Universal Mind Project - The Jaguar Priest
Inner Wound Recordings
Melodic/Progressive Metal
10 songs (59:00)
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Joel
Surprise of the month
Universal Mind Project(UMP) is the creation of guitarist, Michael Alexander, and features Henrik Bath(Darkwater) and Elina Laivera on vocals, and Alex Landenburg(Luca Turilli's Rhapsody) with many guest vocalists and musicians. The first two songs give a somewhat Amaranthe vibe to them, with three vocal parts that feature the growls of Epica's Mark Jansen. If you only listened to Anthem For Freedom and the first single, Truth you would think the comparison is just. Dig deeper into the disc, and you'll find that none of that is true. Progressive, heavy, fast, slow and everything in between the tracks each stand out on their own, yet for a disc with several different vocalists it stays cohesive. While all of the songs are connected, each vocalist takes their “character” and add their own personalities to it. For instance the next track, Bargain of Lost Souls, features Nils K. Rue of Pagan's Mind taking the verses with Laivera infectious vocals mixed with growls this time from Alexander. I am huge fan of the synth(courtesy of DGM's Emanuele Casali) and guitar solo trade off during the song. Dreamstate follows the style of the first two songs, with Bath showing his range and unique vocal tones. Awakened By The Light features Diego Valdez(Helker), who have you not heard this Argentinian, you are definitely missing out. The closest thing to sounding like Dio without being a cover band singer. While he has the tone, the delivery, of the fallen great singer, he does have a style that is his own. Fans of earlier Dio albums owe themselves the chance to hear him sing.

Laivera's time to shine is on the ballad A World That Burns, and honestly I could listen to an entire cd of just her on vocals. Without being one bit operatic, she has the range, the emotion, and of course the vocal range and talent needed for such a delicate song like this. This is definitely a case when a ballad, is a highlight versus album filler. One of the my favorite more progressive songs is Seven, and this one stands out, with its melodic vocals and range, and the mix of riffs and grooves from the entire band. The vocal harmonies between Valdez(not sure if Bath is on this one too) and Laivera mixed with the melodic lead guitar work, definitely works to perfection on this song. Another extremely progressive song with some awesome synth work is the title track. The main vocals are courtesy of Dream Theater When Dreams and Unite's vocalists and solo artist, Charlie Dominici. While its hard not to compare him to the man who replaced him, I do think he has a unique voice, that can carry a song. While I have only listened to a few of his solo cds, I think he does an admirable job here. The Force Of Our Creation is the type of song(with A World That Burns and Seven) that I hope UMP writes for their follow up as its one of the best songs on the disc. Closer Xibalba is a faster song that closes out the disc at just under five minutes, and allows the main vocalists one last chance to shine .

Is The Jaguar Priest, a perfect cd? No! Is it bad? Not at all, it is one hell of a debut featuring a group of established musicians, and vocalists who know exactly what they are doing. Much respect to Michael Alexander for releasing something, that could be enjoyed by people who love different forms of metal music, and blending those styles ever so easily!

Killing Songs :
Truth, Awakened By The Light, A That World Burns, Seven, The Force Of Our Creation
Joel quoted 85 / 100
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