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Kansas - Monolith CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.20 | 349 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Is Monolith the last of the classic Kansas albums or the beginning of the end? Go ask a philoskopher (I'm only an amateur historian). Speaking personally, I enjoy this album more than the works that followed, less than the pair that preceded it, which is hardly a revelation since most critics can agree on that. The disagreement occurs over where to grade the curve; were Leftoverture and Know Return masterpieces or mere mediocrity carefully concealed by producer Jeff Glixman? If you fall into the former camp, there's plenty of magic left on Monolith: "On The Other Side," "Reason To Be," "People of the South Wind." If you're apt to find flaws, there are more than a few moments on Monolith when the band embellishes simple songs with bombastic arrangements, as if flash were a substitute for substance. In fairness, Monolith marks the first time the band self-produced an album in the studio, and some of the silly touches (like the abrupt drum solo at the end of "How My Soul Cries Out For You") are to be expected when ambition collides with inexperience. What holds the album together is not a unifying story (contrary to some reports, this is not a concept album about space indians) but a unified Kansas. Steve Walsh, whose songs usually departed from Kerry Livgren's search for God, joins forces by writing songs with religious ramifications: "How My Soul Cries Out For You," "Away From You," "Angels Have Fallen." Only the directionless "Stay Out of Trouble" shows the sextet out of step with one another. If the album's theme is overtly religious, the music rocks out in spots, notably "Angels Have Fallen" and "A Glimpse of Home" (which sounds more like King's X than their previous work with Glixman). Considering that Livgren opens the album questioning his own inspiration, Monolith is a surprisingly inspired work. When it all clicks (and it clicks often here), Kansas makes superlative, spiritual music that fuses the best parts of American rock and English prog. If that's a sellout (as some have claimed), I'm sold.
daveconn | 4/5 |


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