Review Summary: Elegant ferocity.
Infinite Mind by Lee McKinney of Born of Osiris fame is his first solo studio album. Considering his previous material with the aforementioned Born of Osiris, one would expect this album to be in line with that band's overall sound, well would be very wrong in thinking that. This album is not deathcore nor metalcore at all, rather this album is more in line with the likes of instrumental bands Polyphia or Animals as Leaders. Incorporating progressive metal, progressive rock, and even jazz elements into the music, this is one of the last things I would expect a member of Born of Osiris to produce as his solo album.
Nonetheless, upon delving into track number one entitled A Clock Without A Craftsman, I was super impressed with what I heard. The track opens with a huge wall of sound, with a lead tapping riff that is both technical and catchy at the same time. These beginning moments are also extremely djent inspired as one would expect of Lee McKinney from BoO; but really, this is one of the only elements that Lee's solo album and his band share in common. The first verse opens with a lead line played by a saxophone, yes you heard me, a freakin saxophone. The lead is also accompanied by lightly played plucks of strings by Lee, with an extremely beefy bass groove to back it up. The verse then transitions beautifully into this wonderful hook that once again features the saxophone providing the lead line. The guitars become more distorted in this chorus, to bring to the first culminating moment of the song, it's extremely well played, composed, and realized.
I am extremely impressed with Lee's obedience when it comes to restraint in songwriting in this track. There are some really distorted groove-oriented moments on this song, don't get me wrong, however, in the second verse, it becomes even more stripped back than it was previously on verse one. This second verse definitely delves right into ambient territory with this fantastically relaxed moment that is super enriching to the track as a whole. Overall this track one I would consider to be a near-flawless composition, the attentiveness to dynamics is extremely appreciated, this song has a beautiful ebb and flow to it, the pre-chorus and chorus respectively are also fantastically written.
Mentioning specifically Polyphia and Animals as Leaders previously was intentional because I do think this record is a melting pot of both of these bands, with some jazz and ambient moments sprinkled in, of course. For example on track two entitled Amaneusis, the intro riff sounds exactly like something you'd hear in an Animals as Leaders record, but when it comes to the hook, it definitely sounds like something a lot more in line with Polyphia in their Rennaisance era. However, I don't think Lee is trying to imitate these artists, rather he's simply drawing inspiration from them in order to create his own sound. I will say though sometimes there are moments on this album that sound more derivative than I would like to admit, especially during some of these hooks, I digress.
Rising Tide has a decent opening but it's nothing too special in my estimation, however in the verse, there is a great surprise once again, this time a synthesizer that is traditionally used in jazz is implemented. I thought this was a really slick addition to this track. Astrolabe is a favorite of mine, I think it has one of the best and catchiest hooks on the entire album. I love the tension before this chorus hits on this track, a lot of breathing space is given before this massive impact of sound hits. This track also sounds a fair bit like a Born of Osiris style of riff, especially in the verses, A Clock Without A Craftsman remains as the best track this album has to offer, however. Lee McKinney's debut solo record definitely is something to check if you're into instrumental progressive metal and progressive rock in any type of capacity. The incorporation of jazz and ambient elements is really well done and makes this project stand out among other contemporaries in my opinion. This being only Lee's debut record, I'm really looking forward to what's to come next in a new album in the future, and will definitely be keeping tabs on this.