In the Netherlands we have a cartoon series called "Suske & Wiske" (in French they're called "Bob & Bobette", in English "Spike & Suzy"). Why do I bestow on you this apparently useless information, I hear you ask? Well, this cartoon series features a character called Professor Barabas. One of his many inventions is the "Teletijdmachine", a device with which it is possible to travel through time.

(Yes, I could have come up with H.G. Wells here, obviously, but that would have been far less colourful, don't you agree?)

When listening to Mesmerize's "Off the Beaten Track" I had the distinct feeling that somehow I'd been whisked into the professor's machine and mysteriously teleported to somewhere in the mid eighties. Especially the vocals seem to come straight out of a spandex-clad curly-haired youth such as those who fronted happy metal bands throughout that illustrious decade. Mesmerize quote 80's heavy metal as one of their chief influences, however they don't take it much further than the originals. Today's production possibilities could have made the album sound much heavier, but all it does is sound rather thin.

Is "Off the Beaten Path" (a rather inappropriate name, come to think of it) a total loss then? No. The musicians really do know how to play their instruments, whereas vocalist Folco Orlandini manages to stay far away from the cringing realm of off-key singers. Some of the breaks and intros are quite good, listen to "Warriors (When the Battle Calls)" for example. But in the general it's a 120 bpm lightweight barrage of heavy metal riffs that sound somehow too familiar to be original.



Written April 2002


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