The Dutch prog metal band Mind:Soul started around 2010 and was initiated by Tom de Wit. After they had recorded two EPs and a DVD, they felt that it was time for a full-fledged debut album, which was published for the non-profit label Layered Reality Productions. This label is also a project De Wit started. The Way It Should Be has been recorded with the following musicians: Roland le Fèvre (piano, synths), Jim O.S. Ilden (guitars), Stefan van Leeuwenstijn (guitars), Joey Klerkx (bass, vocals), Raul Tămaş (drums) and band leader De Wit (vocals, guitars, synths, orchestration). After the release the band went through some line-up changes. Le Fèvre, Ilden and Tămaş quit the band to be replaced by drummer Inca César and a guitarist by the difficult name of Müşfik Can Müftüoğlu.
The Way It Should Be is a concept album dealing with love, hatred and how to learn about each other within a relationship. In songs like Breakpoint Hour, Caught (In the Pressure Cooker) and I Tried to Help the technical style of Dream Theater is blended with more melodious vocal parts and elements of more powerful styles like metal and death metal. Tom de Wit's relaxed way of singing is a strong feature of the band. With his forceful voice he keeps everything together. As far as I'm concerned De Wit is one of the most talented singers I've recently heard.
When his voice comes together with the grunts provided by Joey Klerkx, the result is just superb. Listen for instance to Forever, and you'll get my drift. The sound of the guitars is another strength of Mind:Soul. They really sound heavy, but always crystal clear and sharp, which indicates that the album was produced outstandingly. Apart from the powerful tracks also relaxed compositions can be found on this CD, like Over and Drown Together, wherein the piano is the leading instrument. De Wit's voice is the connecting link between the different moods. I already mentioned the sound of the guitars, but I also have to give credits to the way the drums and bass have been placed in the sound image. All instruments sound solid and transparent.
The Way It Should Be also contains some shorter interludes just to connect the different pieces in the concept. In my opinion, the album's highlight is the final composition One Night Alone, an epic piece that lasts more than twelve minutes. All the musical elements used in the previous songs are joined together here. At certain points the singing slightly reminded me of Mariusz Duda (Riverside) in combination with very heavy guitar sounds. The keyboards, however, are always present to create the song's atmosphere. For my taste this is a perfect composition.
I was completely overwhelmed by the music of Mind:Soul, which is exceedingly good! All compositions have been based on heavy prog metal containing melodious, powerful vocals and occasional grunts. The keyboards absolutely stand out, but are mainly in service of the compositions, while the rhythm section sounds adventurous and strong. The album has been produced perfectly and packed in a digipack. For all these reasons this album deserves the maximum rating of five stars.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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