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Universal Minds - Lost in the Haze of a Dream

Universal Minds
Lost in the Haze of a Dream
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 30 May 2018, 6:44 AM

If you need a brief lesson in the genre of Progressive music, I’ll provide one. The roots of the genre can be traced back to bands like GENESIS, YES, KING CRIMSON, RUSH, and others. In the early 1980’s, it was “metalized” by bands like FATES WARNING and QUEENSRYCHE. In the later part of the decade, it morphed into the beast we know as DREAM THEATER. They carried that banner high for many, many years. But, by its very definition, the genre of Progressive music has evolved highly since then, and in many different directions. The variety of new bands that are out there now is highly impressive. One such new band is UNIVERSAL MINDS, a one-man Progressive Instrumental band, created and performed entirely by Sim Diamond. “Lost in the Haze of a Dream” is his debut release, and contains eight tracks.

“Echoes from a Far Reality” is a brief opening song, with somber tones, from strings and bells. It builds slowly, allowing more brightness to shine through as it continues. Something about the progressions remind me a bit of WINTERSUN, at least in some of their more melancholy sounds. “Alchemy of Lies and Truth” opens with some clean guitar and a decidedly NWOBHM influence, especially IRON MAIDEN. A distorted lead than enters and the pace picks up a bit. Sim shows some great work on the leads, as the follow the melody line with passion and emotion. It ends as it started, with thoughtful clean guitars. “Reign of Stars” has an expressive sound and some more, great lead guitar work. Sim is really able to get a lot out of the instrument, following several different lead melodies over top of the main riffs. “Winter Romance” is a fitting title for a song with some affect that varies from joy and excitement at times, and a little sad at others, or at least more pensive. The lead guitar follows Classical scales at times here.

“Land of Dreams and Mist” opens with some soft keys and guitars, and a dreamy, ethereal sound. About half way in, distorted guitar slams in, earnest and sentimental. “Journey of the Lonely Soul” has a reflective and contemplative sound, echoing what is in the title…a journey of discovery perhaps? As the longest song on the album, it is explorative, as a journey is about the ride and not the destination. “Classical Chemistry” is again another great song title, as Sim works the lead guitar hard on classical guitar scales, reminiscent of Yngwie Malmsteem but without all of the over-the-top bombast that Yngwie plays with at times that can take away from the bulk of the sound. “Endless Empitness” closes the album, on a doleful note. Weeping lead guitar notes hit the ground like dying leaves falling on a cold day at the end of autumn, marking the coming of winter.

With UNIVERSAL MIND’s “Lost in the Haze of a Dream,” we really have a guitar lover’s delight. Steeped in the traditions of guitar metal albums that first arose in the 1980’s, like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteem, Marty Friedman, and Jason Becker, to name but a few, it’s fresh, well thought out, and diverse, as Sim explores different styles and a bevy of emotions through his fingers on the fretboard. The Classical influences are noteworthy, and the Progressive elements are there, keeping it forward-thinking. He clearly has the talent to take his music to great heights. I have always maintained that good guitar players can simulate vocals with a melody line, and Sim does just that here.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Echoes from a Far Reality
2. Alchemy of Lies and Truth
3. Reign of Stars
4. Winter Romance
5. Land of Dreams and Mist
6. Journey of the Lonely Soul
7. Classical Chemistry
8. Endless Emptiness
Sim Diamond – Everything
Record Label: Independent


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