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Lizard - Master & M CD (album) cover

MASTER & M

Lizard

 

Eclectic Prog

3.90 | 113 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

wiz_d_kidd
3 stars If Master & M were my first exposure to the Polish band Lizard, I probably would not have purchased any of their other works. As it were, I began my Lizard adventure with the album Spam, and having become completely enamored, I quickly scooped up Tales From the Artichoke Wood, Psychopuls, and W Galerii Czasu (In the Gallery of Time). I love them all.

So it was with great anticipation that I waited for their next release, Master & M. I waited, and waited, and waited. It took several years from their original announcement and teaser releases before the full album was published, during which time I grew increasingly concerned. And rightfully so. The band had changed, and not for the better, in my opinion.

You see, the music prior to Master & M was just fantastic. Nice melodic vocals, up-front percussion and bass presence, occasional stand-out (but not overwhelming) guitar parts, cerebral violin passages to smooth everything out, forward-leaning compositions that played the tension and release game nicely, and the whole thing nicely mixed so no single player dominated. All of that disappeared on Master & M.

Certainly, a large part of the change was due to the loss of Krzysztof Maciejowski (violin & keyboards), Mariusz Szulakowski (drums & percussion, programming) and Andrzej Jancza (keyboards). The new keyboard player's parts seemed to be mixed to minus infinity dB, aside from a few (but very nice!) solo parts. The percussion and bass were also mixed to oblivion. I had a hard time finding any standout performance by the new drummer, while the bassist did have opportunities to make an occasional statement, but with far less presence than past recordings. And gone completely was the violin. Oh how I missed that violin! One track (Chapter IV) did have some violin-like parts, perhaps from synth guitar, as an ersatz replacement.

So, the new band just doesn't hold a candle to the old one, in my opinion. That aside, the entire mixing job created an entirely muddled mess of overly dominating guitars and vocals. It seems like every time Damian Bydlinski (vocal, guitar, guitar synthesizer) sang, they had to turn it up, and every time the guitars chimed in, they had to turn it up -- both way louder than necessary. Bass, percussion, and keys simply disappeared in the poorly mixed melee. It created a very spectrally-imbalanced album, with most of the music and vocals in the high frequency range, but with very little low-frequency presence. I found myself constantly reaching for the equalizer to try to balance it all out, but it didn't work. What used to be an equal-opportunity band, with everyone's contributions easily recognizable, became a vocal- and guitar-centric band, aside from an occasional flourish or solo from keyboard or bass.

The thing is, I liked Damian's voice and guitar playing on the other albums. And he did it while keeping a nice balance with the rest of the band. In Master & M, the balance is gone. I was extremely disappointed. It's not a bad piece of music, mind you, just bad mixing (or arranging) and a far cry from what I was expecting as a follow up to their prior albums. What could have been a five-star album, was demoted to a four-star rating because of bad mixing and arrangement, and then demoted again to three stars because of my utter disappointment.

wiz_d_kidd | 3/5 |

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