An Adventurous and Promising Debut
Every band has to start somewhere, and A Torn Mind seems to have hit the ground running with Barriers, their debut EP. Combining great compositions with a sense of originality and distinction, A Torn Mind is definitely a band to keep your eye on. This young Scottish quartet is one of the few new progressive rock/metal bands who is willing to bring something new to the genre, rather than standing in the shadows of the prog metal giants. Although this debut EP could be better in a few aspects, this is a remarkably positive entrance into the prog metal scene for A Torn Mind.
Barriers is a cross between modern neo-progressive rock, prog metal, and some softer AOR touches. The AOR part of the equation is, surprisingly enough, part of what makes A Torn Mind so enjoyable. The mellow sections with atmospheric synths and a soloing saxophone really give the band their own distinct sound. There is actually saxophone in almost every song on Barriers, and its great to hear A Torn Mind using somewhat unconventional instrumentation. Just listen to something like the opening track, "Sixes and Sevens", to understand what I mean. The variation in that song is terrific. The closing track, "Vita", is also a great example of the variation on Barriers. There are even Latin-influenced trumpets in that song, in addition to some of the heaviest prog metal moments on the whole EP. There is also even a ballad of sorts, "Titans", which is one of the best songs here. As a whole, A Torn Mind is willing to show a wide range of influences and a daring attitude, and thats what sets these guys apart from the sea of Dream Theater clones out there.
The musicians in A Torn Mind are terrific, from an instrumental and vocal standpoint alike. Though the instrumental parts often take the cake, there are some great vocal harmonies throughout the EP. Listening to a song like "Sixes and Sevens" really shows what a talented bunch these guys are, seamlessly combining complexity with melody and harmony. The same can be said about the highly-diversified "Vita". One of the most interesting things about A Torn Mind is the prominence of the bass playing from Ryan Anderson. In many cases with prog metal bands, the bass seems to get lost in the transition, but the bass always plays an important role here.
The production is good, though the vocals sound a little dry. Its a minor complaint, however. Generally Barriers sounds great, albeit a bit raw at times.
I'd been excited about hearing Barriers ever since I first found out about it in November of 2009, and I can confidently say that the EP has lived up to my expectations. A Torn Mind is one of the most promising young bands on the prog metal scene right now, and I cant wait to hear where they go in the future. They have the talent and the potential to become a big name in the prog metal world. As for now, Barriers is a great debut, well-deserving of a 3.5 star rating. Let's hope these guys keep making great music in the near future!
1. Sixes & Sevens (7:26)
2. Edge Of The World (5:59)
3. Titans (6:13)
4. Impurity (9:24)
5. Vita (10:29)
Total Time 39:31