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Kansas - Masque CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 554 ratings

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4 stars Climbing to the Pinnacle.

Masque is the third Kansas album in less than two years ! Pretty amazing rhythm considering the high quality of the music. This album, IMHO, is the most guitar driven in the band's original line-up history. Great riffs, great solos, it rocks all the way. Of course, the other instruments are also well present, with a special mention to Dave Hope, an unsung hero bassist that doesn't play too many notes but places them perfectly.

The album starts with "It Takes a Woman's Love (to Make a Man)" a straight forward rocker from Walsh : you can easily recognize his style, both in music and lyrics, the latter being much more direct and simple than Livgren's often esoteric ones. It's an uplifting song that I enjoy a lot.

"Two cents worth" is a Livgren unusually short and simple song with, again, Walsh direct lyrics about a man that drinks because he is too depressed by the world he lives in. Great bass intro, great groove with wahwah guitar driving the song, great piano break. Unexpected effect for a song about alcoholism, it puts me in the mood to grab a beer and enjoy the music.

Then comes "Icarus - Borne on Wings of Steel". What a song !!! It was love at first listen for me and it stands still after so many years. A pure Livgren classic for the ages that will make you fly high.

Inevitably, any track that follows "Icarus" is exposed to pale in comparison. Still, "All the World" is a very good song with a lot of mood and rhythm changes. The outro with its high vocal choirs would appear ridiculously cheesy coming from anyone else but it's Kansas, you know, the band that could make you agree that pomp is a quality .

"Child of Innocence" is pure Livgren again. It is also the first prog metal song in Kansas career and it's a great one. The riff and guitar solo in the last minute are really killers. Too bad they end with a fading outro, as it happens too often on this album.

"It's You", on the other way, is pure Walsh : a fast-paced love song with ultra-basic lyrics : "Oh it's you. Oh I'm blue". It works fine with me, though, a little breath before diving into prog metal again.

"Mysteries and Mayhem", as announced, is like the little brother of "Child of Innocence" but with a more prominent role of the violin. Equally good to the aforementioned.

"The Pinnacle", approaching the ten minutes mark, is the epic of the album. It starts with the musical theme of "Mysteries and Mayhem" and develops into softer and more complex variations. There is a theatrical touch to the first part of the song that makes me feel that it's one of the few Kansas pieces that has similarities with the European prog of the same period. But some heavy guitar riffs and, of course, the violin, carry the Kansas trademark. A great song, though, and a smart way to close the album.

I maybe sometimes too easy on the five stars mark so I will restrain myself for once but Masque is a great album with no fillers, worth of 4,5 stars. You can only regret all those unnecessary fading outros. Hard to believe that the best was yet to come .

Bupie | 4/5 |


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