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MASTERMIND

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Mastermind picture
Mastermind biography
MASTERMIND is brothers Berends, Bill and Rich. Rich is a drummer who subscribes to the Carl Palmer school of drumming. Music, lyrics, guitar, bass and faux-keyboards (actually a guitar-controlled MIDI setup) were handled masterfully by brother Bill, while Rich pounded out complex drumming and sang. Even though the music is guitar based you can hear influences from ELP. They play a melodic ELP - styled energetic and bombastic progressive rock. The music, a heavy metal, jazz fusion, and progressive hybrid, propels you at a breakneck speed from the opening notes to the final chord.

On their third release, bass provided by Phil Antolino left its main influences for a more original Progressive music with long instrumental developments where it's hard to believe than only three musicians are enough to produce such a complex music! "Volume IV", is truly ASTONISHING. With "Excelsior" addition of keyboardist Jens Johansson, they abandoned Rich's vocals completely and did an all-instrumental album. At the same time, the music began to leave the 70's prog sound behind, and the move towards a more progressive metal sound began, though this album also has a lot of jazzy influences. With the release of "Angels of the Apocalypse" MASTERMIND's first release on a major label (Inside Out), the move towards progressive metal was complete. MASTERMIND is a band to watch. They aspire to the fame and glory of ELP.

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Angels of the ApocalypseAngels of the Apocalypse
InsideOut Music 2000
$19.99
$4.94 (used)
InsomniaInsomnia
CD Baby 2016
$5.00
$14.32 (used)
ExcelsiorExcelsior
Inside Out U.S. 2000
$11.98
$4.98 (used)
Mastermind EP - Mastermind 12Mastermind EP - Mastermind 12"
Spinnin' Records
$8.93 (used)
Uncle Sam Wants YouUncle Sam Wants You
Rondelet
$10.37 (used)
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MASTERMIND discography


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MASTERMIND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.73 | 20 ratings
Volume One
1990
3.35 | 19 ratings
Volume Two
1992
3.00 | 15 ratings
III - Tragic Symphony
1994
3.64 | 19 ratings
Mastermind IV - Until Eternity
1996
3.87 | 42 ratings
Excelsior!
1998
3.72 | 41 ratings
Angels of the Apocalypse
2000
2.71 | 22 ratings
Insomnia
2010

MASTERMIND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 5 ratings
Live in Tokyo
1997
4.00 | 6 ratings
Prog, Fusion, Metal, Leather And Sweat
2001

MASTERMIND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MASTERMIND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MASTERMIND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.55 | 6 ratings
Broken (CD SIngle/EP)
2005

MASTERMIND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Broken (CD SIngle/EP) by MASTERMIND album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
3.55 | 6 ratings

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Broken (CD SIngle/EP)
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I was having a conversation with Jerry van Kooten (co-founder of DPRP) one day, and somehow the subject moved onto American band Mastermind. Jerry told me he had two copies of the self-released 'Broken' EP from 2005, and would I be interested in having one? For those who weren't aware of the scene in the 90's, then Mastermind were to my mind one of the most interesting bands around, formed around drummer Rich Berends and his brother, multi- instrumentalist Bill. When they played live then they would use a bassist, but Bill would sing, play guitar and also control a midi at the same time. I was fortunate enough to see them play in London in 1997, and to say I thought they were the band of the night (sandwiched between Ars Nova and Grey Lady Down) is an understatement. But prior to this release their last studio album was in 2000, and the next wouldn't be until 2010. At the time they were a quartet with the brothers being joined by Laura Johnson (bass, vocals) and Tracy McShane (lead vocals). This 8 track set is more than 44 minutes long, features two songs from the next album (which also feature Jens Johansson on keyboards), with 'Broken' repeated at the end as an extended mix, and in the middle there are four songs recorded live in the studio in 2005. As Bill says in the booklet, 'This is exactly how it sounds 100% live as if we played in your living room'.

'Broken' starts with a synth pedal which makes one immediately think of 'Tom Sawyer', but it soon shifts into something middle eastern as Bill and Tracy duet and the guitars crunch in a way which makes one think far more of Sabbath than of a prog act. Tracy's vocals work well with Bill, and she has the power and control of Doro, rising over the top of the band with power and polish. The band had six studio albums behind them by the time of this recording, and although Tracy and Laura were both new at this point, they managed to find room to fit in well with the brothers.

If ever there was a band who deserved to break out of the underground scene then it was Mastermind. Rich comes from the Carl Palmer/Keith Moon school of drumming of hitting everything very hard, multiple times, and it is up to the rest of the band to try and push him into the background as he isn't going to go willingly. I had to smile when I got to track #5, as this is a take on 'William Tell Overture' and as a teenager I bought 'Southern Nights' by Glen Campbell just so I could flip it as his version was on the B-side: I prefer this though, with Bill showing just how adept he is on the guitar with plenty of flourishes and Laura determined not to be left behind. It is flashy, showy, but somehow it is contained, and one can imagine Rich having a blast as he powers around the kit.

There are a couple of covers on here, and one of them is Skip James' 'I'm So Glad' and they use the original recording (now in the public domain) as an introduction before they kick in, although it must be said their version owes more to Cream than the original. Bill shares the lead vocals with Tracy, and his guitar is cranked and powerful. Mastermind were a great band, and this EP is a great representation of that.

 Volume Two by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.35 | 19 ratings

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Volume Two
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars ''Volume one'' was much of a synthetic work, but its undisputed energy and proggy principles were warmly received by Prog fans worldwide.Anyway, by the time the album was re-released the Berends brothers had already started working on a second album ''Volume Two, brainstorm''.The first few pieces date back in 1988 and the last ones were recorded in 1991, the time of the album's release on ZNR Records.Bill of course was handling the guitars, bass and keyboards with Rich providing the drum duties with three bassists helping out during the long recordings at the Trademark Music Studios in Brown Mills, New Jersey.

Mastermind headed for an even more ambitious sound in this second album, indicated by the addition of two long epics, ''Brainstorm'' and ''Triumph of the will'', together completing some 38 minutes of music.I do not know if it is a matter of inspiration or better recording techniques, but ''Volume two'' sounds like an album created by a mature band.With equal doses from RUSH'es lyrical yet powerful Prog Rock and E.L.P.'s Classical-drenched attempts, fronted by the combination of the midi-guitar and synthesizers, the American duo proposed a bombastic, fast-paced music with keyboard masturbations, grandiose atmospheres, Heavy Rock pounds and even some complex Fusion workouts, sounding similar to compatriots MAGELLAN.The addition of some instrumental and vocal melodies certainly helped the band's profile, while the multi-parted epics showcased the accomplished side of the group, displaying influences from Power Rock, Arena Rock, Classical Music and Fusion, eventually creating a very epic style of composing with cinematic soundscapes and frenetic instrumental offerings.The rather digital sound of the instruments still is a bit disturbing, but the tight compositions, the complex themes and the interesting tempo shifts are reasons to leave this factor behind for a while.The shorter tracks are pretty great as well, either coming from an E.L.P. matrix with a symphonic manifest of guitar, bass and keyboards, showered by Neo-Classical textures, or revisiting the powerful lines of RUSH and KANSAS.Two tracks are reworkings on the timeless documents of Richard Wagner (''William Tell overture'') and Gioachino Rossini (''The ride of the Valkyrie'') with Mastermind flirting with Neo-Classical Metal during these pieces.

A huge improvement over the mediocre debut.Bombastic mixture of Symphonic/Classical and Heavy Rock with jazzy inflections, I am very impressed considering the fact this album was recorded in late-80's/early-90's by a duo of musicians without the current recording techniques.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Angels of the Apocalypse  by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.72 | 41 ratings

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Angels of the Apocalypse
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by 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.

 Excelsior! by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.87 | 42 ratings

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Excelsior!
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars This is the first Mastermind album I've heard since Volume I and Volume II. And surprisingly, the ELP influences are almost gone. Sure, you can still here it a bit in the fabulous The Red Hour. And to me that is the best song on the album. But that shouldn't be a put down of the rest of the album.

As a reference, most of the music compares well to the Jan Hammer years of the Jeff Beck Group. Primarily guitar driven rock fusion tunes are the style of the band now, with Bill Berends' synth tinged axe out in front, th band plays a mean mixture of proggin' rock, with a bit of jazz.

Another high point is When The Walls Fell, which starts out as a guitar rocker, but turns into nice symphonic prog by the end.

It's not a perfect album, but it is a joy.

 Angels of the Apocalypse  by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.72 | 41 ratings

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Angels of the Apocalypse
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by fernandoalgarra

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.

 Angels of the Apocalypse  by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.72 | 41 ratings

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Angels of the Apocalypse
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by 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.

 Insomnia by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.71 | 22 ratings

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Insomnia
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by robbob

2 stars I ve got this promo copy.

Maybe the first review.

I've sleeked for MASTERMIND since their first album. The first albums were a kind of heavy space psychedelic prog rock. Then from the third to the one before this one :symphonic hard prog ,with jazzy elements and some psychedelia too.

But this one. What happened? If Mastermind fall in the temptation of getting into the Gothic rock area I think is a big mistake.

This is a typical Gothic rock album with some things of the older MM material. Gothic prog rock? Gothic pop prog?

Now there are so many bands in that way...and Gothic rock is boring ..always the same ideas.

Mastermind must return to their origins or their future life is in trouble.

 Mastermind IV - Until Eternity  by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.64 | 19 ratings

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Mastermind IV - Until Eternity
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by terryl

3 stars My entry point to Matermind is their excellent Angels of the Apocalypse album. With two strong positive reviews by experienced reviewers before me, I couldnt hesitate a bit when I found a new Mastermid IV in an online auction.

The Berends Brothers are the two key masterminds here. If you're reading this, you probably know that the band is pretty much influenced by ELP, but interestingly Bill Berends' use of MIDI guitar has provided them the unusual, to say the least, approach to how a keyboard is played. You'll be able to find plenty of examples in this disc. Too bad the composition for the whole lot of instrument is a work of one mind, so although the melodies are very very strong, the diversity suffers quite a bit here i.e. every instruments try to act as a guitar. (They are actually all guitars!!!) This doesn't happen in AotA as the keyboards duty are tastefully responsible by wizard Jens Johansson.

While my first love with the band is mostly due to the angelic voice of Lisa Bouchelle, this is another weak area in this album. Unfortunately, Bill's is just no leading voice; it is quite weak and amateurish at best, although he is pretty good in backing role as in AotA. And the brothers seem to realise this fact by releasing the all instrumental album right after this one, and hiring singers to front them in AotA and the subsequent EP. So, whilst I love the vocal melodies, I kept looking forward to the instrumental section. In spite of my disappointing comment, his singing in track 3 Dreaming is pretty ok though. I kept thinking throughout the listening how this would sound with Ms Bouchelle's voice (i havent heard the EP so have no idea whatsoever how the most recent singer sounds.

The mixing is another disappointment. It sounds like there are a lot of room for improvement had the album been properly financed. I'd really love to hear if this album will be remixed with technologies of the present day. What else, the artwork is pretty lame.

With all the good melodies and interesting ideas, this deserve at least 3.5 stars. Sadly I just can't think of this album be in the same level as my other 3-4 star albums due to some outstanding weaknesses, so I'm giving this 2.75 at best.

 Angels of the Apocalypse  by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.72 | 41 ratings

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Angels of the Apocalypse
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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
 Excelsior! by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.87 | 42 ratings

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Excelsior!
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Fifth studio album by this overlooked band named Excelsior from 1998 . I have real doubts if this is their best effort as everybody mentioning here. To me is less intristing that the prior album ntil etenity , and I will explain why. Whil the previous album was the most acomplished Mastemind album in every sens, and was the most diverse in manner of interpretation, this one Exclsior doesn't bring anything new, realy, just good pieces and solid musicianship but I think this is not enought to be a very strong album. The ideas lack of straight direction, only ex Stratovarius, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc keyboard player - Jens Johansson save the album to be un usual one and nothing more, that doesn't mean is a bad album or the two brothers are weak here or borind, no they just do a good job, nothing excellent or groundbraking. All the pieces has same level, no one in front here. The music as we used to, eclctic driven key prog with jazzy interplays here and there. Anyway the musicianship is good as always on Mastermind. So a good album, no doubt, but nothing special either, 3 stars and I realy don't understand why the reviewers considered this one as their best album, and even better then Until eternity who for sure beats this one Excelsior for miles away.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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