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Kansas - Masque CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 563 ratings

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4 stars When a band is pressured by their record co. (a real problem with the 70s), some things have gotta go. Masque is that transition that began to nudge Kansas away from their prog roots to something more friendly. There is some more piano, blues, and synthesizer input to this record. Some of Kansas' best tracks can be found on this decent album, but we see a major shift in genre sound and general progness. All the members show the best of there ability here, especially David Hope, Rich Williams, and Ehart. Steinhardt's violin shredding abilities are becoming less apparent on this album, except for tracks like Icarus, All The World, and The Pinnacle. Walsh and Livgren really haven't changed much here, but the synths are cranking some volume except for traditional piano in some songs. It's a must for Kansas fans.

It Takes A Woman's Love (To Make A Man) can SERIOUSLY throw someone off after listening to the first two albums (which opened with rather jazz influenced songs). There's more use of jazz/what-ever-that-is organ and its really more of a rock song. A really good piece though is the sped up ending where Ehart starts playing those drums in double-time.

Two Cents Worth is a rather lost song on this album. Its lyrics are fairly progressive, with the narrator lamenting the time period they were born in, wanting to get away from it all but in a long time "used" all the tears in their eyes. It continues some of Kansas' more depressing songs but the beat is something to groove to. I enjoy the extensive use of Bass, Drums, and real piano. A song that needs to be heard by all Kansas fans.

Icarus (Borne On Wings of Steel) is probably the most well-known song from this album, aside from The Pinnacle. This a rock groove with the verses and the "sail on" pieces. The mid section of the song is full of back- and-forth soloing and some heavy riffage. With a return to verse accompanied only by keyboard, the song comes back to the main theme, while then speeding up in a new riff and fading out. I believe this album should be bought because of this one and the next few songs.

All The World is a real gem on this album, for its melodic verses, loudest synthesizer possible, and a drum/ violin solo. The song flows with some piano and violin to start off then goes into a crazy synth-led section. The drum solo comes up with a fast violin solo that seems to get cut off. The rest comes back into a slow section and ending a cappella. Best part of this song is the vocals/harmonies performed. Just amazing.

Child Of Innocence sound like the bridge between early Kansas and future Kansas. Very heavy guitar playing, along with a chorus that is easy to sing to. Some strong vocals come out of this song, especially out of the verses. This is one of the more enjoyable short songs from this album and, as I believe, albums afterwards.

It's You is mostly a strict piano quip created by Walsh that involves few lyrics and a fast-paced scheme. It's somewhat swing paced, but reminds me a bit of Belexes; not much to say about this song due to its short length and simple composition. It's You.

Mysteries and Mayhem comes in with quick, sharp guitar and violin melodies. The lyrics in this one contain words present in the next song The Pinnacle, as it seems both the songs are supposed to be attached to one another. Mysteries and Mayhem is mostly fast-paced throughout the song with a guitar solo hidden in there somewhere. The song picks up at the end with the riff that begins The Pinnacle.

The Pinnacle and Mysteries an Mayhem probably were supposed to be together as a single track, which would clock at 14 minutes and would be awesome to listen to. The songs connect musically and lyrically, as the Pinnacle stands as a clear, moving piece. It begins with the lyrics, that search for the top; then it descends into an extended instrumental section with jazz organ solos. Steinhardt is really able to stand out in this song with lines that accompany few instruments. The guys make a particular good use of different synth/keyboard noises on the Moog and ARP synthesizers. After long sections, the song from a guitar solo and ends with a typical Kansas ending, but fading out and coming in with only the organ ending the last note. Clearly one of Kansas' last great prog-style tracks.

Masque is really good for those that enjoy the mix of prog with crossover stuff, as Kansas makes its way to the more commercial friendly album, Leftoverture. I cite it as an improvement of incorporating more sounds and probably stands as one of Kansas' most diverse sounding albums where all the members contribute to different moods and grooves. Definitely get if a Kansas fan, a good listen for a progger.

FromAbove | 4/5 |


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