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Mentalist – A Journey Into The Unknown Award winner

A Journey Into The Unknown
by Mark Machlay at 28 September 2021, 6:31 AM

After their widely successful debut release, German melodic metal group MENTALIST has returned fairly quickly with their sophomore full-length “A Journey Into The Unknown”, released on August 20th, 2021. The Saarbrücken, Germany-based group was founded in 2018 and consists of guitarist Peter Moog, drummer Thomen Stauch – an original member of BLIND GUARDIAN – guitarist Kai Stringer of STARCHILD and Swedish vocalist Rob Lundgren who is famous for fronting several different metal bands in different countries such as the Spanish thrash/groove metal band POWERDRIVE, the Czechian hard rock band EPILOG and Canadian progressive metal act THE MIDGARD PROJECT. Their debut album “Freedom of Speech” was released just last August of 2020, receiving near universal praise with its infectious hooks, flirtation with power metal and full-blown nostalgia throwback to the sounds of the early 2000s. Wasting no time, they set to work on a sophomore album, fully intending to surpass their previous work and managed to release it less than a year after their first record.

With “A Journey Into The Unknown”, MENTALIST have created a strong follow-up to one of the more interesting debut albums released in 2020. Just like their predecessor, this new work continues the strong focus on looming guitar melodies and vocals lines. The band’s influences are clearly evident with many nods to the power metal genre’s greats such as IRON MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN, and BLIND GUARDIAN. Once again, Oliver Palotai – the keyboardist of another great power metal band, KAMELOT – joins the band as a guest on all tracks alongside bassist Mike Lepond of SYMPHONY X on all tracks. Singer for METALIUM and FIREWIND, Henning Basse also provides guest backing vocals on most tracks as well as a duet on “Live Forever”. The album artwork is again provided by Andreas Marschall who has worked with BLIND GUARDIAN and RUNNING WILD and features the band’s mascot “The Mentalist” who makes appearances during their live shows as well. This time around, the mixing and mastering was handled by Jacob Hansen, known for working with both VOLBEAT and AMARANTHE.

If you enjoyed their debut album, MENTALIST bring all of that and more on “A Journey Into The Unknown”. Once the theatrical and grandiose instrumental intro track “Horizon” finishes, the listener is launched into the fiery and bombastic drums rolls and epic guitars of the title track and taken on quite the heavy metal journey. There are moments of reprieve such as the exquisitely delivered metal ballad “An Ocean So Deep” and the much more poignant “Soldier at War”. The latter may veer farther towards epic power metal especially as it builds to a high crescendo climax. But then you’re greeted to the creepy opening spoken line, “Hello, little one!” of “Torture King” which draws heavily from today’s politics, critiquing our modern society with a healthy dose of irony with the perfection of a band like ALESTORM but without the campiness.  Similarly, “The Dentalist” is given similar hilarious treatment and high-wire IRON MAIDEN-esque guitar theatrics and riffage. But the band is great at genuine grandiosity as well with the stunning vocal duet and highly theatrical final track “Live Forever”. The tongue-in-cheek cover of Neneh Cherry’s 1989 cheesy pop single “Manchild” is just the cherry on top of a perfect melodic/power metal record for a band who has a just the right amount of self-awareness.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Horizon
2. A Journey Into The Unknown
3. Modern Philosophy
4. Evil Eye
5. An Ocean So Deep
6. Dentalist
7. Soldier Without a War
8. Torture King
9. Battle Dressed
10. Live Forever
11. Manchild
Peter Moog – Guitars
Thomen Stauch – Drums
Kai Stringer – Guitars
Rob Lundgren – Vocals
Record Label: Pride & Joy Music


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