MENTAL HOME


"Upon The Seas of Inner Shores" (Century Media/The End; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

With "Upon The Shores Of Inner Seas" distinguished Russian metal heroes Mental Home have further established themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the melodic metal realm. With a shift from black metal to a more symphonic approach that incorporates true metal with doom and gothic elements it seems as though Mental Home have finally struck upon a sound and style that is truly their own.

Mental Home have added a semi-progressive sound a la Rush and Dream Theater into their metal-Russian melodies. The songs are greatly improved with slower tempos, a greater sense of pacing, and more varied songwriting. One easy way to say it is that Mental Home is a heavier version of recent Sentenced.

The music is balanced as the bass is better mixed into the overall attack. The drum sound isn't as sharp as I'd like it to be, but why am I complaining? Mental Home's sound is unique and the tone is mostly ambient with tons of reverb.

The vocals are less raspy than on "Black Art" and have more of a somber elegance - the vocals match the lyrics quite well. Drudgery of everyday existence, near dementia, hell-on-Earth, and swirling hopelessness dominate the lyric sheet - a pageantry of madness if you will. Overall, the vocals are under-produced (as is the case on previous efforts) and is really the only significant element that needs to be improved upon in future recording ventures. 

Overall "Upon The Seas Of Inner Shores" is big step forward for Mental Home.

"Upon The Seas Of Inner Shores" was produced by Mental Home.

Mental Home is Sergey Dmitriev on vocals and guitars, Sergey Kalachov on lead guitar, Michael "Maiden" Smirnoff on keyboards, Denis Samusev on bass, and Igor Dmitriev on drums. 

For more information visit http://www.rusmetal.ru/mentalhome


"Black Art" (The End; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Mental Home's "Black Art" is an interesting mix of doom, power, and black metal; it's horribly cliché to say this, but if someone put one part My Dying Bride, one part Nocturnal Rites, and two parts Dimmu Borgir into a blender Mental Home would be the result. As a reference point, it's neither good nor bad, but it is the only apt description that I can come up with.

The arching grandeur of the doom style is in evidence without being too slow or too deep in tone. The black metal style is reflected in the Mental Home presentation primarily in the keyboards. The keyboards are more classical in nature - in fact, Mental Home come closest to capturing the speed of Children Of Bodom and the fluidity of Dimmu Borgir in their sound - that's quite an achievement. 

The first two tracks, "Under The Wing" and "The Plague Omen," are exotic atmospheric doom voyages. The stellar, epic work of Opeth is recalled on the sprawling "On A Hand Of A Universe." The metallic "Pagan Freedom" is an appealing track highlighting the Russian condition in metaphorical ellipses as the country struggles with its new found freedoms and relative slow pace of change for the better.

The influence of black metal is also evident in the vocals. However, the black metal vocal style is employed without the "cheesy" evil lyrics. The lyrics here are narrative tales with romantic and fantasy backdrops. The lyrics deal with such topics as confusion between reality and imagination, the struggle of the human condition, sorrow in life's events, and a nearly fatalistic view of past events dictating the future.
The vocals are sung in a raspy, death metal growl without being too harsh.

The promotional sticker on the disc says "crowning achievement in atmospheric dark doom metal." While this work certainly stands out I would have to say that Mental Home will have more crowning achievements in the years to come.

"Black Art" was produced and arranged by Mental Home. The disc is a great listen, too, as it sounds awesome in its scope and tones. The mix is average; personally, I wish the vocals could have been a little higher in the mix and with a little more clarity (I find myself saying this quite often these days!). There's no doubt in my mind that better production values will help Mental Home immensely.  

The digipak packaging is awesome. The inclusion of the video for "Pagan Freedom" is a nice touch as well. 

Mental Home is Sergey Dmitriev on vocals and guitars, Denis Samusev on bass, Michael "Maiden" Smirnoff on keyboards, Igor Dmitriev on drums, Sergey Kalachov on lead guitar, and Emily Saaen on vocals. 

For more information visit http://www.rusmetal.ru/mentalhome and discover one of the brighter aspects of the Russian metal scene.


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: 15 Mar 2017 23:33:43 -0500.