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Mind’s Eye – Darkly Wise (Reissue)

Mind’s Eye
Darkly Wise (Reissue)
by Dave Nowels at 24 July 2018, 1:44 PM

MIND’S EYE hailed from Florida, USA and was a band that formed in 1989 from high school friends based on their love of IRON MAIDEN, QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING and other Melodic Metal bands. “Darkly Wise” was their first and only full length album, originally recorded in 1992 at Signature Sound Studios in Orlando. Originally limited to only a release of 500 cassettes, “Darkly Wise” has been re-released in CD and digital form thanks to Arkeyn Steel Records. Remastered by Kostas Scandalis at Infinity Studios, the re-issue of “Darkly Wise” will also include bonus cuts from MIND’S EYE’s debut EP cassette, “Witching Hour” as well as an expansive glossy booklet featuring 16 pages of photos.

Opening with “Arrival”, it’s very apparent that the band was influenced by QUEENSRYCHE and MAIDEN. I could easily see this band performing locally in Florida clubs in the late 80’s and early 90’s covering “The Warning” or “Powerslave” nearly impeccably. MIND’S EYE is a genuinely talented group of musicians. But as is often the case for me when reviewing ‘new to me” bands, the vocals greatly affect how a band resonates with me. Sterling Walker’s vocal style just misses the mark for me. This is especially true on songs such as “What I Can’t See”. Walker seems intent on raising his range to a higher note to finish every lyric. Unfortunately, his range doesn’t seem to match his aspirations. This seems to be all too common in Metal, with every up and coming vocalist thinking he has to match the range of Bruce “Air Raid” Dickenson or Geoff Tate.

Lyrically there are lots of issues that jump out at me too. The album’s lyrics are credited to guitarist Borkman and drummer Schultz and at times I really struggled with how they interfered with my overall enjoyment of the album. “So Long (My Love)” starts off acoustically, seemingly about a man missing his love. This dissolves quickly with Walker referring to this former love as “you little bitch” over and over throughout the remainder of the song.  Additionally, “Fallen Trees” is another that starts off acoustically, and musically is a strong song. Unfortunately, the dated environmental based lyrics and vocal style turn the song into something somewhat laughable.

It’s really a shame, because the band’s musicianship is right on point. McMenamin and Borkman share all guitar duties and are quite impressive throughout the album. Great chemistry from the duo is apparent in the aforementioned “Fallen Trees” and especially in “Master Of The Game”, which was my favorite track along with the album’s title track “Darkly Wise”. There’s not a lot of information out there on what ultimately became of MIND’S EYE. Vocalist Sterling Walker apparently passed away in 2005, while some of the other members have gone on to play in regional bands across the country.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Arrival
2. October Queen
3. Within The Mind’s Eye
4. Storm Rising
5. Endless Rain
6. So Long (My Love)
7. Kill Aphrodite
8. What I Can’t See
9. Fallen Trees
10. Master Of The Game
11. Darkly Wise
12. Shadowplay/Unveiled
13. Curtains Will Fall
14. Witching Hour
15. Deus Ex Machina
16. The Intruder
 
Lineup:
Sterling Walker – Vocals
Dave Borkman – Lead Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Chuck McMenamin - Lead Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Chris Bongiovanni – Bass
Bryan Schultz – Drums
 
Record Label: Arkeyn Steel Records
     


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