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(44:57, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Thought and Matter 13:15 2. The Lost Totem 7:43 3. Composition Time 8:21 4. Information War 9:07 5. Intermedia 0:49 6. Apotheosis 5:42 LINEUP: Grigory Kurnosov – guitars Vitaly Zotov – bass Roman Gorodnyansky – drums Vyacheslav Bessonov – keyboards
Prolusion. The Russian band MIND PORTAL was formed in 2009, and already one year after their formation they released their debut album "1/1". While their debut album apparently was assembled fairly quickly, it would take this quartet a few more years to be ready with their next CD, but in early 2014 they returned with "1/2: Thought and Matter", released through MALS Records.
Analysis. A brief summary of what Mind Portal is all about would be that it is an instrumental progressive metal band. Not that these are that few and far between to be honest, but there are certain aspects about Mind Portal that sets them slightly apart from many other bands that can be described in that manner. That they don't belong to one of the more experimental oriented branches in the progressive metal environment is arguably fairly high on that list. Mind Portal is most likely a unit that can point back to multiple likely sources of inspiration, but as far as I'm concerned they have an overall sound that places them inside the Dream Theater school of progressive metal. Their compositions weave their way through multiple themes, some repeated and others standalone constructions, and there's a fair bit of variety at hand in each and every composition too. They do seem to have a certain affection for the combination of dark toned, richly textured guitar riffs with a gritty sound and supplemental organ textures though, and while I can't really say that this is a dominant feature on this album it is a recurring one. As such this slight detail from their musical palette is somewhat defining. There's a lot more going on here of course, with dramatic piano and keyboard driven themes, elegant keyboard soloing on top of a variety of guitar foundations and plenty of harmony based intertwined guitar and keyboards movements. As for the guitars, plucked delicate details and compact, dampened riff motifs are just as common as the darker, more menacing riffs previously mentioned. The different themes blend and mix the different aspects of guitars and keyboards, and while there is a multitude of different combinations used all of them feel natural. If a theme develops, by opening with delicate guitar details and dominant keyboards and then increasing in intensity by way of compact and later dark, ominous riffs, develops the other way around or opts for an abrupt change from a gentle to an intense theme, all shifts and all developments in each and every compositions coming across as smooth, well executed and well prepared. Natural flow is a description that fits this album as a whole as well as all the songs on it. I might also note that the keyboards and guitars are fairly evenly matched as far as soloing runs go, and that the latter is also an exponent for variety, providing everything from careful, longing soloing to pacier runs with more of a shredding and at times neo-classial tinge to them. With and without supplemental supporting riffs, depending on what I suspect is a carefully planned level of intensity. The end result are songs that keep hold of you, because there's always something happening, always some development taking place, and it is only on rare occasions that a specific theme is given a more elongated run. Whether that is a positive or a negative aspect of this production comes down to individual taste presumably. It probably warrants a mention that there are quite a few passages on each composition that by themselves have more of a progressive rock than progressive metal oriented direction, largely depending on the level of intensity, tonal range and distortion applied to the guitars.
Conclusion. Instrumental progressive metal that, roughly, can be described as belonging to the Dream Theater school of progressive metal is what Mind Portal provides on their second album "1/2: Thought and Matter". It is a well made and intriguing album, constantly moving somewhere and constantly developing, maintaining nerve, tension and interest with relative ease. A diverse and compelling production of old school progressive metal, well worth a check if you know or suspect that this is something you'd appreciate.
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