Recording progressive metal with extreme stylings and elements of all types of genres certainly requires a solid production work that results in a good dynamic quality of the instruments, good sound separation, and a fitting vocal production. Otherwise, no matter how good the songs are written and performed, they are most probably going to suffer at some point.
Poland's Mind Gate have been around for a good many years; they're no new comers. They have several albums out and Spiral is their 2004 disc on Lucretia Records. The musical direction is undoubtedly progressive metal, with touches of folk, jazz, blues, and even melodic metal. Production-wise, the album is evocative of another Polish band April Ethereal's debut disc. Musically, however, Mind Gate is a more daring outfit aiming for the combination of polarized genres. Their songs are long and improvisational. Vocalist Robert Czerwik uses more of his clean voice, rather than going for the gruff brutal style heard on the earlier discs. As a matter of fact, with the exception of a certain few parts, the album is sung entirely in clean vocals with occasional falsetto screams. Also on board as a guest is female vocalist Asia Pach whose presence adds a nice aesthetic value to the songs she sings on. Actually she just sings on one track, "Epitaph", where she duets with Czerwik utilising a very folky tone that matches the flow of the slower guitar riffs and piano melodies. On the other songs, Pach just provides some backing harmonies without singing any lyrics, as on the 11-minute album opener "Sins of Past" and the last track "Forever Alone". Both of these songs have great keyboard work by Maciej Czarski whose tone and note choices truly heighten the level of songwriting. He will use symphonic elements, cutting synth solos, weird sound effects, or even electronic patches in order to enrich the content of the song. Unfortunately, albeit perfectly played, the guitar tone comes off way too thin and is often less than effective. Not sure if it's entirely a problem of production but even the parts that are supposed to be heavier fail to contrast the more atmospheric passages handled by the keyboardist.
"Falling Away" is a nice instrumental piece moving between rhythm-heavy guitars, pure acoustics, a piano section with avant jazz riffing, and finally a blues lick. This all happens within the span of 3 minutes and is replaced by a furious synth solo that is quickly backed up by awesome tapping guitar. There is even a thrashy guitar theme towards the end with pronounced bass and drum combination. This song is followed by the heavier number "Terminal Neurosis", littered with clean and death vocals, ever-changing keyboard and bass figures, dense guitar hammer-ons and a lengthy instrumental section with an impressive unison solo. The guitar coda at the end is particularly emotive.
All things considered, Mind Gate are a band with potential. They, however, need to improve their recording techniques and perhaps consider working with a professional producer. In such cases, an external ear always helps a lot.
- Sins of Past
- Falling Away
- Terminal Neurosis
- Forever Alone