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Back in the rather confusing period that was the mid 2000s, a number of rather interesting acts popped out of Norway and Sweden that cut a bit against the grain in terms of what normally comes from said area. While power metal is far from alien in Sweden, few will recount a band sounding anything like the short-lived Lost Horizon, which actually found itself imploding at around this time period. Similarly, neighboring Norway had developed a reputation for being a number of things, but progressive metal is arguably pretty low on the list. While Pagan's Mind had developed a fairly steady output by 2005 and were being hyped by a very vocal collection of fans, it would pale in comparison to the massive hype that seemed to follow Norway's other atypical metal export in Communic, particularly that of their first two full length releases.
Classifying Conspiracy In Mind isn't difficult if one fixates on one or two particular songs, but trying to put the entire bulk of its contents into a specific category is a bit more difficult. One thing that rings very true is that the band definitely plays up the whole "power trio" angle pretty significantly, as each musician puts for a very impressive technical display while avoiding turning into an outright tech oriented affair. But the specific style in play varies fairly significantly from one offering to the next. Many have been fairly quick to point out some similarities to that of Nevermore, particularly in the case of the heavy hitting opener and title song "Conspiracy In Mind", where first impressions tend to prevail. While vocalist and guitarist Oddleif Stensland doesn't really sound much like Warrel Dane (he's got a nimbler range and listens closer to the vintage 80s metal vocalist that Dane was closer to in his Sanctuary days), the riff work on display can't help but draw heavy parallels to a number of select songs off of Enemies Of Reality, to speak nothing for the more than slight hint of an Andy Sneap character in the guitar production.
Having said that, while the title song and the fairly repetitive "Communication Sublime" point towards a heavier, almost modern thrash/groove approach to progressive metal, a lot of this album floats to a number of distant tangents. Arguably the most unique moment of this album comes in on the heavily ballad-oriented "They Feed On Our Fear", which sees Oddleif's lighter crooning character bring a heavy element of late 80s Fates Warning into the mix, coming off as being sorrowful rather than menacing. Granted, at times it almost sounds like this song is reaching for the sad and otherworldly places that Dreaming Neon Black went to, but the keyboard drenched atmosphere of the softer moments and the generally sentimental feel of the song definitely hints at a slightly less modern character. "The Distance" takes a similar road with an even sadder mix of clean and acoustic guitars amid the haze of droning keyboards, leaving room for introspection and reflection as well as regret. The only thing that hampers things a bit is the overuse of exact repetition coupled with very little variation, which could partially be attributed to the smaller arrangement.
It's easier to see those less inclined towards power metal tinged progressive metal in the mold of Pagan's Mind and a number of even more Helloween oriented Italian bands like Labyrinth and Secret Sphere to take a liking to this album, as it's drawn from more of a traditional 80s heavy metal paradigm with a helping of mid 90s groove. It's not technical enough to truly trade blows with the likes of Outworld or Dream Theater, and Stensland's lead work is more soulful and simplistic than even the methodical shredding of Jeff Loomis. This is, in the end, a complex album that also manages to be humble in its presentation. It falls a bit short in the flow department, as each song seems to hang on just a minute or two too long. But song for song, this is a solid album that manages to fall just a tad short of measuring up to the adulation that was pouring out of certain sectors of the metal scene when it was first unleashed.
This Norwegian progressive metal band with the great cover artwork can be described as a calmer version of "Nevermore". The band's influence can especially be heard in the rather mellow and faceless opener and title track "Conspiracy in mind" and the too repetitive "Communication sublime". Many tracks in here have a couple of good ideas but it feels as if the band wasn't courageous enough to do anything they wanted or would have been able to do. The songs repeat the same patterns in a sometimes hypnotizing but sometimes also monotonous way and are often way too long. "They feed on our fear" would be an amazing song if it would be about five minutes long but ten minutes are definitely too much to keep the tension, interest and quality high in here. To be honest, some tracks get quite boring after a while like "Ocean bed". The same riffs and vocal lines are over and over repeated and come back and back again.
The band though always convince when they use softer melodies and write emotional and dreamy power ballads such as my favourite song in here which is "The distance" or the slightly heavier and more diversified and almost equally amazing "History reversed" that remind me a little bit of the calmer songs of the metal icons such as "Metallica" or "Iron Maiden". The difference is that those songs are interesting and relaxing but don't have the same intense moments and the same soul as the softer tracks of the other two bands. But as this is the band's first strike and the comparison with those metal legends not quite fair, I wouldn't criticize them for that. The epic album closer "Silence surrounds" unites the very present "Nevermore" influences with the ballad parts and would be my third highlight.
In the end, the band simply copies too many influences from "Nevermore" and writes quite repetitive and overlong tracks that don't get to the point. There are three very good tracks but on the other side four rather boring and uninspired songs that pull the balance of the album down. In the end, I can talk about a relaxing and easy to digest progressive metal record that misses some unique elements and a proper style of the band. The band doesn't vary much and sounds on a more positive term more coherent than many other progressive metal bands but I feel they took the safe way and could do much better. The album is far from being perfect but enjoyable from time to time and a must have for any fan of "Nevermore" and their music.
Quiver no more, blooming music fanatics. Our generation may be yet redeemed. Thought-provoking, original, technical and memorable, Communic’s first offering, ‘Conspiracy in Mind’ is a must for any who go by the tag metalhead.
‘Conspiracy in Mind’ offers a sigh of relief and a whiff of encouragement to metal fans. Many of us curse pre-teen influence on the industry that bubbles elementary, yawn-inducing music to the top and keeps talented bands in the shadows. Those who have grown tired of nu-metal and the ‘core’ crowd will take Communic under their wing proudly.
My first Communic album was actually ‘Waves of Visual Decay,’ which I also include on my list of necessities in the event of the apocalypse. With ‘Conspiracy in Mind,’ however, I think influence was minimal as prior to their first release they were relatively unknown. The production quality of the album is noticeably different.
It’s time to divulge my thoughts on the content of the disc, but I want to clarify something first. This band has been labeled as power/progressive metal which rubs me the wrong way. I’m a huge power metal fan and care not to bash it. I feel, however, that the name can be a turnoff for many metalheads. More accurately, I find this music in the vein of solely progressive metal. Power metal frequently uses simple and syncopated yet lightning fast drum beats layered beneath guitar rhythms that defy finger anatomy (Lord Tim from Dungeon). Some may argue, “Pagan’s Mind is power metal!” Ah, but yes, don’t forget they are strongly influenced by the titan, Dream Theater, which has become a household phrase for a progressive metal band.
On to the music you plead! Of course.
From the first time I listened to ‘Conspiracy in Mind’ and every single time thereafter, I’ve been convinced that Communic’s strongest quality is the atmosphere. Oddleif Stensland paints this amazing sound through clean, mellow, beefy, aggressive and so many other styles of playing and singing. He makes me think of Profokiev, a Russian composer who did not invent the Russian classical style but did a fantastic job defining it.
Guitar creativity, solos, technicality, clean harmonies, and riffing all are present giving the listener nothing to complain about. Fast heavy riffs please the headbanger, and slower, thoughtful melodies perk the ears of the intent listener.
As a drummer, I think it’s fair to say that drumming across the board is basically equivalent (exceptions for prodigies like Portnoy, Roddy or Olias), but I am not saying the drumming is humdrum on this album by any means. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Oddleif Stenslandand and Tor Atle Gabrielsen-Andersen have been playing together for so long they complement one another like French wine and cheese…or beer and pizza for the less classy.
The bottom line is that if you’re open to long, complex songs and that you crave melodies, harmonies and musical science, Communic is a must have for you.
Now here's a fucking album, and a damn good one. This is my first review, and I decided to review Communic's album Conspiracy In Mind. If you are a fan of prog/power or metal in general you need to check this band out. They are a new band who only formed a couple of years ago. Their album doesn't officially come out until February, but I managed to get it early. I was really looking forward to this after I heard the 3 song demo, and I can certainly say this is a fine album.
This band only has 3 members, and when you listen to the album it sounds like there's 5. Oddleif Stensland does excellent work on both vocals and guitars. This guy has some range which is probably most noticeable on the opening track Conspiracy In Mind. The drums done by Tor Atle Andersen are fast and very clean. Also helping out with a lot of the power and ass kicking is the bassist Erik Mortensen. I don't think I can pick out one track to say is my favorite because every song is amazing. The songs are long, with the shortest being 6:44. What I like about every song is the power and shit load of aggression, and also the relaxing mellow parts that are thrown in. This album has an extreme amount of energy and power, and also the album production is very good. I can't really compare these guys to any other bands, other than maybe Lost Horizon or Pagan's Mind for their power and uniqueness. I don't have any complains about this album other than I wish it had a couple more tracks. Even though it is a 57 minute album it sure doesn't seem that long because the album flows together so good it seems like only 5 minutes when the album finishes; I think they could have done better with 9 or 10 songs, but oh well, with an album this good 7 songs will do. Another good thing is there is no filler or bullshit songs, all 7 tracks are songs, which is a flaw with most power metal bands.
If Communic sticks around with the same members (unlike Lost Horizon) I think they have a very promising future; they landed a big record deal with Nuclear Blast for a couple of albums. I am already predicting Conspiracy In Mind to be one of the top ten albums of 2005. Hell, I rank this album in my top ten favorites period already (it hasn't stopped spinning since I got it) For people looking for bands with the right touch of how metal is supposed to be this album is a must get! Highly recommended!
The instant I first heard "The Distance" (my first contact with Communic) I thought "Wow, good band man..." and nothing more. A few days after, a friend of mine told me about their debut "Conspiracy In Mind", and well, I had nothing to lose, right? So I decided to listen to it carefully, and jesus christ, these guys fuckin' blew me away!
They're 3 talented guys from Norway: Oddleif Stensland on the guitars/vocals, Tor Atle Andersen on drums and Erik Mortensen on bass. What can I say about the songs? The riffs are awesome, seems like a Nevermore with Dave Mustaine's songwriting, a lil' more power metal oriented though. The leads are great, showing the great musicianship these guys have and even though they're an almost prog band, the 'feeling' is always one step above any other element. The vocals? Ah, the vocals... Mr. Stensland manages to be a cross between Warrel Dane and King Diamond with Matt Barlow's way of interpretation. Congratulations to him of course, he's one of the most versatiles singers nowadays. Tor Atle's drumming is incredible, very precise and technical many times, I dare to say that without him, this debut would'nt be so surprising. And last, but not least, Erik Mortensen does a good job either, nothing really inovative, just good.
Conspiracy In Mind - The most "Nevermore" of all songs. A great opener for a great album. The titletrack shows why they're being so praised throughout the world. Not one of my faves though...
History Reversed - Now, this is fuckin' awesome! Damn good riffs, perfect harmony between the musicians, great lead, nice lyrics (the lyrics on this album are all well-written)... Actually, this is my favorite track, along with Communication Sublime.
They Feed On Our Fear - The second longest here. The song runs at slow/mid-tempo most of the time. Nice guitar work by Oddleif again
Communication Sublime - Simply love this one. A lot of time changes, excellent riffs, the vocals are kickin' ass... Nevermore couldn't do anything better than this.
The Distance - The balad. But not as those fuckin' melodramatic tunes played by a huge number of bands. The lyrics are a great part of the song, one of the most beautiful I've seen in many years. The way Oddleif sings almost like he's suffering from a heartache the instant they're playing. Priceless.
Ocean Bed - The less impressive of all. Clockin' around 6:48, is the shortest of all. Don't get me wrong, this is still pure technical power metal with great moments. Not a filler one!
Silence Surrounds - The Epic. 11 minutes in a sea of emotions, choirs, riffs and more riffs. Along with "The Distance", this is the most emotional track on the album, even though it is not a ballad.
There's also a bonustrack called "Another Distance" which is a version for "The Distance" played on piano. Radio-friendly, but beautiful.
One of the best albums of 2005, without a doubt. Go ahead my friend, Communic is about to conquer the world.