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Man On Fire - Habitat CD (album) cover

HABITAT

Man On Fire

 

Eclectic Prog

3.62 | 37 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

jeacho
4 stars I've had Man on Fire's new release "Habitat" for only a couple of days and I am still letting it all sink in. Habitat, like all great works, takes repeat listens to fully blossom on you. There are plenty of initial hooks to bring you in ("The Block", "Mr. Lie", "What the Canvas Hides", "Curtain Call", etc.) but many of the tunes don't truly reveal themselves until you have heard them several times. If you are looking for comparisons or direct musical references, look elsewhere. MoF is an original band. There is nothing derivative here. Even Adrian Belew's playing morphed into the MoF sound. Yeah, you hear his tone and playing and everything (which is the perfect compliment to MoF's keyboard/fretless bass driven songs) but it is somehow totally fresh in this context. The Discipline style riff in "the Beast Inside" is the closest thing to awareness of a particular sound, but even that is original in the MoF context! And David Ragsdale is superb, as always. He gets edgy ("Mr. Lie"), prodigious ("Habitat"), and lovely ("What the Canvas Hides", "Lover Never Lost"). Most importantly, he is consistently musical and blends into the MoF mix.

"Habitat" is impressive on multiple fronts. To be expected, the production values are incredible. Musically, "Habitat" is top notch. I am always drawn to melody more than words or concepts, but "Habitat" pulls you into the concrete jungle, revealing all of these people and their situations. There are segues and habitat street scenes that tie it all together. It's like "The Block" owns them. You find yourself actually visualizing them, feeling their situations, hating them ("Mr. Lie"), feeling their pain, whether admirable ("Majestic") or pathetic ("Beast Inside", "Curtain Call"), relating to their escape ("What the Canvas Hides"), and rising above it with the truth ("Love Never Lost", "Broken"). I particularly like the way the closer "Habitat" wraps it all up; start anew, have faith, create your destiny. Not only the perfect coda to a unique concept, but a very cool song, to boot.

Integral to the MoF sound is the vocals of Jeff Hodges. He shows emotion, range and phrasing that are truly original. The vocals perfectly compliment Steve Carroll's lyrics and imagery of "Habitat". I also love the keyboard work on this CD. MoF always has the right sounds and textures without ever being overbearing. The playing is totally fitting to the tunes and the aural spectrums provide a foundation to tell the stories. Standout keyboard solos include the very cool solo at the end of "Curtain Call" and the very melodic solo on "Habitat", which trades with some incredible violin playing.

At the bottom of the sound spectrum of MoF is the trademark fretless bass work. Eric Sands continues to demonstrate some of the best fretless playing on the scene. His playing is always in the pocket. He and the drummer, Rob Sindon have a strong rapport that provides a solid foundation for the MoF soundscape. As special guests, David Ragsdale and Adrian Belew are excellent compliments for MoF. The coolest thing is how cohesive it is. It all fits together perfectly. MoF has a unique chemistry. There is no disparity in parts, just a tight production where the sum exceeds the individual parts. Highly recommended!

| 4/5 |

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