New Jersey based progressive metal/fusion veterans Mastermind awake from their dormant slumber with the EP Broken. Actually, it's a pretty long EP, at nearly 45 minutes long, but it's a perfect way to hold their long waiting fans over till they return with their next full length opus Insomnia, which hopefully should see a release date sometime mid-2006. Actually, the band has been busy working on this one for quite some time, carefully revitalizing the new line-up of the band and searching for a record deal. On board along with the brothers Berends Bill and Rich are lead vocalist Tracy McShane (who has actually been with the band a few years now but this is her first recorded appearance) and bassist Laura Johnson.
The band has morphed their sound a bit over the years, as originally they were a pretty bombastic prog-rock ensemble that slowly started to take on some hefty fusion and metal styles. Today, they incorporate all these styles into a pretty unique and enjoyable sound, with the soaring and strong vocals of McShane leading the way alongside the blistering guitar work of Bill Berends, and the tight rhythm of Rich Berends and Laura Johnson. This EP consists of 8 tracks, the first two being the CD single "Broken" and the B side "Break Me Down", both to be featured on the forthcoming album Insomnia. "Broken" starts off with some nifty "Tom Sawyer" sounding synths before the heavy guitar riffs come pounding in with McShane's angelic vocals. Her voice is gold, and Mastermind's best bet is to exploit her talents, which are very evident on this heavy yet catchy and progressive sounding song. The B side track "Break Me Down" is more of a gothic metal piece, less catchy, but containing some crunchy guitar riffs, synths, and effective male and female backing vocals. Berends' guitar solo on this one is technical yet full of emotion and fire.
The remainder of the songs make up the EP section. "Weak and Powerless" is a cover of A Perfect Circle song, given a new twist thanks to the vocal from McShane. The next few tunes are live rehearsal versions of Mastermind classics, like the blistering metal/fusion of "The Queen of Sheba", the instrumental prog classic "William Tell Overture" (which sees the Berends brothers and Johnson just ripping with exhuberant frenzy) and the metal ballad "A Million Miles Away", one of Mastermind's best ever vocal tunes, featuring a great lead vocal from Tracy. As if a tribute to the recent Cream reunion shows (and those who are familiar with Mastermind know they are long time Cream fans) the band rips into a bluesy rendition of "I'm So Glad", complete with some stunning guitar pyrotechnics from Berends. The final cut is an extended version of the song "Broken".
Broken is an enjoyable teaser to the band's upcoming full-length, and a sure reminder to all fans of the band just how much they have been missed on the scene the last few years. Let's get that new one out soon guys-the world is waiting!
1. Broken (4:22)
2. Break Me Down (3:30)
3. Weak & Powerless (5:00)
4. The Queen of Sheba (9:02)
5. William Tell Overture (3:11)
6. A Million Miles Away (7:51)
7. I'm So Glad (4:58)
8. Broken (extended mix) (5:35)