MARTIN MILLER – Maze Of My Mind (2023) HQ
Do you like your melodic progressive rock wrapped by a bright, polished AOR sound? Do you like Steve Lukather and John Petrucci guitar playing? If you are reading 0dayrox the answer must be ‘Yes!’. Then make yourself a favor and hear “Maze Of My Mind“, the upcoming album of MARTIN MILLER.
Martin Miller is a German guitar player / songwriter working as session musician, tour musician, teacher, has his own signature guitar with Ibanez, has recorded with Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, etc. Miller has released music before, but “Maze Of My Mind” is his first real solo album, where he also does all lead vocals and dude, if the guy can play electric guitar (and believe me he does) just wait to hear his melodic voice.
Musically think Asia, Marillion, YOSO, World Trade, Devin Townsend – just to have a clue, there’s much, much more into “Maze Of My Mind”, a terrific, awesome album plenty of melodic bliss and great ideas.
Take a look at the cover artwork that adorns ”Maze Of My Mind” courtesy of Markus Vesper Art. It’s both beautiful and weird. It screams ‘prog’, and that’s what you get here, but more.
Walking the fine line between prog rock and progressive metal, whilst throwing in some unashamed melodic Rock&pop and AOR influences, Martin Miller has assembled a cast of musicians that have together created something quite special indeed.
It may only consist of five tracks, but ”Maze Of My Mind” has a runtime of forty minutes or so, meaning that each song is a meaty, weighty affair. Not that it feels like that when you listen. Instead, there’s a sparkle, a breezy verve, and a sense of enjoyment and fun that permeates the songs, making each spin a joy to listen to.
You want to feel a little bit better about the world? Then listen to this album.
The first song, ‘Something New’ is the track that’s out there in the digital universe already. It also happens to be my favourite, although as each spin, this becomes less and less certain as all songs are excellent. Right from the outset, the song is full of that breeziness that I referenced – the energy within the opening, cheeky riff and accompanying synths is wonderful, planting a smile on my face immediately. It isn’t long though, before the song goes off on a brief instrumental prog tangent then being brought back to the strong melodies via the opening vocals from Miller himself.
This album is his first attempt at singing so it’s all the more incredible a performance from him. He sounds assured, relaxed, and he hits all the notes with apparent ease and smoothness. His performance is very credible indeed, fitting the music well.
As ‘Something New’ develops, I hear the Toto influences, I also understand the Dream Theater references, albeit not quite as heavy and crunchy as the US outfit. I can also detect a smidge of Def Leppard in the mid-section instrumental sequence, as well as other fleeting references along the way. The guitar work, as you’d expect is out of the top drawer, culminating in a killer solo in the latter stages that all but sees the song to its close.
But it’s not just Miller that impresses, as his ensemble all put in exemplary performances on album as a whole. The drums are handled by Sebastian Lanser (Obsidious, ex Obscura, ex Panzerballett), the primary bassist is Ben Jud (Martin Miller Session Band), whilst the majority of the keyboards belong to the skills of Marius Leicht (Martin Miller Session Band).
Then there’s Zach Ansley who is credited as the co-writer of the album’s lyrics which talk about the journey to ‘become a better version of yourself’, with all of the ups and downs in between.
After the exuberance of the opening track, ‘Fragments’ takes things down a notch, with a quieter, more introspective vibe. It’s a nice change of pace and allows for the musicians to play around with some more subtle sounds and textures. Something of a slow burner as a result, I have warmed to it immensely. The touch and intonation from Miller is delightful, the piano notes of Leicht are rich and inviting, and the wistful tone of the song, blended with the melodies and the gradually increasing intensity is a combination that draws me in expertly.
On ‘Left Inside’ there’s an It Bites vibe at the outset and at points throughout, blended with poppy melodic rock with a strong sense of melody.
‘Web Of Lies’ sees the bass of Ben Jud come even more to the fore within a reasonably lengthy but disarming instrumental intro. It is also possibly the most ’80s sounding of the tracks, thanks to the chosen keyboard and synth sounds, including one that reminds me of Van Halen’s ‘Jump’.
I really like the increased pace and urgency which provides real energy to the song, but the shifts in sound and approach give the track a lovely ebb and flow. Miller talks about his desire to create music that’s complex, but not obviously so, preferring subtlety over ostentatious displays of technicality. It is this song where I believe he achieves this feat most readily perhaps, although there are arguments to say that all the way across the record, frankly.
All too quickly, we arrive at the closing track, ‘Compass (Beneath The Lights)’. If there was going to be an outright contender for the ‘best song’ accolade alongside the opener, it’d be this. It is a beautifully crafted song. It is so deliciously melodic, and so uplifting, too.
Actually, it might be the most emotional ten minutes on ‘Maze Of My Mind’, even though the switches between moods is quite pronounced at times. It has a properly epic feeling to it, too, the perfect closer to such an ambitious body of work, as if tying all the loose ends together neatly whilst going out in a blaze of glory.
I’ve gone from knowing nothing about Martin Miller to absolutely adoring his music in the space of 40 minutes. It’s these kinds of discoveries that make your day. And weeks, months to come as “Maze Of My Mind” is for repeated listens.
If you are someone who likes progressive music that straddles the worlds of rock and metal, and like the idea of it being laced with melodic rock / AOR sensibilities, a touch of ’80s nostalgia, and exemplary musicianship, ”Maze Of Your Mind” is the album for you.
01 – Something New
02 – Fragments
03 – Left Inside
04 – Web of Lies
05 – Compass (Beneath the Lights)
Martin Miller – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Sebastian Lanser (Obsidious) – drums
Ben Jud (Martin Miller Session Band) – bass
Marius Leicht (Martin Miller Session Band) – keyboards