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It Bites - Map of the Past CD (album) cover


It Bites

Crossover Prog

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4 stars From a promo copy.

Well i was expecting a new work from this experienced band....the New It Bites ..

A continuing of their Tall Ships work.

Tall Ships has a lot of "hits" like songs..very high moments.

Tall Ships was a little more pop prog rock...with some repetitive chorus in most songs.

This album is more melancholic ..with more ballads ...sometimes crossover prog sometimes prog related .

The pop prog rock remains and with very good songs as Wallflower ,Clocks,Flag ,No Flowers ..the Stream and Last Escape...the higher moments.

So good quality AOR prog rock remains here .

Maybe It Bites is not for fans of Art Classic Prog Rock but of course this is enjoyable when you would like to listen to some lighter prog rock.

Report this review (#668055)
Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a very interesting album. After being away for four years It Bites return with their follow- up concept album 'Map of the Past'. However, this sounds more like a follow-up to Kino's album 'Picture' than It Bites 'The Tall Ships'. Now, I know John Mitchell was a big part of Kino as well, so there are bound to be some similarities but that's just my initial impression of the 'feel' of the album!

On first listen I wasn't hugely impressed. But, as is often the case, with really great and enduring albums, this album really grows on you. I mean it REALLY grows on you! It's a big step forward from 'Tall Ships'. This album really flows. It has kept my ears busy for the last six hours. Like, I've played it virtually non-stop for the last six hours. Frankly it is awesome and it just grows in stature the more you listen to it. So shame on those who rated it so low! You've got to really listen to it, because, honestly, it is a really great album and I love it. I can't say if it is a masterpiece just yet. But if it is still engaging me in six months time then I will be coming back to change this rating from a very, very good four stars to an irrevocable five stars, Mr Progarchives Guidelines Police!

Favourite tracks for me at the moment are 'The Big Machine' and 'Meadow and the Stream'. 'Send no Flowers' is a real nod to Genesis as well. Hell, the whole album is great so go and buy it!

Edit: I'm still listening to it and it's still absolutely brilliant. Here's that fifth star.

Report this review (#708596)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Neo prog bands from the 80s. Some are still talked about even today. There definitely has been a resurgent among the nostalgic prog scene in the past few years. With bands like Twelfth Night, IQ and even the head of the neo prog movement, Marillion being stronger than ever, one of the oddest bands to appear back was It Bites.

Now these guys had success with a song in the 80s called Calling All Heroes. They faded away and had moments, but with there last album, The Tall Ships, they really made a statement, cause the album is amazing.

I really loved the last album and this one needed to be really amazing to have me favour this album over the last. And yea, this is probably going to beat it. But just by a fraction.

I mean it, this album is basically perfect. These guys are spectacular song writers. Also, this being a concept album, makes the songs even more impressive.

The concept of the album is mainly based around nostalgia, with lyrics dealing with childhood, war, death, family and even some simple fanatical stories. The concept really gives the album a magical skin around the surface, and only makes the album more enjoyable. Lyrically, the album is just amazing and very impressive. John Mitchell's lyrics, and his vocals are just spectacular. I would even like to admit that John Mitchell is one of the best vocalists out at the moment.

The album also sounds very modern. I know this band have been around for a bit, but it sounds like these dudes are only in there 20's, yet they all are in there 30's-50's. For a band to sound so that's impressive.

The song arrangements also differ to the songs found on The Tall Ships. The songs are a lot more shorter and compact. Sadly I would have liked to have seen one or 2 epics on the album, but the 2 longest songs (being only 6 minutes) are pretty cool short epics.

Instrumentally, the band is flawless. The songs are pop songs at heart, but have smart intricate moments and some very impressive almost virtuostic moments. The band may be a pack of ugly old todgers, but they really can play and sing their hearts out.

The production of the album is as usual, spectacular. John Mitchell is a producer in his own right, and most albums I've heard him produce have been top notch.

There really isn't a bad moment on this album. Some songs are stronger than others yes, but there really isn't any weak moments. The songwriting on this album is top notch.

1. Man In The Photograph - A beautiful almost harmonium sounding intro. Great start to the album. The radio sounds give the song the added nostalgia. 9/10

2. Wallflower - Can't think of a better way to kick off the album. Definitely one of the catchiest songs on the album. The song also has one of the most mental keyboard solos I've heard in a long time. 10/10

3. Map Of The Past - A great chorus and some amazing songwriting. The song has a very Biffy Clyro feel about it, mixed with some Rush sounding intricacies. 9/10

4. Clocks - A beautiful ballad on the album. Great arrangement and some great vocals on the song. 10/10

5. Flag - One of those songs where the verses have more of an impact than the chorus' do. A very cheerful song. 9/10

6. The Big Machine - One of the most kick ass songs on the album. Has quite a dark tone to it, but still has that It Bites melodic cheeriness. 9/10

7. Cartoon Graveyard - The intro of this song is so suspenseful, with the use of a music box sound (I'm a sucker for music boxes). The rest is really an epic build up of a song. Short and sweet, and amazing. 10/10

8. Send No Flowers - Ok...this song has one of the most epic intros I have heard in a song. The song reminds me of early Genesis, being quite a dramatic song, with build ups and some cool vocal moments. 10/10

9. Meadow & The Stream - The lyrics of this song make me laugh. The song itself is pretty cool, and the instrumental work is pretty impressive. 10/10

10. The Last Song - A beautiful ballad. The vocal arrangements in the song really is amazing, and the song itself is just a very beautiful and moving songs. 10/10

11. Exit Song - A nice little ending to the album. 7/10

CONCLUSION: It's pretty much a flawless album. I knew this was going to be good, and when this album finished, I was surprised at how good it actually was. These songs are now gonna be stuck in my head for a long time, and now these guys have made 2 superb masterpieces, I'm looking forward to whatever they are going to throw at me next.


Report this review (#776706)
Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second album from the reinvigorated It Bites is not as immediate as its predecessor, the brilliant Tall Ships, but repeated plays really show this as an album of rare brilliance. The haunting opening of Man in the Photograph segues into the punchy Wallflower with some keyboard acrobatics from Beck underpinned with solid bass and guitar. Map of the Past is the band in Bombastic overload with its big chorus and chunky riffs. Mitchells Guitar truly soars here. It also contains the best lyric of the album "what seperates from Chimpanzees is finite sense of Dignity". Clocks is the big ballad of the album with its swaying rhythm and beautifully understated musicianship from the entire band. Mitchells vocal style suits this type of song like a velvet glove. Flag is old school it bites, poppy, bright keyboards and singalong chorus ensure this is going to be a live favourite. A change of pace with Big Machine, a Progtastic little gem allowing beck and , in particular, Bob Dalton to shine. Theres also a trademark Mitchell piece of Guitar genius thrown in for good measure. Cartoon Graveyard fizzes and tumbles, briefly shakes hand with Genesis, and runs into Send No Flowers which limps along like a wounded animal and should have been put out of its misery on the cutting room floor.Standout track, Meadow and the Stream, is beautiful,chilling and nigh on perfect. We end with the emotional, heartbreaking Last Escape with one of those wonderfully stirring Mitchell solos and a final acoustic farewell. The whole album is held together by Daltons' superb drumming and Pomeroys understated bass. Just missing out on album of the year so far due to freak genius and clockwork angels
Report this review (#801727)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars It Bites goes conceptual

Upon hearing the news that It Bites was releasing a concept album, I was naturally intrigued. Especially so as their previous album, The Tall Ships, the first album by the re-formed band, had been such a strong one. Map Of The Past was released earlier this year and I got it shortly after its release date. I gave it about one and a half listen at the time, concluding that it was rather disappointing. I let it rest for a while. Hearing it again now my impression is slightly more positive, but it is clear that it does fall far behind the excellent The Tall Ships.

While there is nothing bad as such about this album, it just fails to impress me. The songs are generally short and catchy, and the conceptual nature of the album does not manage to push it much beyond good quality, sophisticated Pop Rock music. It might be objected that this is what It Bites is all about. In a way it is, of course, but previous albums where musically somewhat more ambitious to my ears. There is no doubt that the current line-up consist of highly talented musicians, and they have written a decent set of tunes, but the end result is not an album that demands or even deserves many listens. It is an enjoyable listen while it lasts, but I have no desire to return to it and most probably won't.

There are some good moments, but nothing too special. It is not their worst album, but certainly not the best.

Good, but far from essential.

Report this review (#868155)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars It Bites went with the large concept on this release, it was a bit of a shock for me to see such a band release a concept album (and my I say that this album has a bite to it? Ok... fine).

Anyways, the lack of an epic on this concept album will take away from this a bit. Thankfully this album has some of both John Mitchell's best guitar playing and vocals, and John Beck's best solos. The lyrics are very compelling and of course concept based. It is very hard for me to say that this is their best album but it's a very good album overall. This has a hard hitting opener and equally hard hitting outro piece. For a concept album, the themes of the second World War, and the emotion driven songwriting works. This is a very well realized concept album, it is very well written, great effects, great production, and great playing from all musicians. From 'Man In The Photograph' to 'Exit Song', all the pieces are very emotion driven, and I will stand by this album. I'll be honest though, I think this album should've ended off with 'The Last Escape', it's a very solid song with a hard hitting lyrics, the music is very well written and emotional, but again I feel that this album ended twice. 'The Last Escape' and 'Exit Song' end each other off, but even if that's the case, this album is still very good.

Conclusion: This is probably the second best album by the band, it has everything a concept album should have. It Bites has been growing for a long time and I think that this was the best idea for the band, releasing a large concept album to show they are a top notch Neo-Prog band. Good job It Bites, you guys made a very good album indeed, one of the best in 2012.

Report this review (#2402855)
Posted Sunday, May 17, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars The remastered reissues of the two John Mitchell-led It Bites albums is a timely reminder of just how good these releases were when they came out in 2008 and 2012 respectively. Not that I needed reminding ? they are amongst my most played albums over the last decade or so. As a result, this music remains fresh, vibrant and contemporary to this day.

It was a bold step for It Bites to reform many years after the iconic Francis Dunnery moved on to fresh pastures. Recruiting long-time fan John Mitchell on vocals and guitar was a masterstroke, and whilst some of the original fanbase would only ever accept the return of Francis himself to the fold, most were encouraged by John's experience with a range of bands (Arena, Frost*, Kino, etc.), his vocal style, virtuoso guitar playing and love of prog with a strong melodic content. With John Beck adding his magic on the keyboards and Bob Dalton providing the driving beat, the combination built on some positive live performances and transferred itself into the studio.

Map of the Past (2012) was released several years after The Tall Ships (see review), and whilst retaining the popular and accessible feel of that album, it is a more mainstream prog release with both complexity and shifting themes and also a general concept concerning a revisiting of the Mitchell's family past through photographs and memories and the role that fate and events stamp on our futures. The Edwardian period and the demands of the First World War on the common man are there in the atmosphere the album generates. It is an excellent, focused, album steeped in heavy melancholy and poignancy despite once again having some very catchy melodies, humour and insights throughout. Bass guitarist par excellence Lee Pomeroy joined for this release (Mitchell and Beck handled the bass duties on the previous album) and does a fine job, combining well with Bob Dalton rhythmically throughout the tracks.

The atmospheric Man in the Photograph starts the album and sets the wistful tone perfectly as the radio dialling reveals the sounds of the past, but then Wallflower powers in with a driving guitar riff followed up by keyboard runs to wake us up. Map of the Past is an uplifting and sincere return to the album concept, with another memorable lyrical theme. Clocks and Flag are fine precursors to one of the undoubted highlights of the album, the thunderous The Big Machine, with Dalton's drums kicking off full ensemble playing ? and setting an ominous tone that will be revisited before the end.

Cartoon Graveyard is unbearably catchy, from the gentle vocal introduction, the staccato guitar riffing, flowing keyboards and memorable sing-along chorus. There is even a touch of Supper's Ready keyboards and percussion towards the end for prog-heads to identify. However, the sombre, ironic tone returns for Send No Flowers with its sardonic lyrical edge, and the contemplative, but also highly melodic, Meadow and the Stream. The gradual sad, pensive sense of loss that has been building up is summed up by the epic, piano-led ballad The Last Escape, as our journey into the past takes in the sinking of the Titanic ? with not a dry eye in the house, supported by the brief words of Exit Song, rounding things off. Unlike The Tall Ships, where every song is very much a stand-alone effort, Map of the Past works best when listened to in one full sitting, in my view. As a result, its charms reveal themselves more slowly, but for many, maybe for longer.

Once again, the two bonus outtake tracks, Lighthouse and Come On, are nice additions rather than essential works, but the former flows pleasantly and the latter has some meaty and edgy swirling guitar and keyboards which should be prog-enough for any It Bites fan.

For many out there who still treasure the original releases, the question is whether purchasing the reissues is worth doing. I would say undoubtedly yes. The bonus tracks are fun, but it is the sonic upgrading and fresh sparkle and polish the albums exhibit which is the real bonus. Even with these old ears, I can see the benefits of the remastering process and the whole quality of the CD packaging (and vinyl versions), with new linear notes included, make these two reissues more than worthy of your pennies!

John Mitchell maintained the impetus from the It Bites reboot with the four wonderful Lonely Robot releases, but the rumours that another It Bites album could be released in the foreseeable future is an exciting prospect. His stunning musical interplay with John Beck remains clear to see, and hopefully the logistics (and the stars) align to allow the story to continue!

(Extract from The Progressive Aspect)

Report this review (#2581396)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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