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Marching Mind

Progressive Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marching Mind are from Vancouver, Canada, and there's no better way to describe their debut as a 2010 incarnation of the best Canada had to offer in previous decades, a mix of 77-81 Rush and 89-93 Voivod. But it's no mindless copy of those bands. The presence of their spirit is quite obvious but there's not one riff or melody that sounds like it's nicked one from the masters. Also, they never sound retro or old-school but very fresh and vibrant.

The focus on the album is the songwriting, which is quite brilliant to my ears: original and both catchy and complex. Guitarist Chris Neal is a marvel, switching between acoustic and electric, he rushes through an abundance of ideas, as if he opened a long-lost bag of Alex Lifeson riffs. Also drummer Sebastien Leger has a sound and style very similar to Rush, but less ornamental, laying low on the fills and ruffles. The bass and vocals are different though; the bass is quite sober but still very present and fluent, while vocalist Jeremy Tardif sounds not entirely unlike Voivod's vocalist in a melodic mood, as on "Angle Rat" and "Outer Limits". But his voice is less strained, limited in scope maybe but used very wisely, well aware of its limits and possibilities. He also handles the keyboards, used very sparsely but always very fitting and refreshing where they feature.

The most surprising and admirable about this album is the balance that this young band reached. Their way of playing is definitely Prog Rock/Metal, meaning technical, busy, complex and unconventional, but it's done very maturely, with fitting restraint: when there is a keyboard part, the guitars are put to the background or even absent, when there's a solo there is no rhythm guitar, when the vocals come to the fore, there are no keyboards and so on. In combination with the effective playing style of every band member the album never gets too busy or frantic, but remains very open and spacious. This music really breathes!

A marvelous 9/10 album, and I assume this band still has growing potential. Great debut, highly recommended for fans of classic Rush with a modern vibe.

Report this review (#439427)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Marching Mind" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by Canadian, Vancouver based progressive rock/metal act Marching Mind. The album was released through Baby.Com/Indys in November 2009. Jeremy "Diebux" Tardif (vocals, keyboards) and Chris Neal (Guitar) met in 2005 and wrote songs and played together in another band, but after that band split-up, it took a couple of years before the two met again. When they did, it was with a renewed enthusiasm and they wrote enough material for a full album before recruiting Will Goodall (bass) and Sebastian Leger (drums) to complete the lineup and record "Marching Mind".

The music on the album is alternative/progressive rock/metal which certainly donīt deny the bandīs Candadian musical heritage but donīt plagerize it either. Weīre talking influcences from especially early 90s Voivod (their alternative/progressive period), post 2000 Voivod and late 70s/early 80s and mid- to late 90s Rush, but Marching Mind expands on those influences and have created a sound of their own. For example Iīd mention a band like Pearl Jam as an influence too. There is something about the vocal lines and occasionally also the way Jeremy Tardif sings that remind me of the latter mentioned act. Because of the sci-fi themed lyrics and cover artwork itīs probably Voivod Iīm mostly reminded of though.

The music is predominantly guitar driven but with a fusion influenced rythmic foundation. Besides the memorable vocal lines and strong vocal performance by Jeremy Tardif, which provides melodic texture to the music, there is also occasional use of keyboards in the music. Sometimes itīs piano, like itīs the case in "Mission", and sometimes itīs more spacy sounding synths which are used. No matter what type of piano/keyboard og synth sound are used they are always incorporated in a very tasteful way. This is by no means a keyboard dominated album but their presence add an extra dimension to the music thatīs greatly enjoyable.

The 52:01 minutes long album features 10 tracks of intriguing and well written progressive rock/metal and while my initial listen didnīt reveal it, repeated listens have revealed great songwriting depth and variation too. Tracks like the dark and haunting "Mission" and the beautiful closing track "Awakening" bring diversity and flow to the album while tracks like "Data Complex", "The Harbinger" and "Luminous Descent" both challenge me and also have emotional impact on me. I admire the way Marching Mind strike the fine balance between complexity and immediancy/accessibility. Itīs not as easy as it may sound.

Featuring a rich, warm and organic sound production the album comes off as highly professional and Iīm actually quite impressed by how well sounding the album is considering the fact that this is a debut album by a relatively unknown act.

"Marching Mind" is upon conclusion a great album in almost every aspect. Professional and well sounding production, strong musicianship and intriguing compositions. The fact that itīs a debut album only further enhances my admiration for the band. Few are able to produce albums this strong in their first try. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved.

Report this review (#756999)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | Review Permalink

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