall of sound'' syndrome that might occur. They do this once again as the happy and quirky The Sandtrap Jig abruptly turns into the heavy Taking Control.

These guys are also masters of the short and mid-lengthed song, this album is no exception. The album opens with the excellent Static, although its pace may not be quite up to speed with some of the rest of the album, we're quickly brought there with the next track, Modification. While this second track may not be quite as powerful as the almighty Beneath The Surface from the previous album, it still manages to hold attention and really keep you strapped to your seat. Other excellent songs include the well structured The Learning Curve which features a rare moment of abrupt speed change - something Tiles often does not attempt - but it comes off smashingly making for one of the best songs on the album. The low guitar tone of The Ballad Of The Sacred Cows also makes for a wonderfully satisfying instrumental in its 7-minute entirety, and man is it ever heavy as hell.

The longest song on the album proves to be a slight let down, but it's still strong. Checkerboard was going to be an incredibly tough song to cap, and on this album Tiles attempted to do so with Reasonable Doubt, the 11-minute behemoth that sits in wait at the end of the album. The song is good, but it's nothing like its furious, bombastic and dynamic brother track. This one is mainly mellow for the entire duration of the song, and while this isn't bad after repeated listens the first few times one really just sits in wait for it to pick up. Still, with some smooth riffs and emotional voicing it makes for a satisfying end to the album.

This one really does seem more solid than Fence The Clear before it. Although, admittedly, the shining moments on Fence do shine brighter. Still, both albums are amazing pieces of work no matter which way you nit-pick them and each deserves a loving home in any heavy progger's collection. Recommended to fans of Counterparts era Rush or Awake era Dream Theater. 4 floating brains out of 5 - excellent!

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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