By Andreas Georgiou
You may have heard of the name Stelios Ioakim. Joakem is just another name for the Voice’s finalist of 2017 who impressed both the judges and the audience with his powerful rock voice and only lost the prize on details. Today we are looking at his first solo work, an alternative metal album called ‘Mind Matter’. Originally a classical pianist since the age of 6, the Cyprus-based musician Joakem started expanding his skills after becoming a member of several bands since 2009. Many of those bands are active to this day. He gradually evolved to become a sound-exploring keyboardist, vocalist and composer with influences ranging from progressive rock, metal, ambient, classical, jazz and fusion music.
The album was released in December 2018 and includes 8 tracks, following the release of two singles, ‘The Path, released in February 2018 and ‘Generation Z’ released in November of the same year. ‘Mind Matter’ is an album which showcases all the artistry and sensitivity but at the same time also rage, anger and agony that characterises the genre (alternative/progressive metal) and makes it sound so much relevant to this era. To this also contributes the amazing production which allows the listener to hear and feel every drop of emotion. At first glance, the album can be characterised as a blend of complex melodies and time signatures which often touch the lines of progressive rock, heavy synth sounds, aggressive guitars, intricate drum patterns and of course a blend of different vocal techniques which showcase Joakem’s strong vocal abilities and range.
The album begins with a more progressive feel, with the opening track ‘A Peaceful Place’ having a more cinematic touch to it accompanied by heavy guitar and synth riffs and gothic vocals. The constant alteration between a more solid voice and a more gothic one creates a very interesting tone to the song and showcases high levels of versality and a promising start for the rest of the album. The same style is easily noticeable at the second song as well, ‘Resurgence’. Equipped with beautiful piano parts, builds even more upon the versality of the band and raises the expectations even more.
Going into the third song, ‘Generation Z’, a song with a clear social message, we see a more pure alternative metal style with clearer structure and distinction between emotion-building verses and explosive choruses. To this point, I would say that the album feels exactly like how a good concert playlist should be, with the first two songs building emotion and the third one causing the explosion the listener seeks for.
Upon continuing to listen to the album, it honestly never ceased to amaze me. The fourth and fifth song of the album, ‘Illusory’ and ‘The Path’ respectively, also bring something new to the album, both having a more theatric feel to them, with characteristic changes in tempo and time signature that keep the listener on his feet, the same way a dramatic theatric scene would keep the audience with its eyes on the stage and a fast heartbeat. The same goes for the sixth song, ‘Terra’, a song in which the artist is concerned with the future of the planet, hence the title ‘Terra’ which is latin for ‘Earth’. Musically, the song is again a product of heavy guitar/synth parts and strong vocal emotion, with the melancholy of the previous two songs giving way to songs rage and anger, all together forming a crescendo of emotions, a gradual outburst.
The seventh song, ‘Treacherous’, is again a song of social concern, a last cry for help, one could say, before the end of the album. Finally, the last song of the album, ‘Departure’, allows the listener to be emotionally discharged, having more the feel of a strong power ballad, not being short however of all the musical elements that characterize the whole of the album and make it an unstable and exciting ride until the last note.