Review: Mentalist – Empires Falling
Pride & Joy Music (September 16th, 2022)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Mentalist, a German Melodic Metal band, consist of singer Rob Lundgren, guitarists Peter Moog and Kai Stringer and drummer Thomen Stauch. For this album they have been joined by Oliver Palotai on keyboards and Mike LePond on bass. They had a significant audience for their 2021 release ‘Journey Into The Unknown‘, which included reaching Number 2 on the iTunes metal chart and having the best Power Metal release of the year according to the Facebook group Power Metal. I reviewed ‘Journey Into The Unknown‘, so I was eager to hear their follow-up ‘Empires Falling‘.
‘Solution Revolution‘ is the first track and it begins with a very unusual, almost discordant guitar riff that immediately engages the listener because it is so unexpected. Then Rob Lundgren storms in with his brilliant rock vocals, that go toe to toe with anyone in metal, backed up with Moog and Stringer’s Maidenesque guitars and the thumping drums of Stauch. It is a really good start to the album and really whets the appetite for more. ‘Stairs of Ragusa‘ starts with an 80s style guitar and moves into a song reminiscent of Swedish greats Europe. It is a track that sounds good played loud and could become a live favourite with the guitar solo in the middle. ‘Tears Within A Paradise‘ has a very intricate opening that had me instantly pricking my ears up as the guitars and drums set up a really enjoyable track. Lundgren once again shows off the quality of his vocal chords and it is yet another excellent track to start what is already a really good album. The title track ‘Empires Falling‘ is appropriately epic with a bravura vocal performance that is carried along by a multi-faceted tune which borrows from various genres and eras of rock and metal. Though you hear the influences throughout this is never a derivative track. Mentalist imbue the elements with a freshness that makes the track soar.
‘If You Really Want‘ starts the middle part of the album with a Quo style riff that opens out into a heavy rock anthem which explodes from the speakers. If I’m not mistaken, this could be another track that will become a live favourite. ‘Columbus‘ has a gentle opening before developing the sound into a very interesting combination of 80s AOR and NWOBHM that wouldn’t work in less skilful hands. Needless to say, Mentalist pull it off with aplomb. ‘Noah’s Ark‘ is not a track title I would have expected to see on a metal album! What it is, is a very funny retelling of the flood myth which starts with an email from God. It’s funny, irreverent and played completely straight which just adds to the humour. I loved it and was grinning throughout. ‘Generation’s Legacy‘ is the history of mankind in 5 minutes, taking in its progress from living in caves to blasting off in rockets. No one could accuse Mentalist of any lack of ambition!
Heavy Metal Leia is a no-nonsense rocker to start the final third of the album. It’s well played, well sung and doesn’t hold back at any point. ‘Out of the Dark‘ is a 7-minute epic that builds very effectively throughout. The opening has unmistakable elements of countrymen The Scorpions in the structure, instrumentation and vocals. It then moves into the type of area that Iron Maiden inhabit, making the switch seamlessly. It is a superb track that definitely has my vote as the best on the album. ‘Years of Slavery‘ is another epic track that reflects on the trade in human beings. It is an awesome piece of music with an important message, and it makes an excellent one-two combination with the previous track. In these two masterpieces, you can hear Mentalist at their absolute best. ‘Forbidden Fruits‘, the first of two bonus tracks, keeps up the standard of this part of the album with ease. Though less epic than the previous two tracks, it is a superb rock ballad that I enjoyed from first note to last. The final bonus track is ‘Bumblebee‘ is a much shorter song, checking in at less than three minutes. Interestingly, I heard echoes of a couple of album tracks from ‘Regatta de Blanc’ by The Police especially in Stauch’s drumming and LePond’s bass. Messrs Copeland and Sting in particular would enjoy this track.
Mentalist are a band who are getting better and better, and ‘Empires Falling‘ shows a real maturity to the lyrics, instruments and singing that should see the album being acclaimed by fans of metal, but more importantly those who love any kind of music. This is an empire that, far from falling, is ready to expand its borders beyond its homeland.