These days in Poland, a musical tendency’s going on: very good to excellent prog rock and prog metal albums are being released one after another. After albums by Votum and Qube – just to name a few – here’s another one worth listening to. Acute Mind were formed in 2006 by guitarist Arkadiusz (Arek) Piskorek, who asked fellow guitar player Pawel Ciuraj for help to form a band. After some line-up changes they finally found a vocalist in Marek Majewski in 2009 and things started to get better when they were contracted by the Polish record label Electrum.
Now they’ve released their first eponymous album and after listening to it several times, it began to grow on me. It’s a splendid debut album: progressive and heavy, with strong vocals and full of emotion. My first impression was that this could be another Vanden Plas- album as well, because Marek’s voice has the same intense, dramatic tone as Andy Kuntz. In the song structures you can hear a lot of twists and keyboard melodies similar to Vanden Plas. However, there’s more. The first song Grief And Pain for instance, has a fine, almost melodic rock chorus on top of heavy guitars. Combined with the almost spoken vocals in some parts of the song, this is a perfect start of the album. When I wake up in the morning, I always have a melody line in my head and sometimes a part of Grief And Pain (‘set your face against decay…’) is the first thing that comes to mind. Next song Garden also has the aforementioned resemblance with Vanden Plas, but in addition you get a very nice keyboard part and a guitar solo over some impressive bass lines by Wojciech Rowicki and adventurous drumming by Dariusz Hanaj. Misery, a soft ballad-like song, has catchy vocal lines that perfectly fit Marek’s voice. Keyboards are the backbone of the symphonic Sweet Smell Of Success. However, not only in this piece; all songs have multi-layered keyboards to colour up the tracks. A fine repeating heavy riff completes this wonderful song. Dorota Turkiewicz ’s atmospheric synthesizers open Faces leading you to an instrumental piece with massive guitar work, great guitar and bass solos and a tasteful piano solo. In this song, the band’s producer Slawek (Guadky) Gladyszewski adds some lead guitar. A dark bass leads to Bad Incitements, a moody progressive rock/metal song with lots of synthesizer sounds at the background. This mid-tempo song takes you to Bonds Of Fear, where the heavy riffs go hand in hand with the majestic voice of Marek. Fiery guitars and relaxed vocals lead Prophecy to a climax with some heavy bass drums that slowly fade away and finish the album.
The progressive rock/metal played by Acute Mind has a very high standard. The band’s not only influenced by Vanden Plas, but I hear hints from Believe, Arena and Dream Theater as well. This new Polish band made a stunning debut album, which deserves the label: great Polish progressive rock. I’m looking forward to hear more of this band and I hope they get the chance to play all over Europe. Maybe a double concert with Votum…?
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013