ALBUM REVIEW: Mind Control - Elements

ALBUM REVIEW: Mind Control - Elements

*Elements will be released December 1st, 2023 on Revalve Records*

Italy's Mind Control have taken their time to create a heavy as hell comeback record after a nine-year hiatus with the release of their new album Elements. With the addition of new bassist Stefano Tatasciore, these prog-deathers have made a record that is definitely on the heavier side. Has the wait been worth it? Did they deliver on a record that would make the fanbase happy after an almost ten year wait? Yes.......yes they did.

The album opens with the album's title track. With an almost industrial, drum machine like pattern and sound to it, accented with plinking keys and an ethereal sounding choir, the song sets a somber build until the halfway mark. Then the tremolo and chugging guitars by Massimo Boffa and the double bass drumming of Luca Nicolucci break the tension and add build for the remainder of the song. A devious bait-and-switch, that eased the listener in before pulling the rug from them and having them in their palm of their hand for the rest of the album.

The albums first song is the chugging and Gothenburg melodic death metal sound of "Rage". I love the grit and intensity in the vocals of Stefania Salladini, very reminiscent of the Angela Gossow-era of Arch Enemy. The tease of her sultry clean vocals before reverting back to the amazing growls hit so good. The band is just going full speed in the playing, the bass of Tatasciore adds a nice, thumping bass amidst the blast beats and chugs of Boffa. I can picture the pit going crazy for this song, intensifying during the breakdown section at the halfway mark of the track. Boffa does a nice, sweeping and frenetic guitar solo before the band rejoins him. STRONG opening track and shows the band is back and coming for vengeance with this opener.

Drums kick off the intensity on "Flames", the grittiness of the guitar is so rough and distorted in its tone and I love the sound of it. The clean vocals on the verses has a gothic metal-tinge to it. The piano notes peaking through during the growls adds unique dynamics to the song. The band's progressive elements begin to show on the track with some tempo changes and genre hopping portions. With the song having elements of gothic metal, hardcore and death metal, and we're not even halfway through the song yet?! The clean vocals on the chorus pierce through the mix, showing a more somber and emotional side, coinciding with the growls of the chorus. The song is just an intense track, channeling the anger and hostility at certain moments that is just so demanding, intermixed with Salladini's angelic and tranquil clean vocals, ending with a returning and ominous choir section.

"Effluent" has more of a djent sounding guitar section in the beginning. The song has a unique groove to the track thanks to the band gelling together to create an almost catchiness to the rhythm of the track going into the chorus. The chugging riff of the track is an instant headbanger as it heads back into the second verse. Salladini's unique vocal performance of cleans and growls is done very well on the track. Showing deep gutturals, hardcore-esque growls, and choir-like cleans. The band continues the progressive elements in the time signature and tempo change in this eight minute sonic journey of a track. The halfway mark features a great chugging djent-like breakdown that would make any Meshuggah or Animals as Leaders fan happy, before the pace drastically slows down to a beautiful bass and clean guitar section with accenting drums. The elements and instrumentation is so well done on the track with the song just playing with the listener's expectations and constantly keep them guessing.

On "Wind" we get atmospheric tremolo guitars in the background, giving off a post-black metal intro the likes of Alcest, before guitars and thundering bass strikes kick the door in and we are off to just pure aggressive and gritty death metal. Salladini's vocals pierce through with her growls, especially layered with her cleans with Tatasciore's bass peaking behind her vocals.  A great guitar solo again by Boffa, with nice piano and synth pads behind him before segueing into a chuggy and slowed down tempo while Boffa stands tall amongst the slow and down-tuned playing off the band during the breakdown. The three quarters mark shows Boffa shred to his heart's content, while the band brings the chugging, djent-like riff as he just hops all over the fretboard with his musicianship as the song comes to a close.

"Storm" opens with ringing guitars, reverbed drums and effects hanging in the mix, almost giving the listener a reprieve from the heaviness and complexity of the record so far. Boffa channels his inner guitar god on the track, shredding over a classic 80's style guitar tone reminiscent of Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. That reprieve comes to a crashing halt at the halfway mark, when the band hits the distortion hard and we get heavy. Salladini's vocals sound more in the sludge metal vein, at some points sounding like Kirk Windstein of Crowbar, in its guttural and grit in the performance, and it works for the track. She is such a unique and diverse vocalist in her sound and can be one of those wild cards that could go good with any genre or band she would play with. The song's heaviness slows back down before returning to the calming effect of the songs opener as its closer.

With "Air", the guitars come in a heavy down-tuned riff, accompanied with hammer on and pull off notes, created that classic melodic death metal sound bands like In Flames and Soilwork made popular.  The song is just heavy from the get-go, almost with no slow down or relief in the intensity of everyone in the band. The band loves the sound of a good chugging riff. The clean vocals, with the deep guttural layers, almost create a inner battle in the vocal performance, in an almost theatrical or dual vocalist style effect. I love the bass pops Tatasciore delivers in the second verse section, adding dimension and versatility to the song, while also not overshadowing the vocals or taking over the track. With a call-to-arms spoken part with a drum roll behind, the song builds into a chugging breakdown, mixed with cleans and growls, creating a vortex of so many elements in the mix, but not muddied or buried which is well done.

"Tempest" begins with a beautiful strings section, along with clean guitars and building drums behind it. With keyboards, pounding double bass, and a strong wailing lead guitar over chugging guitar and bass, it is a short but heavy instrumental interlude.

This leads into "Hurricane", a chugging and pounding track. Demanding guitars, heavy and booming in the bass tone. Definitely has that progressive/djent like tone in the style and guitar playing, before a drastic halting effect of clean guitars and clean vocals, before building drums bring up back up to a heavier, almost thrash like sound. With the faster guitar playing, more up-tempo drumming, the song begins to transition away from that into a more death metal/modern metal hybrid, similar to bands like Jinjer. A great dueling guitar solo section amongst the heavy, palm muted riffs with Nicolucci playing intricate but somehow simple sounding at the same time during it. The keyboard break before returning the riff gives a mini-build before the song brings it again one more time before the chorus one more time into a heavy closing breakdown.

"The River" is an almost haunting, gothic/power metal sounding intro with Salladini's cleans starting the track and showing her range. The band's playing is unique and showing off their musicianship in their playing, letting her cleans shine, before the heaviness comes back for the chorus. A slowed-down, technical song musically, with the unique drums, clean guitars and bass accenting the vocals, the song is a beautiful marriage of slowed down, ballad like songs infused with the modern metal sound that is popular today, particularly in the metalcore genre.

A eerie keyboard piece starts "Ether". Ringing guitars and a grimy lead guitar piece, into a building drum section brings us back up from the previous track into a more melodic death metal sounding track. The main riff is an instant headbanger and circle pit starter. The unease of the clean vocals adds a unique, anxious feeling to the listener as the chorus hits, before shocking the listener into a clean vocal chorus which is out of left field, but I love so much. The band's energy on the song is just unmatched as it seems like they are just unrelenting in their emotional playing, especially in Salladini's vocals, almost giving off that "leave it all on the stage" feeling in her performance. The song's heavy crescendo, ending with clean vocals over a palm muted and chugging guitar riff is a beautiful and dark ending to the track.

With "Maelstrom", the song opens with an almost nostalgic 80's thrash sounding riff you would hear off an early Megadeth album. The song is fast paced, with pounding double bass, into clean vocals with a thrashy and progressive sounding main riff with accenting leads behind it. The pre-chorus riff is so heavy and tough sounding. Vocals are so demanding and forceful in the mix, with an almost echo like effect, creating a call and response sound which I love on the track. The grit of the guitar tone is something I just love in this genre, and the fusion of it with death metal that this band does with their sound is perfectly done. Such a heavy track and a grab you by the collar feel to it, with the band almost demanding your attention through it.

The album's closer "Blame" features Simone Evangelista. Starting the track off with a booming and heavy guitar riff. The opening gutturals, along with the chugging riff of the song on the verse, creates a frenzy like effect that I can picture the crowd going insane for in the pit. The vocal duties from both vocalists is such a heavy mix, accompanied with the midtempo double bass and chugging down tuned riff of the song. The song is almost melodic death metal 101 in its performance. From the guitar fretboard moving, the chugging main riff, heavy double bass and a dual harmony growls of highs and lows, the song is a heavy track and a great way to close out the album from these Italian prog-deathers.

Overall, Mind Control have delivered a more straight forward progressive death metal record. Not as complex and genre hopping as the band's debut album in 2014's Heptagon, it is STILL a demanding and strong record, and I love the band's sound on this record. They are firing on all cylinders with this record, showing that they took their time with this record and really nailed down the sound they wanted to go through. Salladini's vocals are stronger than ever and she knows how to beautifully mix her clean and growls with the feel of the song, while Boffa shred and chugs so well on the guitar on this album. Along with the awesome rhythm section of Tatasciore and Nicolucci have strong performances and know when to intensify the song as well as hang back to let guitars or vocals shine. Mind Control is a band that is worth checking out, not only because they made a great album, but they are also trying to push the metal genre in new directions. Them, Dawn of Ouroboros and SARMAT are trying to reinvent and push the boundaries of metal and that is a great thing, inspiring countless other bands to see what this genre of music could and can be.

SCORE: 10 / 10


  1. Elements
  2. Rage
  3. Flames
  4. Effluent
  5. Wind
  6. Storm
  7. Air
  8. Tempest
  9. Hurricane
  10. The River
  11. Ether
  12. Maelstrom
  13. Blame (feat. Simone Evangelista)

FFO: Opeth, Dawn of Ouroboros, Jinjer

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