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Souljourners: Mind Control

Every so often, a young band comes along to completely knock you on your ass and just impress at every level. Well, Southern California's Souljourners have done just that with their debut Mind Control, a brilliant melodic progressive metal opus that grabs you upon first listen much like Dream Theater's Images and Words did back in the early 90's, or even Queensryche's The Warning a decade prior. Filled with instantly memorable melodies, virtuoso musicianship, and excellent vocals, Mind Control has everything that even the most fickle prog-metal fan would want. Let's dig in, shall we?

Opening track "Permanent Scars" is as catchy as you can get, the lead vocals of Michael Couts very accessible, almost like a cross between the dudes from Nickleback or Creed, but with more of an edge, and his guitar skills are off the charts. His crunchy, often times complex riffs play off the symphonic keyboard textures courtesy of Paul Ellingson, and the chorus on this one will stick in your head for hours on end. Much like Dream Theater, the band throws in plenty of jaw-dropping solos and fiery interplay, all the while the rhythm team of drummer Chandler Taylor (since replaced by Jackson Heskett) & bassist David Brockenborough laying down the tricky yet groove laden foundation (yes, these guys have plenty of groove!). The heavy and pumped up "Crazy Times" features slammin' riffs and white hot leads from Couts, a real prog-metal corker that also sees Ellingson dropping in some dazzling synth blasts. Tight musicianship permeates the complex "Fall", and the band shifts gears into majestic ballad territory on the gorgeous, and quite proggy, "I've Waited", featuring sweeping synths and poignant vocals. Speaking of proggy, the intense instrumental "Sapphire World" contains everything you would want from a band of this nature, tons of melody, chops galore, and powerful enough to fuel a space shuttle. Progressive metal the way it ought to be played folks!

At this point, you are at the half-way point, and the band doesn't let up here. "Lost Vision" is another gentle number, Couts crooning over majestic piano melodies, which leads into the metallic ripper "Medicated Memories", a angry song about addiction, the band firing on all cylinders with plenty of symphonic metal punch. The interplay between the guitars and keyboards on this one is quite intense and shows a band perfectly in synch with each other. From there the band mixes catchy hard rock with blistering prog-metal on "Half Life", and really go all out on the complex title track, sure to be a hit with fans of the genre, complete with memorable vocal melodies, heavy riffs, and intricate instrumental passages. On this one the band combines the best of both Dream Theater and Symphony X, something that's not easy to do. Ellingson's upfront synths do battle with Cout's brutal riffing on "Tangent Universe", a real heavy but progressive number, and Cout shows us his dexterity on both electric and acoustic guitar on the all-too short instrumental "Predestination". The CD ends with the sophisticated sounds of "The Avenger", a truly classy progressive metal piece that not only shows off the outstanding guitar skills of Clout, but also is proof positive of just how good this band can put together catchy, memorable metal tunes that feature lots of impressive instrumental passages but never lose focus of the song at hand.

Here at Sea of Tranquility we don't give out too many 5 star reviews, but when something comes along that is deserving of such high praise, we are happy to give credit where credit is due. I can't imagine Souljourners being unsigned much longer-this is a band with unlimited talent, Mind Control a progressive metal tour-de-force that needs to be heard by anyone with even a passing interest in the genre. Two thumbs WAY UP!

Track Listing
1 Permanent Scars
2 Crazy Times
3 Fall
4 I've Waited
5 Sapphire World
6 Lost Vision
7 Medicated Memories
8 Half Life
9 Mind Control
10 Tangent Universe
11 Predestination
12 The Avenger

Added: August 12th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 4489
Language: english

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