Reasons Behind – Project M.I.S.T (2020)

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I really enjoy listening to music outside my normal musical diet. When Reasons Behind’s “Project: M.I.S.T.” was offered up, I was more than happy to dive into the work of these folks from Bologna, Italy.

Their release notes said:

“Over the course of the career, Reasons Behind definitely evolved from a symphonic metal band with electronic influences into a more synth-oriented sounding outfit.

On their sophomore record the final result is simply outstanding: the crystal-clear, powerful voice of Elisa Bonafè dances between catchy and enthralling melodies (conceived by the band leader, songwriter and guitarist Gabriele Sapori), combined with both modern Swedish Metal and Metalcore riffing and immersed in Trance/Dubstep/Eurodance atmospheres.

‘Project: M.I.S.T.’ is a concept album about life and reality, enriched by lyrics that depict all the facets of human existence: a modern metal sci-fi rollercoaster that will take the listener through a breathtaking journey weaved from a stream of images and tunes.”

Swedish Metal, metalcore, trance, dubstep, Eurodance? That seemed to be an odd sort of compilation!

I looked down the track listing and it immediately piqued my interest – this seemed to be a series of tales that would add up to an epic undertaking. I am no stranger to this type of offering, so waded into the 11 tracks with a good deal of anticipation, keen to see what the next 35 minutes or so would hold.

“Unplugged” connected me with the electro nature of this music. It had elements of electric water droplets, feedback and tinkling. It was machine-like and had me thinking of the Tron movies. This short track was instrumental, utilising a slow aggregation of sound. It hooked me, as it was not what I was expecting.

“Fireflies in the Wind” lit up with a synth-heavy sound, joined quickly by percussion and guitars that were simple, yet effective. The vocals were higher pitched that I was expecting and were clear and engaging. I was soon struck by the clever use of harmonies. A great guitar solo was used to add to the story.

“A Hidden Thread” displayed a shift in focus, with the vocals taking a back seat. The sound was similar to the last track, with enough difference to not be repetitious. The layering of guitars was impressive and a very effective tempo shift stripped back most of the instruments, leaving the vocals to shine through. Occasional laser blasting occasionally peppered the sound and another tempo shift was used late in the track to build urgency.

“Shades of Neon” lit up with another shift in keyboards, with everything else wading in promptly. The percussion was frantic and the track soon became intense. One particular lyric caught my attention  – “Playing hide and seek with sanity”. A spoken aspect added some variation to the album’s track template.

Ghostwrited” wafted in with some attention-grabbing use of left-right balance. The vocals in this track ramped up a bit and a fabulous guitar solo was used. Not every track had a guitar solo and I appreciated this – the solo was used where enriched the track, not just used in every one as a default setting.

“Beyond the Black” stripped things back a good bit, with the keyboards being far less obvious. Vocals and vocal harmonies were used to great effect and some clever syncopated sections enriched this track and the flow of the album.

“Living a Lie” was truthful in the way that it reverted to a complex arrangement. The guitars came in quickly and the fast-paced nature enriched its theme of introspection. A great guitar solo and interplay with keyboards appeared late in the track.

“Binary Stars” dawned with the guitars ramping up significantly. The keyboards were less obvious and there were some impressive vocal gymnastics in the upper register. An interplay between the percussion and the keyboards morphed into a clever guitar solo.

“Between Here and Awake” woke with short samples of previous tracks in the background, overlaid by ominous sounding synths. It was dreamlike and an interesting auditory palate cleanser, lasting a touch over a minute.

“E(met)” opened with a different flavour, with synths, spoken words and an attention grabbing bass throb. The sound built around this start, before the track returned to the established template. The vocals were a bit less urgent, which I appreciated as a point of difference.

“No Dawn to Come” dawned more slowly, with a slower and muscular guitar riff and the keyboards being less obvious. This was a simpler, tougher sound and I really enjoyed it. This track was reflective in nature, looking back on the struggle undergone in previous tracks, contrasting with the heartbreak of no dawn to come. An atmospheric guitar solo was used to great effect. This track was a great example of how less can be more. A synthesised heartbeat was used at the end, before it flatlined into oblivion.

This album did indeed have a sci-fi and cyberpunk flavour. It told a broad and deep tale in an effective and engaging manner.

The template of each track can be summarised as: intricate and complex keyboard to open; guitars and synths wade in; urgent, higher pitched vocals kicks off; that sound held throughout the track, peppered by occasional tempo shifts and some tasty guitar solos. Each track had a logical progression.

I found myself waiting for some vocal versatile and diversity. It came, but not in the manner I expected, with some clever harmonies used and the upper register pushed a little to enhance this spice.

I enjoyed listening to this album, with its style and method conveying the intricacies of the human condition. It did indeed work, but I found myself wishing for some starker points of difference.

7/10

Greg Noble.

 

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