Review: Mentalist – A Journey Into The Unknown
Mentalist Records/ Pride & Joy Music (20/08/21)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Mentalist are a Swedish group consisting of the guitars of Peter Moog and Kai Stringer, the drums of Thomen Stauch and the vocals of Rob Lundgren. On ‘A Journey into the Unknown‘, they are joined by the keyboards of Oliver Palotai, the bass of Mike LePond and vocalist Henning Basse.
The album begins with a one minute track called ‘Horizon‘ that sounds like an excerpt from the soundtrack of a fantasy epic. The first full track is the title track ‘A Journey into the Unknown‘. There’s a definite Europe feel to the song as the guitars of Peter Moog and Kai Stringer join Thomen Stauch’s furious drumming and Mike LePond’s expertise on the bass in creating a wall of sound which gives Rob Lundgren a brilliant backdrop to let loose with his fantastic vocals. It is a great soundscape that tells you that Mentalist are full of confidence as they tackle their second album.
‘Modern Philosophy‘ has a subtle start that allows the record to build slowly but inexorably as they mine influences such as Judas Priest and Rainbow but create their own unique style. It is a really interesting song both musically and lyrically and shows a band that almost seem to be riffing off of each other as they create an increasingly intricate tune. It’s a really impressive track and definitely one of my favourites on the album.
‘Evil Eye‘ is one of those tracks that you know will be fantastic live. Fast and furious, it will get the crowd singing along from the start. There were hints of Europe’s Rock the Night to me in this one and I really enjoyed it. ‘An Ocean so Deep‘ is a rock ballad that shows the smoothness and quality of Lundgren’s vocals and shows off the talents of Oliver Palotai, whose keyboards give the track a really different feel. It’s the type of track that will get the phones lit up at any concert and is one of the best rock ballads I’ve heard in ages.
‘Dentalist‘ is an uncompromising Iron Maiden style track that sees Lundgren switch from the smoothness of the previous track to the growl of a pure heavy metal vocalist. ‘Soldier Without A War‘ is a really different track that sounds unlike anything else on the album. It’s a percussion driven, soft rock song that has a really different sound, but front and centre is Stauch’s drumming, which has been fantastic throughout the album but really comes into its own on this track.
‘Torture King‘ has a playfulness to the tune that sees Mentalist having some fun and letting their hair down in the way Queen famously did. ‘Battle Dressed‘ is a 7 minute opus that builds slowly with a tune that increases the complexity and pace as it goes through the first 90 seconds as an instrumental. When Lundgren does come in he restrains his vocals in a way that perfectly suits the music. It’s another song that you can’t imagine coming from another band.
‘Live Forever‘, an 8 minute epic sees Lundgren duetting with Henning Basse and their voices blend together perfectly. They start off quite softly but as the song gets louder they encourage each other to greater heights, and it is utterly exhilarating to hear. A male duet is quite unusual but these two pull it off perfectly and the quality of both singers makes this my favourite song on the album. The final track ‘Manchild‘ starts off with an intro that once again makes the most of Thomen Stauch’s drumming. He really is one of the best rock drummers I’ve heard in years and is the beating heart of many of the songs. The song reminded me of 70s rock legends Sweet with Lundgren channelling Brian Connolly. It’s a great finish to a great album.
Mentalist are a group who clearly have great rapport as musicians and this second album gives them the chance to do this with a collection of high quality tracks that include a couple of stone cold classics!