Universal Mind Project - The Jaguar Priest

Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest cover
Universal Mind Project
The Jaguar Priest
Inner Wound Recordings
2016
6
“The Jaguar Priest” is UMP’s debut. Now who on earth are these UMP guys, I hear you ask. They appear to be an international gathering of musicians helping guitarist and main composer (and also wannabe growler) Michael Alexander to bring his vision to life, consisting of female vocalist Elina Laivera (ex-Seduce The Heaven), who relocated to Germany not too long ago from Greece, male vocalist Henrik Bath (Darkwater, Waken Eyes) and drummer Alex Landenburg (Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody). Additional musicians like vocalist Nils K Rue (Pagan’s Mind), guitarist and sometimes growl vocalist Mark Jansen (Epica), Charlie Dominici (first Dream Theater vocalist) and bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X) among others are also utilized in order to bring this project to reality, with their contributions varying in each case.
 
“The Jaguar Priest” is not badly executed, as it’s prog inspired layered songs don’t end up sacrificing structure for mere showing off and never become too meandering and are quite interesting. On the other hand, however well the material is executed, it doesn’t really manage to differentiate itself enough from other similar bands in a sea of mediocrity that floods listeners ears each month and Alexander almost always tries to include his own quite inept growling in every song, which the album would benefit tons from if he didn’t.
 
Songs like “Anthem Freedom”, the soft ballad “A World That Burns”, “Seven” and the title track are among the better moments, with Dominici being a well-used asset on the latter while Nils Rue not being bad either but sounding a little over the top on “The Bargain of Lost Souls” that’s a little underwhelming despite being short enough and having a couple of really good moments.
 
For a newcomer, they are offering a quite decent piece of work that however fails to really antagonize genre heavyweights directly, but leaves enough promise for better things in the future.