Overhead — Telepathic Minds
Overhead is yet another excellent band from Finland who have been together for over 20 years, yet their name has regrettably been somewhat ignored by the prog masses; you rarely hear any mention of them in musical circles. This is more than a crying shame but is somewhat understandable when you consider the fractured nature of a well populated musical market. There are so many more bands in existence today than there were in the 1970's when I was growing up as a kid. There are simply far too many bands to be able to weed through them all to find the ones that stand out the most.
Overhead features Alex Keskitalo (vocals, flute), Jaakko Kettunen (guitars), Ville Sjöblom (drums), Janne Katalkin (bass) and Jere Saarainen (keyboards).
Featuring a front cover of the booklet that is somewhat reminiscent of that by former 60s psychedelic pop band Love, with their Forever Changes album, the music contained herein bears little resemblance to that excellent record. The front cover of the album features a different graphic to the one gracing the front of the booklet but what an excellent job has been done with its creation. Although I have only been sent a digital copy of the album for review, the accompanying JPEG clips of the booklet / covers are simply stunning and are a real credit to its creator, Alex Keskitalo.
This latest offering is yet another pertinent example of how much good music often falls under the radar for many of us. Although I have many of their earlier albums, I need to persevere with them all in order to discover the qualities that each possesses. That is only possible after repeated listens over an extended period of time, which many of us find in short supply.
What I am finding after about five spins of this rather clever album, is one that is dripping with really well written and played tracks that engage the listener right from the start.
War To End All Wars begins with a very anthemic opening along the lines of Arena, Marillion, Comedy of Errors, Mystery, Millenium, while Ghosts From The Future opens with a Pink Floydish / RPWL influence. Both songs however, quickly pick up momentum and break out with heavier and grungier passages which suits the songs perfectly.
The choruses throughout these two tracks, and others to follow, are what really make this album special as there are hooks a plenty to get stuck into. Long, soaring lead breaks permeate many passages where appropriate, and gives the album the metallic polish it seeks to achieve. The second track is broken into two smaller sections, while the title track is broken into five. Some stunning flute can be heard throughout the song but the sound is more akin to a heavier version of The Moody Blues, rather than something that Ian Anderson might have penned for Jethro Tull. It works exceptionally well, along with the squealing tones emanating from the lead guitar.
Thankfully, the band constrain their metal abilities to construct highly melodic songs and don't fall victim to the habit that many bands use by pummelling the listener with predictable double bass drum onslaughts that I find a bit repetitive. So many bands utilise this skill without adding much variety by way of triplets or better still, double triplets which are far more difficult to perfect.
The track, The Pilot's Not Fit To Fly has, of all influences, a rhythmic pattern right alongside something that Carlos Santana wrote many decades ago. No complaints from me then.
The main track, Telepathic Minds at over 17 minutes is the real deal and is replete with some insanely melodic sections and great songwriting in general. It runs the full gamut of extended guitar workouts, passionate vocals with excellent lyrics and solid songwriting that you want to keep hearing, time and again.
Clocking in at almost 90 minutes, the album will certainly give you your money's worth, and for a double album it's duration is about right.
There's no denying the quality of music that the world has been privileged to see released recently, has been of the highest order, and thankfully these Scandinavians can add their names to that venerated list of supreme musicians. For fans who have shown a predilection for some of the newer bands that have been reviewed here recently, such as Moon Letters, Mysteries Of The Revolution and Cosmograf, Overhead are a great band to add to your wish-list. What a great album to kick off my first review for 2023. Highly Recommended!
Formed in Helsinki in 1999, I have all five of the studio albums so far released by this quartet from Finland (Zumanthum, Metaepitome, And We're Not Here After All, Of Sun And Moon, and Haydenspark, plus their engaging live DVD Live After All.)
Following their musical journey has been a real pleasure. They have yet to release anything that would not have won a "recommended" tag from me. Their big dynamic range, the mixture of progressive, classic and modern rock styles (with a hint of flute), their addictive spinning of grooves, the abundance of emotion and the immediately recognisable voice of Alex Keskitalo has given Overhead's music a sound like no other. Their sixth studio album more than continues that run.
I'm not a big fan of double albums. Very few bands have ever succeeded in keeping my attention for one-and-a-half hours. Without any conceptual thread to tie these songs together, I find that I tend to listen to this as two separate albums. A sort of buy-one-get-one-free offer if you like!
Consuming Telepathic Minds in this way, I have failed to detect a preference for one "album" or the other. Both offer a consistently enjoyable level of compositional diversity and dexterity and a reliable flow of melodic moments.
Lyrically the album echoes the turbulent times in which it was created in the midst of the pandemic and the war in Europe, a time of intense global turmoil and reflection.
In terms of the songwriting, Telepathic Minds continues the transition from Of Sun And Moon. That was the most direct and accessible of the band's records. On Haydenspark Overhead increased the diversity and unpredictability. Four years later, and Telepathic Minds again increases the diversity and the track lengths. It also seeks to reintegrate the folky and traditional prog elements that were evident on their earlier albums.
Both Ghosts From The Future and Sail Across The Universe are pretty heavy. We even have a couple of death growls; just a couple though. The Pilot's Not Fit To Fly is one of my favourites, thanks to a great groove in the verse, that builds to a memorable alt-rock chorus.
The epic-length title track has its moments, but I much prefer the delicate guitar line that makes Tuesday That Never Came really sparkle. The band's Deep Purple influence is brought to the fore on Planet Of Disorder. This is another favourite due to some wonderful guitar playing and a delicate blending of the flute.
And I cannot not mention the wonderful packaging. If ever you need an example of how artists should be doing everything possible to encourage fans to splash out for the physical product instead of the downland, then this is one of the best I have ever seen.
Telepathic Minds is available as a double CD digipak, a gatefold double vinyl LP, and on all digital streaming and download platforms.