Album Review: Colors In Mind, The Observer

Colors In Mind
The Observer

It kicks off with a beautiful, intricate, and curious bass line. It’s floating and driving simultaneously; the type of lick that really could take a piece of music anywhere. For Colors In Mind, a prog and alternative-rock inspired band from Cincinnati, Ohio, it’s an excellent way to introduce themselves on their debut album, The Observer. Blending mysterious ambience with mosh-worthy heaviness, the album keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next from start to finish.

Most contemporary “prog-metal” artists probably hate to admit this, but the genre is becoming rapidly oversaturated, and full of its own litany of clichés. Colors in Mind defy these trends, creating their own unique style of experimental, heavy music. You can definitely hear prog influences throughout, but those influences are in no way restricted to a fixed place in the genre’s lengthy timeline. They are seemingly as influenced by younger bands like Tesseract as they are by Tool, or even O.G.’s like King Crimson. Colors In Mind’s style offers more than just a demonstrable love for the genre; it offers true artistic integrity to listeners. It gives the band the credibility and flexibility to make whatever creative decisions they deem fit as they produce what will hopefully be a long-lifespan of follow-up records.

Perhaps this stems from the fact that longevity is already one of the band’s stronger attributes. The group formed as a three-piece in 2013, with guitarist and lead-vocalist Kelvin Mojica, bassist and backup vocalist Aaron Hutzel, and drummer Andrew Bryant. Within roughly a year’s time after this formation, they produced their debut EP, Solipsism, picked up their missing ingredient and second guitarist, Jamie Zickefoose, and began the meticulous process of writing songs for The Observer. In fact, the album’s first full-track “Heliocentrism,” an epic, nine-minute alternative-rock opus, was the first song the band completed in its modern form.

The band took their time over the next three years, balancing a healthy regiment of live shows, while pushing their creative and technical boundaries as far as they could go. What’s most impressive about this accomplishment is how non-linearly constructed their songs are and yet how cohesive the album is as a whole. In other words, if you’re looking for a typical verse-chorus, sing-along radio album, look elsewhere. However, even with all of the album’s sonic diversity, at no point will you hear something that feels like it was forced to fit into a song. That’s a common weakness among bands that write songs that breach the nine-minute mark; you can tell when a band is just lazily pasting non-sequitur riffs from some GarageBand storage library together, until it arbitrarily feels like it’s time to move onto the next one. That’s not the case with Colors In Mind. Each melody and each riff feels purposeful, inspired, and critical to the momentum of the album.

It’s difficult to acknowledge individual, noteworthy songs on albums like this. Really, the album itself could almost be viewed as one long song due to its thoughtful and strategic composition. With that in mind, definitely make sure to give a hearty listen to “Anima Mundi (Trinity).” It’s a nightmarish, dissonant piece, with bizarre spoken-word lyrics, and a disgustingly heavy finale. Additionally, the proceeding track “Yugen Peaks” is a melodic and emotionally driven track you won’t want to miss. It’s reminiscent of post-hardcore groups like Poison The Well and Thrice, and features some of Mojica’s most aggressive, yet inspired vocal performances.

When asked what was next for the group, Mojica humbly acknowledged the band’s goals to play more live shows, get the album heard by as many people as possible, and continue to push themselves artistically and creatively. According to Mojica, “I just hope that someone out there gets as excited about this music as we do.”

At least as far as this writer is concerned, mission accomplished. The Observer was released independently October 20, 2017 and can be purchased on the Colors In Mind Bandcamp  https://colorsinmind.bandcamp.com/ or in physical form at their live shows. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/colorsinmindmusic/ for upcoming show information and for future developments.

By Andrew Humphrey

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