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Kansas - Monolith CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.21 | 350 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well, 'Monolith' marks the start of an era of regressive creativity in Kansas, that's true, but still you can find strong material in this album, craftily performed, lots of energy, and specially, an extra amount of superb drumming and bass playing. It looks as if the slight diminishing of the progressive essence paved the way for the rhythm section to shine with a stronger light of its own: the guitar riffs are more featured in the mix, too. But despite their tendency to settle down to complex hard rock, this is still a progressive album. The repertoire is almost equally divided between Livgren and Walsh: they don't seem to be interested in interacting anymore as writers. The emotional opening number (a Livgren song about the difficulties of writing a song - maybe a confession of the fear of the blank paper syndrome?) delivers a testimony of a mysterious truth that is clearly there, but words fail to express: Walsh's singing is particularly great on this one. But... not as great as in track 3, 'Angels Have Fallen'. This Walsh-penned number is one of his most amazing compositions, with a sombre dramatism that is enhanced by his sung parts. The epic interlude and the majestic finale are simply captivating, with Steinhardt playing his violin like an inspired magician among the fiery guitar riffs and solos: his sung parts are calmer, in contrasts to his dominant partner's interventions. The instrumental climax is an apex of dramatism punctuated as a source of contrast by the last notes played at unison by a sole dute of violin and piano. Amazing!! This is my fave track of the album. Livgren, on the other hand, sounds much more optimistic, since he is now seeing the world with full hope given his then recent look into into the Urantian Movement (just on the verge of new-born Christianism). His opus 'A Glimpse of Home' is a candorous testimony of this crucial event in his life: the melodic lines, keyboard and violin interplays, and the guitar solos are well designed, like a musical ceremony. In the same vein, the closing acoustic ballad 'Reason to Be' describes the beauty implicit in the miracle of a trascendental revelation. 'People of the South Wind' is a catchy tune, with some poppy leaning a-la funky, with an interesting guitar solo in the middle: just funny. A major level of energy is displayed in 'How My Soul Cries Out for You' (a hard rock piece, at times almost heavy metal), and 'Away from You' (country-centered): both Walsh tracks comprise some interesting prog twists, and once again I have to mention it, great work by Ehart on drums. 'Stay Out of Trouble' is your typical angry rock tune, something to enjoy with a sense of fun before the solemnity of Reason to Be' ultimately appears. All in all, a very good album, though a bit far from some previous efforts' grandeur. Better than "merely good" and not as good as to be labelled as purely "excelent": yet, tracks 1, 3, 4 and 5 make 'Monolith' worth of my 4-star rating.

Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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