Album Review – Mindead / Mindead (2019)

Playing a gritty kind of Melodic Groove Metal, this German squad is ready to put Stuttgart on the world map of modern metal music with their brand new album.

Hailing from the beautiful city of Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state, Thrash/Groove Metal five-piece act Mindead plays a gritty kind of modern metal music with lots of passion and a unique flavor, having quickly established themselves in the local scene surrounding Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart since their inception in 2001. After the release of their debut EP Still Empty in 2004, followed by their first full-length album Abandon All Hope in 2008 (re-released in 2016, by the way) and more recently their sophomore opus Controlling The Tides in 2015, it’s time for Mindead to strike once again with their third installment, self-titled Mindead, a solid statement showing the band has become aware of their own self and that they are proud of what they currently stand for.

And the band comprised of frontman Timo Fielker, guitarists Pablo Mateo and Chris Lohrmann, bassist Benedikt Wagner and drummer Benjamin Hölle had a strong and clear idea of what they wanted to do in their new album, translating that into nine solid and vibrant compositions where the quintet never repeats themselves. “Let’s do something different, deeper, more intense, heavier. We’ll still sound like us, no matter what others may say,” commented Mindead about what the listener can expect to find in the album, an amalgamation of heavy and melodic styles highly recommended for fans of bands like Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage, Tool, Machine Head and Deftones, just to name a few.

An atmospheric intro is gradually “invaded” by the classic beats by Benjamin and the crushing riffs by Pablo and Chris in The Edge, evolving into a modern-day Melodic Groove Metal feast and sounding neck-breaking and very harmonious from start to finish; whereas Killing The Flame is as groovy as it can be thanks to the rumbling bass by Benedikt, while frontman Timo alternates between deranged screams and darker, more serene vocals, also bringing elements from more contemporary styles like Metalcore and Deathcore. The band’s electrifying party goes on in One Last Time, presenting a similar sound as the current American metal scene and feeling a lot more introspective and melodic than its predecessors. Moreover, pay attention to the amazing job done by Benedikt with his metallic bass lines, adding more stamina to the overall result.

And the dark clouds from the previous song keep blocking any sunlight in At The Borderline while the band blasts minimalist sounds and a female voice sends an obscure message, before Timo begins roaring with a lot of anguish and rage. In the even more modern and melodic Every Second, Timo sounds absolutely enraged on vocals while the rest of the band keeps the ambience grim and pensive with their razor-edged riffs and rhythmic beats, generating a catchy musicality full of interesting breaks and variations. Then drinking from the same ravenous fountain as Lamb Of God the quintet fires the excellent The Narcissist King, an ass-kicking Groove Metal tune with Timo stealing the spotlight with his growls while Pablo and Chris continue to slash our ears with their riffage.

All That’s Left is a touching and gripping ballad by Mindead where Benjamin adds some punch to the acoustic guitars with his precise beats, while Timo delivers his most passionate vocal performance of the whole album, and distorted lines permeate the air in To Fight A Demon, igniting the most Slipknot-inspired song of the album and presenting classic and heavy-as-hell riffs by the band’s dynamic guitar duo, which provide Timo all he needs to thrive with his Black Metal-ish vocals. Lastly, closing the alum we have the obscure and groovy Tired, where Pablo, Chris and Benedikt sound at the same time aggressive and gentle with their stringed weapons. In my humble opinion, the only issues with this song is that it goes on for a little too long, albeit still dense and entertaining. Moreover, in most versions of the album you’ll also be treated to an acoustic version of All That’s Left, a beautiful rendition of what’s already a damn good song, enhancing the reach and all  other details of Timo’s vocals considerably.

In summary, the talented Mindead are more than ready to put their hometown Stuttgart and the entire Germany on the map of modern metal music with their new album, breaking free from the confines of local stardom by effectively blending classic and modern-day elements in their inspiring creations and pointing to a bright future ahead of them. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to listen to more of their music on Spotify and, of course, to purchase their self-titled opus from your favorite location by clicking HERE. In case modern and very melodic Groove Metal is your cup of tea, simply give Mindead a chance and you won’t regret at all; quite the contrary, I bet you’ll end up at a concert venue in Stuttgart having a beer and raising your horns to such up-and-coming Teutonic squad.

Best moments of the album: The Edge, The Narcissist King and All That’s Left.

Worst moments of the album: Tired.

Released in 2019 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. The Edge 4:30
2. Killing The Flame 3:48
3. One Last Time 5:25
4. At The Borderline 4:37
5. Every Second 3:53
6. The Narcissist King 3:44
7. All That’s Left 3:13
8. To Fight A Demon 5:26
9. Tired 6:07
10. All That’s Left (Acoustic) (Hidden track) 3:06

Band members
Timo Fielker – vocals
Pablo Mateo – guitar
Chris Lohrmann – guitar
Benedikt Wagner – bass
Benjamin Hölle – drums

Album Review – ShadowIcon / Smoke & Mirrors EP (2015)

This Slovenian band proves an opera singer is not always needed to make great Symphonic Metal songs.

Rating5

SHADOWICON_SmokeMirrors_coverFounded in 2006 in Ljubljana, capital of the mysterious Slovenia, ShadowIcon possess the perfect features to make a Symphonic Metal band: heavy riffs, killer drums, powerful keyboards and orchestrations and a very talented and charismatic female vocalist. What makes them different from other Symphonic Power Metal bands we know is that the beautiful Ana Prijatelj Pelhan is not a lyric soprano like other European divas such as Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons or Floor Jansen. Instead, her vocals are a lot more Pop Rock than Metal, something closer to Gwen Stephani’s voice, which makes the whole difference in their sound.

After four years of the release of their debut album, Empire In Ruins, the band is releasing this year the EP Smoke & Mirrors, containing six tracks and with many special guests such as Sascha Gerstner, guitarist of Helloween; Stefan Schmidt, member of the a cappella metal band Van Canto; Olaf Senkbeil, guest studio musician of Blind Guardian; Betty Lenard contributing with backing vocals, among others.

shadowiconThe EP starts – and also ends – with the powerful and exciting (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly, full of imposing orchestrations and keyboards. The opening track also has a wonderful vocal duet between Ana and Sascha Gerstner, with its chorus being really catchy (which I consider one of the things that make a great metal song), and after days I have heard this song for the first time I was still singing “I’ll step into your dreams, I’ll find out where you’ve been, I’ll make you wish you were already dead”. The following track, If I Was the One, the first single of the EP (check its official video below), is a really nice track with several different layers, starting in a smooth way and ending a lot heavier. In addition, its backing vocals and keyboards are great, especially when combined with the guitar solos. By the way, the keyboards seem to be a crucial piece of their music, supporting all the heaviness and the drama throughout the EP.

The Edge is a good song, but not as heavy as the previous ones, just like The Beauty of a Rose, a very nice ballad which shows all the beauty of Ana’s voice – her vocals are definitely the highlights in both tracks – with an awesome work done in terms of backing vocals too. My Plea starts in a cool and calm way, with Ana singing accompanied only by a piano before all that symphonic thunder comes back, showcasing more heaviness and focusing a lot more on the guitar lines and orchestral moments than all previous songs. And finally, a version of (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly without Sascha closes this good EP. It is still a cool and intense song, but I hope during their live concerts one of the guys from the band can reproduce the amazing vocal duet with Ana because it really makes all the difference in the track.

Smokes & Mirrors is available on several online channels, such as iTunes, Amazon and others, being a solid preview of what can come next on their future full-length albums. Also, don’t forget to check their Facebook page for more news and updates: it’s indeed worthwhile to follow their growth and evolution, as ShadowIcon are a band that definitely proves Symphonic Metal is not a thing only for Northern European bands.

Best moments of the album: (Now I See)Through a Mirror Darkly and If I Was the One.

Worst moments of the album: The Edge.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly (feat. Sascha Gerstner) 5:35
2. If I Was the One 3:42
3. The Edge 3:42
4. The Beauty of a Rose 4:54
5. My Plea 3:26
6. (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly (reprise) 5:35

Band members
Ana Prijatelj Pelhan – vocals
Tomaž Lovšin – guitars
Bojan Kostanjšek – guitars
Matej Ravšelj – bass
Peter Smrdel – keyboards
Žiga Ravšelj – drums

Guest musicians
Sascha Gerstner – additional vocals in “(Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly”
Stefan Schmidt – vocal choirs
Olaf Senkbeil – backing vocals
Betty Lenard – backing vocals
Jeffery Hayat – additional orchestrations and programming
Matthias Ulmer – additional orchestrations and programming