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Kansas - Monolith  CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.22 | 269 ratings

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4 stars Kansas' 1979 album "Monolith" was initially disappointing. Listening to lines about "The empty page before me now, the pen is in my hand, the words don't come so easy", I felt like they had writers block and had a lack of inspiration upon the first listen or so. However after a few listens the album grew on me.

The opening 'On the other side' is a great song for creating atmosphere, good vocal harmonies. I like the guitar lick that opens and closes the song, catchy, and very prophetic. the following "People of the South Wind" is a catchy song, not progressive rock, but has an eerie atmosphere that I like. I've never liked "Angels have fallen" it just seems out of place, and it was Steve Walsh trying to ruin the Religious atmosphere, but he's allowed to do that by the way. But his "How my soul cries out for you" is a rocking gem, and Robby Steinhardt rocks out on violin on this one. I like it's chord changes and bar-room, rocking sound, I would agree it drags on too long a bit at the end but not a major problem.

Flip over to side two and we are delivered the quaint, cheerful strains that open "A glimpse of home". This song cycles through various stages, the carnival-like opening riff, hard-rock sections, more gospel sounding sections. To Steve Walsh's credit, he interprets this Religious epic very well, seeing he didn't dig that stuff at all! Actually the song that follows, "Away from you", possibly my favourite Kansas song, is a Steve Walsh song but it's fairly similar to "A glimpse of home", but more uptempo. It goes through a few phases, like pomp-rock, acoustic sections, swirling synth passages. Then there's another bar-room rocker, "Stay out of trouble", which is quite enthusiastically performed, and is a nice change of pace. It's actually a very good song and has a nice rhythm to it. The album closes with a very surreal ballad, "Reason to be", soothing and a favourite of mine.

In closing, I'm actually very fond of "Monolith". It has plenty of atmosphere, if it doesn't have a lot of the long instrumentals. One thing wrong with this album, it is a bit short. Only eight songs, and they are not very long songs. Still it's an album worth checking out if you are a fan of atmospheric hard-rock prog.

Brendan | 4/5 |


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