PARALLEL MINDS – Every Hour Wounds…The Last One Kills

PARALLEL MINDS – Every Hour Wounds…The Last One Kills

Rarely is progressive metal truly original. Most of the time, bands emulate Dream Theater’s first three albums or Queensryche’s first five with classic Iron Maiden thrown in while abusing the technical fretboard beyond rhyme or reason. It is the exceptions to this pattern, such as the French ensemble, Parallel Minds, which truly show progressive metal’s beauty and charm. The French do take some hints from the aforementioned but they carve their own unique niche emphasizing structure and hooks over technicality, although they have the chops to emphasize both.

Listening to "Every Hour Wounds…The Last One Kills", the 2nd full length since the 2013 inception, it’s hard to believe the rhythm and lead work is of just one guitarist, Grégory Giraudo, whose skills are best exemplified in "The 52Hz Whale" with a solo technically and structurally similar to Marty Friedman’s in Megadeth’s "Tornado Of Souls". Indeed, whether Parallel Minds is bassy and aggresive, or melodic and harmonious, they recall 90s Megadeth first (Amerinds, The 52Hz Whale) and God Forbid with a Nevermore-ian tone second (I Am C), at times combined (The Last One Kills), Giraudo clearly heavily influenced by Dave Mustaine, but then again, who can say they aren’t? This influence takes nothing from their originality, why, it enhances it and drives its purpose. Thanks to Giraudo, the material is varied, meticulously structured and tracks are positioned as proverbial peaks and valleys which now maintain the momentum now tastefully deviate from it. True to some of the metal’s classic albums, Parallel Minds sandwich two powerful ballads (Syria, The 52Hz Whale) in between more aggressive material. My personal favorite may be the perfect closer "Kolyma", a Revocation thrash riffing meets Trivium-ish melodic bridge and double chorus, but the "Beyond" Omnium Gatherum-ish "On Your Own" enchants with progressive melodic goodness worthy of the worn influence. There’s no doubt that Grégory Giraudo is highly effective instrumentally and as a songwriter.

The second pillar of the French ensemble is vocalist Stéphane Fradet, whose cleans mostly resemble Byron Davis (God Forbid) when he does not approach Bruce Dickinson, as on the ballad "Syria" or the cover of Savatage’s "Tonight He Grins Again". There’s no way to know for sure but since he is one of the founders, Fradet most likely shares songwriting credits with Giraudo. In any case, his vocals are a perfect match for the many ebbs and flows found on the album, be it acoustic and progressive melodicism (On Your Own, The 52Hz Whale), aggressive thrash (The Last One Kills, Kolyma) or Lamb Of God-ian/Panteric groove (How). Together with Antoine Kerbrat’s interesting and audible bass lines, fundamental to any progressive effort, as well as Eric Manella’s excellent versatile drumming, the four men ensemble create a unique and engaging progressive/groove metal experience enhanced by fantastic production and meaningful/spiritual and environmentally conscious lyrics.

What’s not to like about this excellent album? Some of the songs, such "How" could have been more ambitious and more complex, while others, such as "Syria" less convoluted, as, in fact, the 2 minute shorter edit of the same at the end of the record, since more concise, is more convincing than the unedited original version. There are moments where the aggressive riffery transitions into a near metalcore-ic verses in a manner similar to Killswitch Engage or All That Remains, and, while all the elements are great, the songs could have benefited from a little more piano-forte balance.

I thought long and hard and decided that even though songwriting is about 4.7, the originality, the excellent execution and production easily merits elevating the overall score to 5/6. Despite a few inconsistensies in songwriting and failure to excercise editory skills in some cases, "Every Hour Wounds…The Last One Kills" is an exceptionally excellent progressive metal album well worth your ears and cash.