When I first heard these guys with the release of their debut disc Delusional Reality, I thought they would be hard pressed to top it. Boy was I wrong! The addition of guitarist Michael Cerna and a creativeness which rivals Dream Theater or Porcupine Tree, toss in a little Andrew Lloyd Weber and Mindwarp Chamber proves that they are the real deal. If you can stand the heat, this disc is a must have. I have often suspected that the difference between many of the so called super groups and those that have remained relatively unheard of like Mindwarp Chamber is mostly a matter of luck. My suspicions are more than justified as I listen to this disc that will challenge anything you want to compare them with. Magnificent musical ability, the powerful vocals of Scott Huffman and enough time changes and genre bending to keep you forever entertained. I have not heard a disc in recent memory that even comes close to the package that Mindwarp Chamber presents here. It has been a constant companion and will continue to be a disc that I always have nearby as it is filled with just what I look for from the world of progressive metal.
You first hear an eerie sound like a storm brewing. Then comes cosmic sounding keyboard that is the lull before all hell breaks loose with the opening song and title track "Supernova". Starting quite calm and turning up the heat just like the title suggests, Mindwarp Chamber gallops through many music genres (even a brief cool jazz interlude) on this first of eight delightful excursions. Each one takes you to a different destination via diverse routes musically with each having something unique and satisfying in its own special way.
They also give each song the time needed to work their magic. With the shortest song clocking in at just over six minutes the band might have sacrificed radio air play but they certainly maintain the integrity of their art. I listen to a song like "Closer To Heaven" and it is easy to hear that this kind of work could not be contained within a three or four minute song. Glorious instrumental interludes that sweep you away are the norm as this example of their abilities conjures up the specter of the European metal that is so powerful. When Scott sings the line "Savor the moment", he is really speaking the truth. This is another song that hits you like a ton of bricks. Rich and lush the dynamics fill the ears with a plethora of sound that takes many times through the player to grasp.
Another aspect of this album is their ability to bring something that sounds familiar yet is totally new and fresh. "On The Mend" is that type of song. Starting with an acoustic guitar that swells to epic proportions with some very cool diversions along the way, this song is a masterful bit of songwriting and execution. The guitar work is superb and lush and added to the dynamic vocals of Huffman, who gets a helping hand here from Kristin Joy Elane Gustafson-Walsh, you are treated once again to a wonderful display of progressive metal at its best.
Something else that strikes me about this album is the maturity of the music. I know these guys are not spring chickens but there is a scope to the sound that can only come from experience. The way that they pull from so many different influences and combine them into a captivating musical collage can only happen with someone that knows from where they speak. When you listen to "Stillwater" with a funky, almost R&B start that evolves into some of the most majestic metal on the album it will lay witness to what I say.
Or I could go on about the album closer "The Final Act". The layers of sound assault you and the depth of the music is such that you will find new stuff to love about it every time you hear the song. When Paul Kilkenny brings this album to a close with the regal sound of tympani amidst the swirling piano work of Ed Bethishou, it is as fitting an end there can be as you will think that you have just been treated to a metal symphony of the finest kind.
This disc has so many aspects to it there is no way to do it justice with just written words. When I think about all the separate components that have come together here to form this work it is staggering. One time it might be the outstanding bass work of Marc Malitz that grabs my attention or on the next pass it might be the interplay between Ed on keyboards and Mike shredding away on the guitar. Maybe it's the way that Paul delivers the perfect fill or compliment on drums or the majestic voice of Scott entering you through the ears and taking residence in your soul.
I have run out of superlatives to describe this disc. If there's any group which has flown under the radar that needs to be put right in your cross hairs, this is the one. They are what class… and progressive metal are all about!
2. Closer To Heaven
3. On The Mend
4. Icons Of Evil
5. Last Ember Fades
6. Out Of Spite
8. The Final Act