Review: “The Mind Awakes” by Second Brain

Calling themselves a Freeform Thrash band, which in reality is shorthand for a blend of Thrash Metal, Death Metal,  Progressive Rock and Alternative Metal stylings, Second Brain from Roma Italy has originally slated their sophomore album and follow up to 2014’s “Synthesis” entitled “The Mind Awakes” for November 2019. For whatever reason, the quintet of Agravain on Vocals and rhythm guitar, Lala Gabarth on Vocals and cello, Dagonus on Lead Guitar, Anagoor on Bass guitar and last but not least Dominus on Drums delayed the album, recorded and mixed at Artesonika Studios in Italy and featuring artwork by Costin Chioreanu until January, allowing only single “The Key” to be heard.

Opening with the beautiful “(The Mind Asleep)“, a 98 second glowing ember of acoustic guitar that builds into the electric with the harmonic call of Gabarth. It is very much the beckoning of a siren that drags passing ships onto the rocks as the sailors lust after them. This makes way for the album title track “The Mind Awakes” which fits neatly in the space between 80s Thrash and Melodic Death Metal. Agravain’s unclean vocals are cutting but clean enough to be completely understandable while Gabarth adds light to the darkness with a choral backing vocal. A slick solo and blast beat section make it a fine way to get the blood flowing. “Come What May” has a bass heavy mix with Anagoor’s instrument at times being almost a lead one as it nuances out of the mix. The solo on this one from Dagonus is a slowed down version of something you’d hear on a DragonForce track with virtuoso skill while the synth addition adds a little touch of Tabasco to the Bloody Mary. “King Of Treachery” is a blood and thunder track with a splattering of bast beats and some Black Metal influences on display. A mid song evil laugh on loop and fade ushers in some bright lead guitar flourishes before returning to the pounding rhythmic grooves of the Norwegian Forests as night falls. The longest track on the album, it has a few experiments under its winged expanse including a passage of Cello and some of the acoustic work that brought the album in with “(The Mind Asleep)” to close on a thoughtful moment.

The second half of the album starts with  “Sickest Breed“, one of two songs to have a catchy sing-a-long chorus. Momentary pauses in the riffs give and push and pull feel to proceedings and highlight the aforementioned chorus. Indeed if it wasn’t for the cut throat vocals you could be listening to a Megadeth demo from the early days, such is the quality of the musicanship. Single “The Key” has been around for nearly 4 months at the time of the album release and is an obvious choice as a single. It’s more melodic with bright harmonies in lead guitar flourishes and cleaner all round vocals with Gabarth adding a delicate backing vocal to the cleaner uncleans. A Technical Metal solo and another with a sing-a-long quality “we are, drops in the ocean, caught in the circle of life“. Never a truer word spoken. “Heralds Of New Beliefs” starts like a raging bull before dropping off and kicking in again at a frantic frenetic pace. It takes a leaf our of the book of Canadian Blackened Thrashers Dizastra with some serious gallop between jackhammer blast beat sections. Gabarth’s beautiful clean vocals are very much in the classical sense and reminiscent of Lindsay Schoolcraft of Cradle of Filth fame though they aren’t used as much as hers are. Changing direction with “Wind Spirit” which sees Agravain deliver some clean vocals and Gabarth playing a greater role before things pick up, there is more folk infused Black Metal to close the album on a sombre and thoughtful note. It pays off as it is a fine piece of musicanship that would spoil the flow of the album if it was anywhere else and wraps around neatly to “(The Mind Asleep)”  [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. (The Mind Asleep)
  2. The Mind Awakes
  3. Come What May
  4. King of Treachery
  5. Sickest Breed
  6. The Key
  7. Heralds Of New Beliefs
  8. Wind Spirit

The Mind Awakes” by Second Brain is out 24th January and will be available via bandcamp

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