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I remember that, when this album first came out, back in 1993, it made a rather large impact and was perceived with excitement and rather encouraging comments from the press. The video for the single “Roll The Fire” became a small hit, and it appeared on the screens of MTV pretty often. Conception was considered to be the next big hope of power / progressive metal. Unfortunately for the group, however, this sudden fame turned out to be more harmful than beneficial. Being a band that was always eager to experiment with their music, Conception chose to slightly modify their style with their next album, “In Your Multitude”, and therefore became virtually forgotten, almost as quickly as they had gained their sudden popularity. Indeed, nowadays Conception are mostly remembered for the fact that it was Roy Khan’s previous band, before he joined Kamelot.
Looking back through time, one can judge “Parallel Minds” in cold blood and objectively, without having to jump into conclusions about the future of the band. The first impression created is that “Parallel Minds” is, in fact, an excellent and memorable record. This might sound vague, but this album truly has something to say, as it seems to bear a distinct identity, a character of its own. Listening to the ten tracks that are included in the play list, one can easily assume that “Parallel Minds” owes its high degree of originality and quality mostly to two persons: guitarist / composer Tore Østby and vocalist / lyricist Roy Khan.
To begin with, the guitar work delivered by Tore Østby is nothing less than marvellous. The guitarist of Conception not only manages to combine a variety of metal influences (Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen, Pantera) with jazz and progressive rock (mainly Pink Floyd but also Rush, to a lesser extent) elements, but he moreover achieves to integrate all these influences into his own, personal style. His riffs aren’t extremely complicated or hard to follow, yet they are unveiled in manner capable of captivating the ear, as well as the mind of the potential listener. Østby seems to be one of those guitarists that charm their audience thanks to the distinctiveness of their sound, without having to rely on cheap tricks or supersonic speeds to impress. The only drawback in the guitar work of “Parallel Minds” is the fact that the solos could be a little more aggressive or longer in duration at certain occasions.
Furthermore, Conception’s second full - length album holds an excellent vocal performance by Roy Khan. Nowadays, most power metal fans are familiar with this vocalist from Norway, mostly due to his extremely good work with Kamelot. His contributions in albums like “”Siége Perilous”, “Karma” or the recent “Ghost Opera”, have gained him the status of one of the best contemporary power metal vocalists. The fact that he possesses a uniquely passionate voice, which works extremely well under melodic conditions, has offered Khan the opportunity to become particularly famous. This may sound far - fetched, but his performance in “Parallel Minds” transcends everything he has ever achieved with Kamelot. More specifically, the passionate touch that has made Khan so famous is evident in all the songs included in Parallel Minds, yet the lead vocalist of Conception also displays a willingness to experiment with his voice and employs a number of other approaches, alternative to the “traditional” melodic one. What is more, he seems to have excellent control of his voice. Thus, the result sound much more multidimensional than his work with Kamelot.
The rest of the band also appear to be accomplished musicians, and the level of their performance adds to the overall quality of the album. However, the technical performance of Conception would be of little importance, if the songs of “Parallel Minds” were uninspired and unimaginative. This is absolutely not the case: the tracks of “Parallel Minds” constitute the main strength of this record. As far as their musical content is concerned, Tore Østby’s ten compositions represent a wide variety of all the healthy forms of power metal. “Parallel Minds” contains tracks that sound heavy and remorseless (“Water Confines”, “Wolf’s Lair”), tracks of mid tempo speed with catchy refrains (“Roll The Fire”, “Parallel Minds”), even a track with a more commercial feel (“The Promiser)”, as well as a wonderful ballad (“Silent Crying”). Finally, the album closes with “Soliloquy”, a nine minute long song where progressive (mainly reminiscent of Dream Theater) elements come to the surface. As stated above, “Roll The Fire” was quick to become a small hit and accounted for most of the amount of fame that Conception achieved. Although “Roll The Fire” is indeed a tune of unquestionable quality and deserved the attention it eventually got, there are clearly even better songs within the album.
What is more, Roy Khan deserves an additional special praise for his exceptional lyrics. The lead vocalist of Conception seems capable of knowing exactly how to describe the introspective feelings and thoughts of a solitary and restless person. Furthermore, inner struggles are not the only issue Roy Khan puts the finger on: he also examines the relationship between mankind and technology, as well as the emotions of a person who experiences unfulfilled love. The words chosen are always deep and accurate, fact that makes the lyrics of “Parallel Minds” another positive aspect of the album.
Overall, “Parallel Minds” is an excellent specimen of power / progressive metal, an album that was unfortunately forgotten much more quickly than it deserved. If you happen to come across it, don’t miss the opportunity to give it a chance.