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

WORLD IN FRONT OF ME

Mars Hollow

 

Crossover Prog

3.69 | 79 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'World In Front Of Me' - Mars Hollow (8/10)

Hitting the scene last year with their self-titled debut, Mars Hollow has been the object of some acclaim and word-of-mouth advertising around the prog rock community. With a highly melodic, somewhat modern take on prog, Mars Hollow has a promising sound to them, and they have took no time to churn out a second album. 2011's 'World In Front Of Me' has been hailed as an even greater piece of work than the first, and with that, my curiosity was sparked. When I have high expectations for a band, all too often I will be left disappointed by the music, wondering why they were so hyped up in the first place. With Mars Hollow however, there is something really exciting at work. Although I would not go so far as to say that the band has an entirely original sound, Mars Hollow's very melodic and catchy, yet complex style of rock music keeps me coming back.

There will be some obvious comparisons made to neo-prog and symphonic legends like Marillion or Kansas, but to me, Mars Hollow most echoes the mid-career sounds of Rush. The charismatic higher-register vocals remind me greatly of Geddy Lee or Jon Anderson, and the instrumentation is a nice combination of old and new, making use of vintage synthesizer sounds, but paired with guitars that do not sound out of place in modern rock. Perhaps the best thing about Mars Hollow is the fact that in a genre that is infamous for displacing melodies, they often focus their songwriting around it. Many of the songs here have catchy choruses that will have a listener nonchalantly humming along to them before the song is finished. Greatest among these is the catchy single-worthy 'Weapon', which while not being the finest that 'World In Front Of Me' has to offer, is easily the most memorable, featuring a vocal chorus that only intensive electro shock treatments would be able to erase from my mind.

While the middle of the album focuses more on Mars Hollow's more concise songwriting, the highlights here are the two longer songs here, which bookend the record. 'Walk On Alone' and the title track maintain the melodies that Mars Hollow leans upon so heavily, but there's also a supplemental focus on the band's work as instrumentalists, where they hop off on proggy arrangements. The guitars are doused in helpings of jazz, and the bass work of Kerry Chicoine is always impressive, crafting interesting lines even while the guitars are in full swing. The drums do not have a great deal variety of sound to them, but Jerry Beller really tears them apart during the band's instrumental segments. Steve Mauk's keyboard work gives the band their vintage sound, focusing on accentuating many of the guitar parts, save for the solos, where Mauk's tastefully melodic synth work takes the centerstage. Possibly the best part about Mars Hollow however are the vocal harmonies, which the band is certainly not afraid to use. Although the lead vocals are always at the forefront, all members here sing, and they create lush arrangements that make the melodies shine brightly.

Mars Hollow does not yet have the original sound to them or challenging arrangements that could thrust them into the realm of mastery, but with 'World In Front Of Me', they have proven to me that they are near the front of the modern prog rock scene. And assuming they keep up this rate of releasing a new album every year, I am really excited to see what lies in wait for this excellent band.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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