Now this isn’t your typical Heavy Metal band. The first thing that hits you is the superb guitar work. Bill Berends is as comfortable working on an acoustic guitar as he is on an electric. Throughout the album, he comes up with so many different styles that make the whole work all the more interesting.
The next thing to hit you, if you don’t know the band, is the surprise of a female vocalist. Lisa Bouchelle has a voice you’ll remember. Rather low for a woman, but very rich and evocative. A certain resemblance to Pat Benatar’s on the high notes, but the resemblance stops there. Beyond that point, I don’t think her voice bears any resemblance to anyone else’s. I could go on listening to it for hours. The band made an excellent choice by picking her out as vocalist. Not enough women in this kind of music. I hope we can listen to her again and again for years to come.
My favorite moment on the album is the 9th song, The Endless Enigma. This is a remake of the 1972 opening song off Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Trilogy album. This is the first time I’ve heard anyone do a remake of an ELP song, except for C’est la vie. I applaud Mastermind’s effort at having chosen such a complicated piece. Then again, considering the caliber of musicians in this band, they certainly were able to do it.
The second movement of the song differs quite a lot from ELP’s though, as Mastermind, driven by keyboardist Jens Johansson, go through a medley of ELP material, including Fanfare for the Common Man and parts of Rondo. There’s also, as the second movement ends, the use of the original tape from Are You Ready, Eddy? with the spoken comments “Ham or cheese!”. The whole piece also ends up with the finishing stereo piece from ELP’s Karn Evil 9, third impression.
I can’t say enough good about this album and, particularly, the musicians involved. A skilled keyboard player, drums pounding for a reason. Guitars that resound. Great choice of songs. Superbly done. An excellent acquisition for anyone’s collection.