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Mars Hollow - World In Front Of Me CD (album) cover


Mars Hollow


Crossover Prog

3.69 | 85 ratings

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4 stars Mars Hollow "World in Front of Me" is the sophomore offering from this Symphonic/hard rock band from LA. This time around they are in the capable hands of producer engineer Billy Sherwood. While the band admits the first album was bit more disjointed in its conception this one flows completely like a well painted landscape.

The band is very tight and has a great chemistry together. The bass(Kerry Chicoine) and drums(Jerry Beller) complement each other so well while not glued at the hip and provide a great foundation for the other layers of the band Guitarist (John Baker) and Keyboards (Steve Mauk) who add some very tasteful colorings that neither are overpowering nor understated (that is a very hard thing to do btw). The vocals of John Baker are interesting and while not having a lot of dynamic range certainly is enough fill up that needed portion of the music. To be honest I am not a huge fan of Jon Anderson nor Geddy Lee's overall vocals but certainly respect what they do in my opinion John falls into this category. I love the fact you can understand what he is singing and he delivers very memorable vocal lines. Now to the music!

The CD starts off with Walk on Alone that sets the tone for the rest of the CD a sort of 12 minute overture. It starts off with an acappella vocal that reminds me of Kansas and breaks immediately into a an energetic instrumental part that sounds like so much great American prog rock it has to make you smile. It is like all the good bands rolled up into one. My favorite part of it comes around the 5:30 minute mark with a dissonant synth line that breaks into a great gallop. Spock's Beard meets Kansas.

Voices is really diverse song. Disturbing in the lyrics and dark musical backdrop for the vocal but has some outstanding musical swells that then crash back into the dark vocal. Somehow the things you wish Pink Floyd had done sometimes.

That brings us from Voices to Weapons (sense a theme here boys and girls? The next song is called What Have I Done) this one has little quirky vocal line I seem very attracted to for some reason. Some really cool analog synth patches in the solo and great grooves laid down by Chicone and Beller throughout the song. The internal struggle continues in What Have I Done as the music goes from a quite introspective self examination at the beginning to a violent explosion of realization to close out the song with the question what have I done to end up like this being the key line. I am complete sucker for songs like this.

Mind over Matter is a ballad that sort of transitions the listener to final piece(s) of the CD. Unfortunately while well played and sung it really is not memorable to this listener and almost seems incomplete. The melody is good but a bit underdeveloped. This could have been better (In my best Chef Ramsey voice).

The final two pieces that round out the CD are Prelude and World in Front of Me. Prelude is a solo piano piece by Mauk who does a very good job of moving from one theme to another that also moves into the opening of World in Front of Me. I am sure this is how it plays live. Tthe opening few minutes are sort of physecdelic intro to the vocal that brings us out of the depths of despair from a few songs ago to the hope of the new day ahead of us. The music almost is a reprise of some themes from the Walk on Alone but not really. It is more the resolution of that song as the subject resolves to come back from the setback to get back to their life. A very common theme for many of us really and most of us can relate to this.

All in all a solid offering from a solid band. To be truthful Mars Hallow is not breaking any new musical ground but neither are they regressing into sounding exactly like something else. They take their influences and mold them into something they can call their own and they do it competently and lead you on a great journey. I love the fact they didn't cram everything on here to get to 1.5 hours on the CD. This is 47 pretty satisfying minutes. Better to leave people wanting more than give them too much. Finally, Kudos to Billy Sherwood's work on the production this thing is an eargasam with headphones on. I don't think Mars Hollow will walk alone very much with products like this. You have made lots of friends. Great Job! 4 Stars

Garion81 | 4/5 |


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