From Germany comes In Morpheus' Arms and their debut CD Distrust the Mantra, a five-piece female fronted progressive metal band that does a good job of staying true to the genre without steering into gothic territory that all too many acts with a female singer often do. First props go to the cool band name, which is about as original as you can get these days. Second, singer Mira Kohli has a fantastic voice, fully capable of riding alongside the thunderous guitar of Sascha Gutkowski, the heavy rhythm section of drummer Peter Rosinski & bassist Natalie Droge, and the symphonic keyboards courtesy of Karsten Mroszczok. Third, the band deliver mature progressive metal influenced by the likes of Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, and Opeth, full of dazzling musical passages featuring heavy riffs, intricate drum work, sizzling solos, and oceans of keyboards.
Be on the lookout for dark prog-metal on the exeptional "Revelation", a crunchy number with Mira's moody vocals over complex riff-o-rama and Mroszczok's tasty organ and synth solos, or the epic prog number "Contacting the Angelic", which features an alluring intro highlighted by addicting bass lines, synth washes, and gentle guitar chords. As Mira's dreamy vocals come into play, the tune gradually morphs into an atmospheric yet bombastic number high on drama and emotion, closing out with a mighty guitar solo from Gutkowski and some almost Mellotron-like sounds from Mroszczok over a complex drum barrage by Rosinsky as it segues into the multi-part epic "Pandemonium". This all-instrumental suite is well put together and features many jaw dropping moments, but I was half waiting for Mira's angelic vocals to come bursting into the mix at some point, as at roughly 14 minutes long it does tend to drag in a few spots and could have used vocals. Another epic closes the CD, the near 11-minute "Return Of Reality", a moody and atmospheric number that almost sounds at times like some of The Gathering's more adventurous material, ominous Mellotron & Hammond waves floating over intricate rhythms and Mira's intoxicating, Anneka-ish vocals. At about the mid-way point, there's some intense jazz-fusion passages where the band kicks it up a notch and really gets locked in, before the symphonic, proggy finale.
This is a really solid debut from In Morpheus' Arms, and though I think they need to work a little on tightening up some of the longer extended musical passages, there's a boatload of talent here that I think will go a long way. Distrust the Mantra is a recommended CD for progressive metal fans who want something a little different than the norm.
1. Intro (0:28 min.)
2. Reality (8:44 min.)
3. Revelation (6:42 min.)
4. Contacting The Angelic (10:23 min.)
5. Pandemonium Pt. I (5:36 min.)
6. Pandemonium Pt. II (3:27 min.)
7. Pandemonium Pt. III (4:43 min.)
8. Return Of Reality (10:36 min.)