Telepath – Mental Mutations Review

Telepath - Mental Mutations 01Although there’s been the odd exception over the years, generally speaking, instrumental metal is not really my bag. Not that I’m incapable of appreciating the often experimental aspects, self-indulgent jams, and technically proficient textures and moods conveyed from purely instrumental forms of metal. But even when vocals can be an afterthought or weak link on certain albums and genres of metal, I still generally prefer the vocal counterpoint. Yet I possess an open mind and variety is the spice of life, so when Telepath’s Mental Mutations remained unclaimed in the promo portal, I jumped into the unknown with optimism of what may lie ahead. The mysterious Norwegian project is the brainchild of Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow, The Opium Cartel), a gifted multi-instrumentalist and chief composer.

Essentially an opportunity to flirt with his deep appreciation and passion for ’70s hard rock and prog, while incorporating a wide palette of sounds and genre cap tips, such as doom, psychedelia, synthpop and crunchy prog metal, Holm-Lupo has crafted quite a curious and peculiar album, one with impressive character and colorful sounds to compliment the impressive attributes of the varied musicianship. Influences stretch back into the hazy realm of ’70s inspired rock, psych and prog, however Mental Mutations also possesses a loose cinematic feel and ’80s adventure film soundtrack vibe that evokes a sense of nostalgia, adding an endearing component to the album.

Mental Mutations boasts a sound that spans several decades, yet is imbued with enough modern embellishments to offset the retro tone. Endless waves of synths, psychedelic and prog infused guitar freakouts, atmospheric detours, and tastefully programmed drums coalesce in busy fashion. “Mourner’s Hill” is a somber, dramatic, and somewhat disjointed opener that segues into the driving rhythms and impressively epic progressive metal of “To the Grave.” Breaking up the dominant instrumental facets of the album, the lengthy “No More Wishes” features some dark yet dreamy female vocals, adding off-kilter charm to the slow-building, druggy soundscapes and eventual jammy climax of the song. Elsewhere, “Race into the Wasteland” is a well constructed amalgam of eerie mood, atmosphere, groove and ripping guitar work, though the interesting but clunky industrial edge of “Bad Machine” and foreboding vibes and meandering structure of “The Dark Blood of Fate” don’t quite get it right.

Telepath - Mental Mutations 02For every track or moment that sticks out, there are less engaging songs and structures that don’t always deliver the knockout blow or pay-off expected. Unfortunately the more meandering and less developed writing creates an inconsistent listen, which sets the mind wandering off course a little too often, despite Holm-Lupo’s considerable talents and energetic delivery. Telepath’s relatively scant online presence made it difficult to ascertain specific album credits, but by all accounts, and from perusing an interview with the man of the moment, Holm-Lupo handled all instruments and production duties, doing a fine job utilizing his various tools to create an ambitious instrumental wonderland of crunchy instrumental metal and retro prog.

At the end of the day, for all its flaws and overreaching ambition, Mental Mutations is a pleasant surprise and detour from my usual listening fare and has the potential to wrangle in instrumental rock and metal fans alike. While my time spent with Mental Mutations has been enjoyable, there’s doubts over how often I’ll be compelled to revisit the album. And for all its cool vibes and occasional ear catching moments, overall the songwriting doesn’t possess the hooks or enough truly engaging elements to keep me gripped and captivated by its strange charms.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Apollon Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 18th, 2019

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