Mind Key MKIII - Aliens In Wonderland album cover

Mind Key was formed in Napoli some twenty years ago by in 1999 by Dario De Cicco (keyboards) and Emanuele Colella (guitars) who wanted to create a band that brought together Dream Theater, Symphony X, Evergrey, and Pain of Salvation with short direct hard rock numbers. They release their debut in 2004, played gigs with the likes of Dream Theater, Vision Divine, and Pendragon, before releasing their second album “Pulse for a Graveheart” in 2009. This saw them with a new singer, Aurelio Fierro, and they again toured with the likes of Edguy, Vanden Plas, Europe, and Hammerfall, but the band then went on an extended break.

Now they are back, bolstered by a new rhythm section of bassist Lucio Grilli (ex-Soul Secret) and drummer Mirko De Maio (The Flower Kings, Hangarvain), and one has to wonder why they have been away for so long as this is high octane from the start and never lets up. I can certainly see where the guys get their inspiration from, but I am a little surprised not to find classic Stratovarius in the list, as well as that style, is all over this. Prog Metal, melodic metal, call it what you will, this is class from start to finish. Aurelio Fierro has a great voice, with an edge that gives it additional breadth and quality, combined with a great range. Add that to a rhythm section who are never going to just sit back and play gently but instead are driving and adding to the melody, and a keyboard player and guitarist who are locked together swapping leads and one is transported.

Thankfully the production is up to the task, and the result is an album that fans of bands such as Alcatrazz will also enjoy, with Colella proving he can shred like Malmsteen when the need arises. For fans of great rock music, let’s hope we don’t have to wait nearly as long for the next one.

8/10 Kev Rowland