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Kansas - Monolith CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.20 | 337 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars Monolith might just be ultimate so-so album. It's enjoyable, but enjoyable to an extent and never as interesting as the classical albums. The AOR tendencies have started to creep into the bands sound, but compared to Audio-Vision, they are kept on a tighter leash here, never indulging in arena-style rock as on that release. I guess that this is what one could call their transitional album, acting as a middle-way between Point Of Know Return and Audio-Vision. So this is basically Kansas Light. The Prog-Related Kansas if that's a better description.

While Kansas have always maintained a balance between guitar and keys, the balance has shifted in favour of the former on Monolith. Standard gritty, distorted rock guitar riffing, acoustic chord work and the mandatory solo coupled with less unusual time signatures and straight-forward structure opens up for a heavier, ballsy sound the casual Kansas listener might feel slightly put off by. The keys, or rather just piano for the most part, returns in mellower parts, and it's leading form is re-shaped into an accentuating or atmospheric one, much like with other melodic rock bands from the time. Some loathed 80s-like synth has also snuck into the mix. Just listen to the intro of People Of The South Wind. It leaves a bad taste to the rest of the otherwise quite catchy tune.

The songs that are most 'Kansas' are probably On The Other Side, which features a classic odd-signatured pounding bass-drum section and Away From You. Violin-keys-interplay and that rolling feeling I just intimately think of as Kansas-esque make that one stand out. Oh, and Angels Have Fallen. Just a great mix of old and new.

Coming to think of it, in terms of progressiveness, Audio-Vision might take the first prize in competition with Monolith, since it has a skewed outline of blatant rock vulgarity and tasteful longer compositions. Monolith is a more consistent 'prog-related' effort, and even if that is a terribly vague description, that's what you get. It's an intense album, vibrant and fun to listen to, and you feel that the band's still working together in relative harmony. This is a planned changed direction, not a fight of interests as Audio-Vision. If in the mood for some up-tempo, classy rock, listen to Monolith. Will not bring any shame to your collections!

3 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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