Ahh the third album….
Many see it as a sign of finally coming of age, while to others it’s an unachievable goal marking a finality to the band. It certainly is an accomplishment, for any group of people to get along, not to mention work cohesively enough, to develop a sound and grow through the years it takes to get there. Pennsylvania based MindMaze had a bit of an advantage with lead singer and guitarist being siblings, but still, they should be proud of making it to the famed third album.
The metal world however should consider themselves blessed that said album, Resolve, is a tremendously crafted tour de force of progressive metal. Guitarist Jeff Teets, singer Sarah Teets, bassist Rich Pasqualone and drummer Mark Bennet have teamed up for a concept album that goes to all the musical doors they were knocking on in Mask of Lies and Back from the Edge, and just blows through them.
Resolve is an elaborate concept album that flows gracefully from song to song, forming more a creative whole than a collection of pieces. After the lengthy instrumental opening track Reverie, where we are introduced to the soft guitars of the ‘Resolve’ theme that re-appears throughout the album, they just tear the fucking cover off it all with Fight the Future, a six minute audio beatdown that spares no prisoners. If you aren’t sold by the end of it, try some easy listening music, maybe Yanni or Kenny G, cause your metal years are done my friend. But if you are, strap yourself in for one hell of a seventy minute ride courtesy of MindMaze. They don’t carry this pace for the whole album though, which is the real gem here. This is a concept album, and they do go through a whole gamut of emotions, with a clear beginning, middle, climax and end, just brilliantly structured.
There are no real down moments here, though they do a courtesy of a few instrumental breaks and more melodic moments to let us relax and refresh before the next ripper track. One thing that stands out is that there is no real star, everyone just slays it. Jeff is nothing short of a machine, I honestly feel sorry for his guitars. Rich keeps up with him note for note, a furious task that he handles admirably. Mark is a flat out monster on the kit. Sarah is a force to be reckoned with on vocals, her range only matched by her tremendous control, just an outstanding performance. The last six tracks are a harrowing journey, peaking with the album closing epic The Path to Perseverance, which is a soul ripper on its own, closing out the whole piece as it began.
Anyone who has been around MindMaze since the beginning can be nothing but overjoyed that their hard work and dedication has come to fruition, and in a stunning way at that. All the talent of the first two albums are brought into play, and then they go further, taking those chances that make the difference between good and great, and they nail every single one of them. MindMaze not only survived the third album challenge, they owned it.