Conception is adept at putting together music that is powerful without being overwhelming. Parallel Minds offers moving progressive rock that is constructed in twists and sweeps rather than in massive barrages of sound. Leaving breathing room in their music gives Conception the ability to fill out Parallel Minds with a plethora of dynamics and tones, resulting in a range of unique songs.
There is a spaciousness to Conception's music that is missing from many other progressive-metal bands, such as the heavier Dream Theater and even vocalist Khan's later band, Kamelot. The instruments, all played exceptionally and given equal weight across the album, are woven together, sometimes as wisps of sound and sometimes as chunkier riffs, to form each original song. The combination provides a wholeness that each instrument alone cannot offer but which somehow works in assembling entire songs.
The band members' versatility is key to creating the unique blend of music. Østby's guitar work, although leaning mostly toward heavier, choppy riffs, rotates to a rifling acoustic on "Silent Crying" and light strumming and somewhat bluesy riffs for parts of "Soliloquy." The drums form the backbone of most songs, including the march-inspired rhythm and drawn out chorus beat on "Silver Shine," and the bass fills in the low end and helps keep the pace. The keyboards are used thoughtfully and with purpose, often to punch up the chorus or to smooth out an interlude, rather than being a throw away droning in the background of every song. And Khan has a vocal range that allows him to move with the music. He reaches highs reminiscent of John Arch, former Fates Warning vocalist, in "The Promise" and visits lower, growling tones in "My Decision," hitting points between across the entire album and even in single songs.
The songs have a great way of building, such as with "Roll the Fire." The music starts with a staggered guitar and drum beat accompanied by cymbals, which then fills out with a steadier beat and driving guitar and keyboards. "My Decision" has a gradual fade-in before the instruments really merge and kick into a solid direction. And the music rises and falls throughout, ebbing into lighter bridges, building up and cascading back down like the mixture of ballad and metal in "Soliloquy," or swapping between slower and speedier tempos as in "Parallel Minds."
Overall, the music is not as fluid as some of Conception's other work, especially the masterful Flow, and the guitar shows less variety with the majority of heavy, stuttered chops spacing the otherwise original melodies and solos. But each song is a unique creation, a balanced blend of thoughtful songwriting and great execution. The breathing space in the music allows for the enjoyment of all the wielded instruments, letting each play a role in constructing the graceful web of music on Parallel Minds.
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