Mind Key – MkIII – Aliens In Wonderland Review

GenreProgressive Metal
Release Date12 July 2019
Record LabelFrontiers

For the first time in a decade, Italian prog outfit Mind Key have released a new album. MkIII – Aliens in Wonderland is, as the name suggests, the band’s third record to date, and it’s full of choppy riffs, Phil Collinsy melodies, and 80s pop metal elements. Needless to say, Aliens in Wonderland delivers a widely varied experience that’ll please metalheads both old and new.

Along with the cheesy synths and arpeggiations that are so common in 80s music, the album is full of organs and strings that mend incredibly well with the more electronic synth parts to create a more modern sound. And, thanks to the crystal-clear mixing, every different part is distinguishable from the other, even among the excitement of the choruses. Whether behind the raspy hair metal vocals or the stylish guitar solos, the backing tracks maintain a rich and fluid energy.

Furthermore, Mind Key’s musicianship is nothing to laugh at. They make it apparent early on that the band is very much a team effort, relying more on synced syncopation and creating soundscapes than breaking off with many show-stealing fills or riffs. For an album like this, the approach works well, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have some crazy thrown out here and there. Yeah, the soloing is really good, but for an entertaining 80s album like this, there’s plenty of space for extra spice.

One thing I find strange about Aliens in Wonderland is that every song on the record could be played in the end credits of a late 80s/early 90s movie. There’s a consistent air of bittersweet reflection that’s present in the entire album, which is probably why Phil Collins is in the front of my mind when I listen to it.

That is, when I listen to every song except for ‘Psycho World’, which unleashes Mind Key’s burning heart to ignite into a training montage of Beast in Black proportions. The synths are relentless, the guitars are heavy, and the chorus rides with the harmonic power of hair metal’s greatest. It’s the best song on the album without regard to soloing (because that trophy is awarded to ‘Pure He/art’ and that mean fucking solo section of synthesizer fury) so make sure to at least listen to this one.

To say the least, Mind Key’s comeback album is a massive success. And what a weird success it is. Mixing 80s synthpop elements into metal is nothing new, but the way it’s done in Aliens in Wonderland is unusual; it’s natural enough that it sounds like it actually came into the future through a time machine yet its contemporary enough that it fits comfortable among modern melodic metal. No matter where it ends up being categorized, it’s undoubtedly unique and a ton of fun.

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Stay Metal \m/

First track begins like an 80s sci-fi movie
Second track Dream Theatery, some vocal harmonies. Pulled back section has some nice patter drums.
Hate at First Sight: Kind of symphonic. Cool solo.
Angry Men: starts with heavy riffage, a bit darker. Sick solo section, key solo is mean.
Hands off Cain is a bit of a miss. Ballad.
Be Polar: super synthy. cool scifi fx in the background, cheesy synth in background.
Oblivion: laid back, piano.
Psycho World: pump up tune.

Great riffs and proggy runs,
Melodies are very 80s, kind of Phil Collinsy.
Very full sound with strings, synths, techno sfx, organs.

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