GUARDIANS OF TIME – Machines Of Mental Design

GUARDIANS OF TIME - Machines Of Mental Design


Release Date: January 17, 2004

Guitars: B
Bass: B
Percussion: B
Vocals: C+
Lyrics: B+
Recording Quality: B
Originality: C+
Overall Rating: B-

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Concept albums don’t come around very often for a couple-three good reasons: 1). It’s difficult to derive a story line that can carry through an entire album without getting stale, 2). It’s even more difficult to compose lyrics that follow that story line AND contain the essentials like rhythmic meter (without sounding awkward), catchy choruses, and a rhyme scheme, and 3). If the first two roadblocks can be overcome, the most important task of developing powerful musical accompaniment still lurks as the double jeopardy challenge.

When a band pulls off a concept album successfully…well, the spoils indeed should be due to the victor! Enter Scandinavia’s Guardians of Time and their concept album Machines of Mental Design. The story line involves a woman, Delacroix, pondering her altruistic notion of creating a super-being (part mortal, part divine) to “cleanse” the human race, if you will. Her vision leads her to build a company – TriOpticon – to develop her concept within the structure of computer technology. TriOpticon grows and builds a faithful allegiance within its talented workforce, until Delacroix’s once philanthropic notion becomes twisted in favor of obtaining power via becoming that ultimate super-being herself. An eventual insurrection by TriOpticon employees follows, which is defeated by Delacroix, but causes her to become even more motivated to complete her mission. To the rescue of society comes the Guardians of Time, whose purpose is to terminate Delacroix and her technological developments. Delacroix, sensing the end may be near, physically enters the TriOpticon mainframe tower to survive – the Guardians of Time destroy the tower and appear to have eliminated Delacroix. But wait a second! Delacroix (somehow) is able to omnisciently assume an abstract life form by escaping to another dimension where her power is more pervasive and prevalent than ever before!

Veterans of the rock ‘n’ roll industry will likely see a parallel here to Styx’s Mr. Roboto album, and horror literary aficionados will see moderate plagiarism against Stephen King’s Lawnmower Man masterpiece. But in the end, “borrowing” a few ideas and jostling them around a bit isn’t really such a bad thing, now, is it? With that said, I give Guardians of Time a helluva lot of credit first for taking the plunge into a concept album…and second for making it both entertaining topically and successful musically!

Rune Schellingerhout and Paul Olsen, the guitar duo, complement each other quite well…the closest stylistic comparison that keeps coming to mind after listening to Machines of Mental Design multiple times is the Glenn Tipton/Ken Downing duo of Judas Priest. Both duos play within the boundaries of their abilities, are consistent, and make for an enjoyably well-rounded guitar performance, which pairs catchy riffs with integral power chord patterns and tasteful solos.

The bass play by Dag-Ove Johnsen is smooth and complements the other instruments nicely throughout the album. Almost every song includes rapid double bass drum work, which rocks at the beginning, but gives the feel of a boxer working out on a speed bag when it won’t let up about halfway through the album. There are quite a few impressive drum rolls by Vidar Uleberg in most songs, but the treble aspect of the percussion is understated for some unknown reason…the cymbals hiss instead of crash, and the snare is subdued…kind of odd because all other aspects of all the instruments, including the voice, exude with power from start to finish in this album.

Lyrically, Guardians of Time struggle a few times at maintaining musical integrity for the sake of preserving the story line, but a nice job overall is done. Vocally, Bernt Fjellestad demonstrates some real talent. At times, though, too much emphasis is placed on hitting the high notes…his normal singing voice is excellent, however, some of his high notes come across as strained and bit “airy” – kind of like he’s struggling to breathe because his balls are clamped in a vice (ouch!).

All the tracks in this album are consistently good, and none stand out as so much better than the others or as real clunkers. Most noteworthy, in my opinion, are Tracks #5, #10, and #13 – “TriOpticon,” “A Secret Revealed,” and “The Journey,” respectively. “TriOpticon” features a guitar riff with notable similarities to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, but with a few different twists so as not to appear to be a blatant rip off. Catchy choruses are not a focal point of this album, but “A Secret Revealed” indeed has one…couple that with flawless music and smooth vocal delivery, and you have a true Heavy Metal accomplishment to hang your hat on! “The Journey,” the final track, has my favorite lyric line: “…She speaks softly to your heart, as your head gets ripped apart…” – go figure — evidently in the year 2100, women haven’t really changed all that much! The song also ends with some interesting Beatles White Album type effects…I almost expected to start hearing “Number 9” repeated over and over again.

Machines of Mental Design is the second full-length album released by Guardians of Time, and is a powerful, well thought out Heavy Metal album with good musicianship. Other than a few percussion anomalies, this album boasts impressive production quality with some nice special effects thrown in every now and again…definitely an enjoyable, solid effort from start to finish! Should this band hold it all together, it’s very possible they will indeed grow to become a major player in the Heavy Metal industry.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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