Mindcage: Our Own Devices review

If Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were to collaborate on a concept album, Our Own Devices by Florida’s Mindcage on Aetherwax/Kinematic Music would be the resulting soundtrack. Although the band have been around since 1996, believe it or not, Our Own Devices is the band’s first full length album. While it may have been over 15 years in the making, this stunning debut was well worth the wait. Our Own Devices is a concept album that merges the fictional concepts of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne with melodic old school metal. It is meant to serve as part 1 of what will be a trilogy and the album introduces us to Arabella Vash, who is brought to life by the intoxicating voice of Hydrogyn’s Julie Westlake- a woman who uses the power of her dreams to change the world around her. The album was originally released in September of 2013 and was produced by the band and engineered by the incomparable Michael Wagner who will reprise his role when the band enters his Wireworld Studios, to release a special edition of the album with bonus material later this summer. With Jeff Hignite’s vocals oscillating somewhere between the lush pipes of Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Jimmy Brown of Deliverance, virtuosic solos that whiz by your ear like a ricocheting bullet and song structures that mimic vintage Queensryche, Fates Warning or Iron Maiden. Tracks like “For Al Mankind (The Dark Design)” and “The One Constant” are bound to enthrall 80’s progressive metal enthusiasts. By stark contrast, title track “Our Own Devices” has a strange analog warmth that, when combined with Jeff’s incandescent vocals, is a bold and ambitious take on a classic blueprint. While tracks like “Firefly” and “Arabella’s Arc,” are quite simply put, “Mesmerising masterpieces that elevate the whole affair to another level of excellence.” At the same time, the ambient intro of “The Human Race” is a misleading calm before the storm as the song erupts into a labyrinth of technical, progressive brilliance that showcases the powerhouse guest vocals of Julie Westlake in a duet for the ages that will surely stand the test of time. Closer “The Serenity Sequence” is so epic and grandiose that it had to be split into two towering parts. The first of which bears a striking resemblance to lead single and video “The Human Race” while the second half is an elongated musical passage, that is utterly absorbing. Here’s the bottom line- If you like bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, Deliverance, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept or Rush, then Our Own Devices is essential listening. Rating: 9 out of 10. -Eric Hunker