After the very first warbles sung by Mark Basile, vocalist and acoustic guitarist of Italians Mind Key, on “Secret Dream” I feared the worst. Fortunately the rest of the band (Emanuele Colella: guitars, Lele Castaldo: bass, Andrea Stipa: drums, and Dario de Cicco: piano, keyboards, Rhodes) struggles themselves to offer us a complex music with a prog metal framework but also with references to classic progressive rock and even american pomp rock played by bands like Styx, Trillion or Pavlov´s Dog. Dario is a keyboardist who knows how to use all the resources of his instrument in order to provide the music with lots of variation.
Mind Key drinks, and drinks a lot, from the fountains of american progressive metal with European substratum (Shadow Gallery), and that can be noticed in “Secret Dream” (8:18). “Love Remains the Same” (6:47) is a very varied track that combines sporadic electric discharges led by keyboards (keep on thinking in Shadow Gallery), with pomp moments and even shitty mood moments. We´re getting closer to AOR with effective “Deep Inside” (6:05), a very american track that could fit in Styx´s “Edge of the Century” not only because Basile´s voice sounds like DeYoung, but also the instrumental interlude remains to Shaw and co. The name of Styx is also present in the big ballad (please prepare the lighters) “Memory Calling” (4:37)... perhaps I´ve had an overdose of ballads, but nowadays only a few really move me.
After two “classic” tracks the hardest Mind Key returns with “Lord of the Flies” (9:35), a song with a great keyboards work by Dario de Cicco and with lots of changes of intensity combining tense and energetic moments. A good track with nice instrumental developments that balance classic prog and metal prog “World of Illusion” (8:26) tries, with less success, to repeat the formula although it has good guitar licks by Colella and a nice keyboard work by Dario de Cicco. As appetizer of the icing of the cake we have the ballad “Without Ann” (3:28), a typical ballad with piano and acoustic guitars.
The key point of the album is the mini suite “Waiting for the answer” (11:28), that has an instrumental first part of almost three minutes (“Soul Voyager”) with a beautiful piano that lights the path to the rest of the band. The second part (“The Zero Dimension”) reasserts everything I´ve stated about the band.. lots of preciseness and variation between heavy and classic moments.
This is their debut album and to be sincere it´s a very good work. Dario de Cicco and his mates take up a place where there aren´t many bands. Mixing good piano and keyboard melodies with powerful guitars and nice vocal melodies. Without tighten the rope or forcing the machine of cheap sparking Mind Key proves that they´re a good band who can be enjoyed both by progressive and metal fans.