Reasons Behind - Project M.I.S.T.
Scarlet Records
Symphonic Power Metal
11 songs (35' 57")
Release year: 2020
Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Andy

One of the joys of listening to an Italian symphonic power metal band is its unpredictability, especially when it comes from Scarlet Records. It could be an bomb, it could be pure genius, it could be something that no one's ever thought of before. This time I got more of the first category. Reasons Behind's millenial-pop-dominated Project: M.I.S.T. sounds as though it might be interesting at first, but quickly becomes boring and saccharine, which is the more inexplicable given that its predecessor is so much higher-quality.

Part of this perhaps is the bright production, as if a pop producer tried to make a metal album. So much sounds electronic that it sort of surprised me that they're a full band; Amaranthe is easily called to mind, but Reasons Behind can write better melodies, and there's no male singer to balance out the vocal duets. Thankfully, that also means there are no corny death metal vocal breaks to make this sugary confection more "extreme"; let's face it, if you're listening to this in the first place, your cvlt badge has already been surrendered to the authorities, and you're never getting it back. Anyway, by the third track or so, it becomes clear that the guitars are mostly just for show; they're turned way up, but they chug away at the front of the mix to the mid-tempo beats without any real riffs and almost no solos. And the keyboard work is mostly decorative, the sort of high synth piping that a black metal project would put over the guitars to add some atmosphere. So what's making the actual music?

That job falls almost solely to Elisa Bonafe, whose duets with two or three tracks of herself are the only standout feature of the album. She can certainly sing, reminding me of Frozen Crown's Giada Etro, but she's curiously constricted on this album. Her slightly-accented vocals are sharp-edged and thin, always running over the same high notes with a dollop of autotune, singing standard prog-lyric "journey through my inner psyche" balderdash. Any time a lower note leaves her lips, it's for a brief spoken-word bit along the same lines before she goes back up into the stratosphere. But the harmonies, in which she slips in and out of her doubles' sung sections, are as tight as they were on The Alpha Memory, and their addictive melodic sweetness is the ultimate reward the listener gets for listening to nine tracks of otherwise similar-sounding pop metal (not counting interludes, one of which is just recycled passages from other tracks drifting in and out of ambient noises). It's also what saves the album from a worse rating.

Speaking of The Alpha Memory, it's impossible to review Project M.I.S.T. without mentioning how much better their debut was. I'll have to review it soon -- you can listen to it on Bandcamp -- but suffice it to say that anyone who heard The Alpha Memory before is likely left wondering what cataclysm happened to transmute the talent contained in that album into the phoned-in dullness of its successor. Reasons Behind created that rarity, an ambitious but well-made concept album debut, so why did they abandon its sound for the comparative lifelessness of this one? The answer is elusive.

Killing Songs :
Living a Lie is probably the best of the lot
Andy quoted 75 / 100
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