Universal Mind Project | Jaguar Priest
Label : Inner Wound Recordings
Release Year: 2016
Genre: Progressive/Melodic/Power Metal
Elina Laivera – Vocals
Henrik Bath – [Darkwater] – Vocals
Michael Alexander – Guitars/Growls
Alex Landenburg – [Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Octayne 21] – Drums
Nils K Rue [Pagan’s Mind] – Vocals on “Bargain of Lost Souls”
Mark Jansen [Epica, Mayan] – Growls on “Anthem For Freedom”, “Truth” and “Dreamstate”
Charlie Dominici [ex. Dream Theater] – Vocals on “The Jaguar Priest”
Diego Valdez [Helker] – Vocals on “Awakened By The Light” and “Seven”
Alessandro Bissa [Vision Divine] – Drums on “Dreamstate”, “Anthem For Freedom”, “Awakened
By The Light”, “Bargain Of Lost Souls” and “Truth”
Mike LePond [Symphony X] – Bass on “Truth” and “The Force Of Our Creation”
Emanuele Casali [DGM] – Keyboards on all tracks
Johan Reinholz [Andromeda]- Guitar solo on “The Force Of Our Creation” 07:08-07:30
01. Anthem For Freedom
03. The Bargain Of Lost Souls
05. Awakened By The Light (Universal Mind)
06. A World That Burns
08. The Jaguar Priest
09. The Force Of Our Creation
Ever since I heard about the Universal Mind Project back in 2013 my anticipation has been nothing short than exiciting. The anticipation and wait were well worth it. The Universal Mind Project is very well appropriately named. The core of Elina Laivera , Michael Alexander , Henrik Bath and Alex Landenberg carefully selected the right talent as guest musicians on Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest. Considering the line up of vocalists as Nils K Rue [Pagan’s Mind] – Vocals on “Bargain of Lost Souls” , Mark Jansen [Epica, Mayan] – Growls on “Anthem For Freedom”, “Truth” and “Dreamstate” , Charlie Dominici [ex. Dream Theater] – Vocals on “The Jaguar Priest” , Diego Valdez a [Helker] – Vocals on “Awakened By The Light” and “Seven”and on the instrumentalists side, Alessandro Bissa [Vision Divine] – Drums on “Dreamstate”, “Anthem For Freedom”, “Awakened By The Light”, “Bargain Of Lost Souls” and “Truth” , Mike LePond [Symphony X] – Bass on “Truth” and “The Force Of Our Creation” , Emanuele Casali [DGM] – Keyboards on all tracks , Johan Reinholz [Andromeda]- Guitar solo on “The Force Of Our Creation” 07:08-07:30. It makes for the perfect tools for the canvas of such masterpiece.
On Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest, Elina Laivera has clearly established herself as a force to be reckoned with as a vocalist, songwriter and lyricist. It is also good to see Elina Laivera find a home and outlet for her genius and talent. Her partner in crime in the songwriting department Michael Alexander has definitely set himself up as well to be a force in progressive metal or metal music in general. What I appreciate the most about the writing team of Laivera/Alexander is their uncanny genius and ability to write towards the strengths of their guest vocalists.
They write towards the strengths of the guest musicians so much that it is as if the guest vocalists and instrumentalists are playing totally on point in their own element as if they are performing with their primary bands or outfits. That was something that really impressed me as I was listening to this. Elina Laivera and Michael Alexander tailored every passage and progression where the guests players could be distinguished. They appear to have a intricate knowledge of talent and just how to display it perfectly on the canvas that is The Jaguar Priest.
In the tracks Anthem For Freedom, Truth and Dreamstate the listener can clearly distinguish Mark Jansen’s legendary growls that he has used in After Forever, Epica and Maya. Even throughout Anthem For Freedom and the rest of the album Emanuele Casali [DGM] – Keyboards’ . The instrumental portion is stellar and matches the talent perfectly. On Bargain Of Lost Souls, Nils. K Rue of Pagans Mind really turns it loose. I almost feel for a brief second I am listening to Pagans Mind however I am not. That is another testament of the great songwriting that carefully went into consideration on this album.
On the title track The Jaguar Priest I have a appreciation of the writing democracy they band had allowing Charlie Dominci to write the lyrics . Without giving too much away Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest is thematic concept. Every song represents a story that all 10 tracks tie into a common story. Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest is one of the finest and well written albums of artistic expression since I first heard Ayreon’s Into The Electric Castle in 1998 or even Explorers Club 1 & 2. It has the appeal of a rock/metal opera yet with so much more conviction. This album will be a album talked about for many decades to come. I declined to do a track by track analysis on his album because it needs to have the listener’s entire attention without preconceived scrutiny.
The hooks and melodies and harmonies are world class and some of the very best in the world. I hope they consider a follow up to The Jaguar Priest. I also believe The Jaguar Priest is part of the further posterity and life of progressive metal and metal in general.In a year where we have lost so many Icons of rock already, I believe Universal Mind Project’s The Jaguar Priest and all its participants are poised to carry the torches into the future left by those Icons. This album gets a 5/5 and is potential Album Of The Year 2016 material. Some of the best progressive metal I have heard in 30 years.