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Kansas - Audio-Visions CD (album) cover

AUDIO-VISIONS

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

3.05 | 167 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
2 stars After quickly being engulfed by Kansas' unique sound a couple of years ago, they seemed like an unstoppable force to me. Every single album was either great, excellent or magnificent and were quickly mounted on a pedestal of both admiration and uniqueness in my otherwise prog-related hard rock/heavy metal world. And while still in this bubble, the downfall of the band was just as notable as it is today. It may have started with Monolith, but never was the decline as notable as on Audio-Visions.

It isn't a complete disaster yet. But songs like Relentless, Got To Rock On, Don't Open Your Eyes and No Room For A Stranger really make me cringe. I usually have no trouble listening to some AOR casually, especially since that's what I've been exposed to for the best part of my childhood. But this is Kansas after all, not Toto, even though Steve Walsh really does his best trying to transform the band into them. These songs are all full of arena-attitude, pumping rythms, pop-rock hooks and simple accessible structure. The enjoyable slimness and streamlining so often present with other AOR acts like the aforementioned Toto or Journey is lost in Kansas' hands. Because when they try to apply old habits on this new sound the end result feels overblown and yes, very cheesy. Kansas has always given a nod in hard rock's direction, but you can feel that the band isn't comfortable here. Fat and clumsy. Not everything is new, though. Robbie Steinhardt's violin is still here, but more in the background, there's still some traditional Kansas structure, shared vocal duties and familiar keys.

Some of Audio-Vision is actually really enjoyable, with feelings of the golden days of the '70s, but with a distinct modern sound. Curtain Of Iron and the trademark Kansas sound of No One Together stands out. Great jumpy and happy intro from the keys leading into a short, whirling solo run from Steinhardt and then back to keys, alone with Walsh. Vintage Kansas anyone? While the refrain is almost a Toto rip-off, it doesn't prevent me from melting. Curtain Of Iron's uses some choir girls and, pompous as it might be, it is decidedly epic. Could have been something on Leftoverture.

Two songs is hardly enough to make an album though, even with flashes of greatness widely dispersed in the other songs, and even with that considered, the albums inconsistency remains a serious flaw. There are two strong forces pulling at different directions here, and for fans of the band, this is hardly news. With Livgren brim-filled with born-again faith and Walsh hungry for the 'glorious' rock n roll lifestyle, this just couldn't work for much longer. The two interests are quite easy to pick up, making this two mini-albums side by side. Walsh quit after Audi-Vision and it would take a loooong time before Kansas returned to a sound like that of their golden era.

2 stars.

//LinusW

LinusW | 2/5 |

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