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Umphrey's McGee - Mantis CD (album) cover

MANTIS

Umphrey's McGee

 

Crossover Prog

3.61 | 70 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars There are albums from Umphrey's McGee I like much better than this one, but regardless, it is a fun album with some pretty okay music throughout. I think I get why some folks won't like it, but it has a certain appeal in its bubbly pop sensibilities, and maintains some technical prowess and compositional integrity that keeps the music fresh and far from mere pop music.

"Made to Measure" The album kicks off with this plucky number, full of jaunty instrumentation and bouncy singing. The little bit of guitar playing that bookends the song is the best part for me.

"Preamble" This short track is a tune from a music box.

"Mantis" The full-bodied title track begins with heavy guitars interspersed with a dark, dreamy piano run. The main vocal melody is cheerful and the music is upbeat. Halfway through, the song basically stops and changes direction completely, becoming a slow-moving piece of music with a lazy lead guitar. About eight minutes in, the music turns into fast-paced light rock once more, highlighting both the lead guitar and the soaring vocals.

"Cemetery Walk" This begins gently, with a delicate piano leading the way. It becomes more like a 1970s classic rock song very soon, however, except for the chorus, which is truly remarkable and a great aspect of the song, nay, the album. The final two minutes consists of piano and a warbling slide guitar.

"Cemetery Walk II" This reinterprets the main theme of the previous track using piano and electronic dance beats, effectively turning it into a club tune. I can see why this would make most progressive rock fans want to vomit from their ears, but I rather think it's kind of cool, and after all, it only lasts two and a half minutes.

"Turn & Run" I like the acoustic introduction, but what follows is a bit harder to digest- it just seems too heavy for its own good. Also, the synthesizer has a really nasty tone. Luckily, the listener is compensated with a lovely passage courtesy of the tasteful lead guitar playing. The lead guitar solo at the end is good and raunchy.

"Spires" This one has a great introduction, with a pounding series of chords followed by a little piano run. It has a gritty guitar riff that bolters the synthesizer and lead vocals, and some great interplay between electric guitar and what sounds like violin. In another stop-start moment, the guitarist plays a completely unrelated bit that leads into pleasant, but also unrelated music. The song ends with an a cappella section.

"Prophecy Now" This terse number is an odd one, with a rather free melody that dictates the chord progression.

"Red Tape" A giddy little song, with brass and electric guitar, this features a stellar introduction that pops up here and there with little warning. For the most part, I don't see too much that's interesting about this one, but there's nothing that really bothers me about it- it's a solid yet lackluster song.

"1348" The final track is just one I can't get into. It has its moments, musically, but it's almost too cute. The saccharine electronic tones and guitar don't help the whiny, almost Smashmouth-like singing. When there is no singing, the music is more like ska.

Epignosis | 3/5 |

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