An astonishing trip into progressive metal’s musical psyche

The term progressive is thrown around way too liberally in this day and age.

If a band plays songs longer than ten minutes or has technical parts and solo like a wild bumblebee on steroids, they are labeled as progressive. Nine times out of ten, they just over-stretch their limitations, are technical for the sake of technicality or play long just to write big long songs. However, there are some that possess a truly progressive mindset that also possess the technicality and the ability to write lengthy compositions, but what sets them apart is the way they think outside the box. Symmetry (In)Sanity, the debut release for Sydney’s Paradigm covered those bases and their follow up Mind is Key also does that and then some.

Not wasting any time, “Android” leaps out of the gate like a racehorse being threatened with a trip to the glue factory. Over the next 16 plus minutes, it seems that the entire musical spectrum is being violently shaken. Everything shifts around with chimerical blasts of technicality, brutality and atmospheric influence all rolled in with an abundance of finger blistering guitar solos, chugging riffs and freakish drumwork moving at a frenetic pace. It is mind-bending how they can all keep up with each other, but they pull it off.  It’s rather likea crazier Psycroptic with a cleaner vocal attack from Thomas Arcadi. If your jaw has not hit the ground within the first minute, you may not be human.

The pace doesn’t stop there. “Portals” carries onto a similar path but in the middle shifts gears into a fusion territory where guitarist James Ivanyi shows signs of Allan Holdsworth, with a beautiful and melodic solo passage that really hits the sweet spot before resuming the musical insanity. “Atmosphere” is a bit slower by the standards set with a greater emphasis on delivering a plodding, doomy groove (that shows drummer David Horgan’s well rounded skills) mixed with post metal tendancies and an almost bluesy Gilmouresque solo from Ivanyi. “Written in Blood” is heavy as a very heavy thing. On the other completely different side of the spectrum, “Visions” is a delicately lush, haunting offering that showcases the band’s ability to create something that is mind blowing without going balls out and closing the proceedings “Wish Us Light” takes on an almost upbeat, borderline commercial feel and swing without sacrificing the compositional skills or technicalities.

All of this is tied off nicely by a dynamic mix courtesy of producer extrordinaire Darren “Jenk” Jenkins who once again proves that world class production is  achievable within your own backyard, rather than looking for overseas assistance.

Mind is Key
is an astonishing trip into progressive metal’s musical psyche. This may be a lot to swallow at first, but with further listens it can be appreciated for what it is.

1. Android
2. Portals
3. Atmosphere
4. Visions
5. Written in Blood
6. Wish Us Light