"Angels of the Apocalypse" (Inside Out Music America; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Mastermind is the creative force of Bill Berends and "Angels Of The Apocalypse" is the band's sixth album. For the uninitiated, it might seem that the title would make this a death metal album, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is stellar progressive metal with a variety of influences and sounds thrown in for good measure.

Mastermind has combined the best of '70s progressive rock (with obvious inspiration from Emerson Lake and Palmer) to today's progressive masters (Dream Theater) with the overall result of "Angels Of The Apocalypse" being a very pleasing production from beginning to end. There's well over 70 minutes of material here so there is a lot to digest, but it is exciting throughout. Classical threads, Middle Eastern melodies, guitar histrionics a la Steve Vai, and strong musicianship make "Angels Of The Apocalypse" a great disc.

Bill Berends has considerable guitar talents evoking the sound of such greats as Ritchie Blackmore and Al Di Meola as well as the fluid modern style of Vinnie Moore into one formidable whole. Berends utilizes the midi-guitar to gain a full range of sounds. At times intricate and at other times pure rock, Berends' guitar work is chock full of substance and fire. 

The complexity of the music is not a threat to Rich Berends (yet another team of brothers who can really rock). Rich Berends' drumming, thanks to the very good production, can be heard at all times and adds new colors at each and every turn. 

Vocalist Lisa Bouchelle, recently added to Mastermind, is impressive with her flowing vocals that are as unique and as they are powerful.  Bouchelle's great vocal on "A Million Miles Away" is one of the better performances I've heard by a vocalist in a long time. 

Unbeknownst to me when I received this CD, however, was a secret weapon lying in wait.

Mastermind's secret weapon is Jens Johansson. Johansson, who cut his teeth playing with Yngwie Malmsteen in the late '80s and early '90s, plays keyboards with confidence and his presence elevates the CD to levels of greatness. 

"Angels Of The Apocalypse" is heavy enough to satisfy most metal fans and not so heavy as to alienate those who only like progressive rock. I highly recommend Mastermind for those who can't get enough of Dream Theater, Rush, and other heavier bands in the progressive and art-rock scenes. 

"Angels Of The Apocalypse" was produced by Bill Berends and Rich Berends. All music and lyrics were written by Bill Berends. 

Mastermind is Bill Berends on guitars, midi-guitar, bass, and vocals; Rich Berends on drums, timpani, and percussion; Jens Johansson on keyboards; and Lisa Bouchelle on mezzo-soprano vocals. Additional musicians include Bob Eckman on 5 string bass, Hollis Brown on electric violin, and John Paoline on additional vocals. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07 Aug 2023 20:46:38 -0400.