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Umphrey's McGee - Mantis CD (album) cover

MANTIS

Umphrey's McGee

 

Crossover Prog

3.62 | 64 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

darkshade
5 stars ive had this album for almost 2 months now and i feel im ready to review this

kicking off the 2009 prog rock season is Umphrey's McGee from left field. I honestly wasnt sure how this album would turn out, considering their last studio session which garnered 2 excellent albums (Safety in Numbers and The Bottom Half) however these 2 albums were a slight step down from Local Band Does OK and Anchor Drops.

Let me say that this band exceeded my expectations and gave us, easily, one of the best prog rock albums to come out in the last couple of years. They've branched out of their jazzy, Dream Theater-inspired jam band sound into a mature, progressive unit. Not to mention their more eclectic sound, taking influences from inside and out of the prog universe.

The opening Made To Measure is a great opener for the band, considering they usually open an album with a heavy rocker. This one is a more fun, Beatles feel to it. It basically sets you up for the monster title track.

Speaking of which, this song weaves in and out of moods, at one point sounding evil and menacing, and then sounding a little more upbeat, with an overall epic feel. but then descends into the depths of hell around 4:56. the second half of the song (after the demonic part) is a bit more reflective and really gives chills down my spine. wait nevermind, the closing guitar solo sends chills down my spine. A great modern prog rock mini-epic at over 12 minutes (with Preamble)

next up is easily the best song on the album, Cemetary Walk (parts 1 & 2). this song has become my favorite song for 2009, opening with an almost Jaco Pastorious type of intro with the piano and bass. Without warning the rest of the band comes crashing in into one of the best rockers ive heard from these guys. the 7/8 main theme is so good and is reprised many times (once in 4/4!). Another shocking guitar solo.

going into part 2 is where the song really makes me go nuts. it reprises the theme, but in a 'techno' context with the keyboards playing some nice, tasteful stuff. At live shows this song has been played extended about 10 minutes longer!

this is where i consider the halfway point in the album. once thing ive noticed is how much the keyboards are more present (not prominent) in the 2nd half than the first.

Turn & Run has a great acoustic/electric mix and a catchy chorus. more odd time sigs abound. Around 2:43 the most beautiful section of music comes in, sorta reminds me of YES, especially in the guitar lead. Symphonic fans will love this track. Outro with a guitar solo, this time with the band rockin out more than ever.

Spires is epic without the length. a great keyboard melody comes in after the barrage of heavy guitars. Dream Theater fans will find a lot to like here, especially in the guitar playing, and one of the bridges. The last 3 minutes are incredible! some of the best vocal harmonies ive heard from this band. there's something beautiful, yet mysterious about the last section of this song. Feels like im flying on a cloud.

Prophecy Now is hard to describe. one of the more unique Umphrey's songs, even though it's under 3 minutes. It sounds really epic, but otherwise i dont know how to describe this one, haha. It's a little dark, but has an uplifting feeling to it, kind of. You're just going to have to listen for yourself, you'll know what i mean.

Red Tape is the 'fun' song on the album. the mix of guitars with the low-end horns is great. And this is a great rocker in classic Umphrey's McGee fashion. Great riffs, crazy twin guitar leads, and a GREAT but waaayyy too short keyboard solo that reminds me of 70s prog ala Yes, ELP, or Frank Zappa.

1348 is one of those 'save the best for last' songs. A wicked main riff in 6 over drums in 4. this is easily the jazziest song, with the verses being very jazzy, and the more demonic sections containing some very jazz-fusion bass playing. These guys must be taking a hint or 2 from Steven Wilson or Michael Akerfeldt int he vocal department, using a similar effect they use. Very cool. I also hear some Frank Zappa and John Scofield influences. Finally the last minute or so fierce and bring this amazing album to a fast paced finish.

Excellent album, i cant praise it enough. You're a fool if you're a prog fan and do not have this album (or others) by this band. This could easily go down as one of the best Prog Rock albums of 2009. Of the 2000s as a whole. Do yourself a great big favor and GET THIS ALBUM!!! You will not be disapointed.

darkshade | 5/5 |

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