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Acute Mind: Acute Mind

Formed by the guitar pairing of Arkadiusz Piskorek and Pawel Ciuraj, Acute Mind have been working on their own version of neo-prog since 2006, however it was when vocalist Marek Majewski joined three years later that things really began to click into place. The band's self titled debut album was actually released early last year through a reasonably new Polish label Electrum Productions, but is of such a high standard that no excuses are needed for this rather late review.

A quick look at the genre description will see Acute Mind classified as neo-prog, but you have to also take into account the country from which they come, with Poland currently producing countless acts that have used the mould that Riverside created to base their sound on. Acute Mind have certainly taken on board the efforts of their fellow countrymen, but this album adds a completely new twist, with a sound that is not as flippant or glossy as much that the neo-prog genre churns out, but that isn't quite a serious and foreboding as the likes of Riverside. This is music that takes itself seriously, but doesn't insist that you enter a deep depression to appreciate it!

The twin guitar work is never flashy and neither does it veer into the Maidenesque pastiche that nearly every double fretted prog and metal outfit does these days, instead the neat and sharp riffs and motifs allow both Piskorek and Ciuraj to build dense interwoven stretches of music that are further embellished by the fantastic keyboard work of Dorota Turkiewicz, the dextrous bass playing of Wojtek Rowicki and the phenomenal percussion of Dariusz Hanaj. It is possible to dip into any track on this album and find a perfect example of five musicians working in perfect synchronicity, with no one individual trying to steal the limelight, or dominate the tracks. "Faces" is a perfect example, with its atmospheric keyboard intro that gives way to some phenomenal guitar interplay, where the staccato bursts are punctuated by an insistent and wonderfully weighted burst of lead work. As all of this is going on the bass is ensuring that the song never loses its way and Hanaj illustrates his rare knack of hardly ever playing a straight beat, while always playing for the song and not just cluttering everything else up. Running at over six minutes, this is a long song for an instrumental, but the narrative comes from the music itself, to the extent that on the first run through I never noticed the lack of vocals!

Not to be outdone though, Majewski puts in a ridiculously strong performance across this album, with his style sitting somewhere between Vanden Plas' Andy Kuntz and the more restrained delivery of RPWL's Yogi Lang. That may sound like a strange mix, but on a song like "Garden", it allows Majewski to not only roar his way through the guitar maelstrom, but to also lead the song through some introspective, less aggressive passages with a confidence and conviction that is rather inspiring. Whether it is the beautiful, plaintive "Misery", the ever evolving prog metal of "Bad Incitements", where Turkiewicz's keyboards really let fly, or the Arena like guitar and keys call and response of "Bonds Of Fear", the quality never drops once in what is a real unexpected treat of an album. A quick visit to the Acute Mind website reveals that all text is in Polish, but what is rather interesting is that the promo pics on the site push (the undeniably attractive) Dorota Turkiewicz to the front of the band, giving the impression that she is the lead singer. I know that female front-women are all the rage right now, but with the fantastic nature of the music on this album, this is a gimmick that Acute Mind really don't need to pull.

Acute Mind have produced one of the most interesting and exciting neo-prog albums that I have heard for quite some time, that while not completely original, does have the distinction of not actually bringing a whole host of other bands springing immediately to mind.

Debut albums aren't meant to be as good as this!

Track Listing
1. Grief And Pain
2. Garden
3. Misery
4. Sweet Smell Of Success
5. Faces
6. Bad Incitements
7. Bonds Of Fear
8. Prophecy

Added: October 17th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Acute Mind on Facebook
Hits: 1127
Language: english

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