Reviewer: Ken Pierce
It’s been too long for fans of Mastermind, the Progressive Rock/Fusion outfit from New Jersey and now the wait is over with some new material and a couple of surprises that make up the EP release “Broken”. Holding at 8 songs this is an EP that does not disappoint existing fans and was a lot of fun to listen to for new fans such as myself. The lineup remains at 4 core members, and this will be first official recording for singer Tracy McShane and new bassist Laura Johnson (who completed the lineup about a year ago). Guitarist Bill Berends is on top of his game with this one and those who had wondered about the long wait will be pleasantly surprised at the result he was able to put together . The rhythm of drummer Rich Berends (Bill’s Brother) and Johnson is solid and lead singer Tracy McShane shines all over the recording. “Broken” begins a lot like “Tom Saywer” by Rush almost as if the band was offering props to the Progressive Rock giants. The track is hypnotic and is destined for heavy rotation if the right people are paying attention to the release. “Break Me Down” is more on the Gothic side and can stand along the likes of Lacuna Coil.
The remainder of the album is essentially the band treating you to some fun from their past and some of their favorite tracks from other artists. There are covers of a classical piece in “William Tell Overture” and you can literally feel the fun that the band is having with this energetic rendition right through your speakers. There is also a cover of A Perfect Circle’s “Weak & Powerless” and it was interesting to hear a strong female vocal to it. I think Maynard himself would be pleased with how it came out. “I’m So Glad” is a heavy rock/blues version of the Cream classic and given the bands recent reunited tours this holds strong to the times and to Masterminds own love of the Clapton, Bruce, Baker juggernaut. Listeners will be interested in knowing that several tracks were recorded live in the studio and they are indeed very strong in their presentation on the EP. “Million Miles Away” and “Queen Of Sheba” are just as Berends denotes in the insert, “this is how we would sound if we were playing in your living room”. Now that’s a rocking party if that was the case.
The CD is enjoyable and best played loud and is a recommendation for fans of classic Hard Rock and Progressive music. It also serves as a fine teaser for the bands forthcoming and at present independent release.