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Mentaur Darkness Before Dawn  album cover
3.18 | 16 ratings | 4 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Day of wrath (15:00)
2. Imperiatrix (5:55)
3. Silver snakes (4:00)
4. Cracks (4:24)
5. Rainscape (5:22)
6. Chasing time (2:56)
7. Far cry (7:06)
8. Distant ways (live) (6:11)
9. The last battle (22:44)

Total Time: 73:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Robin Barter / guitars
- Carlton Evans / vocals
- Ed Lepper / drums
- Nick Ridley / bass guitar
- Tim Ridley / keyboards
- Steve Cochrane / vocals on Imperatrix & Cracks
- Jim Gross / bass guitar on Day of Wrath, Imperatrix, Silver Snakes, Cracks spoken voices on Cracks
- Dan Hart / vocals on Day of Wrath, Silver Snakes & Chasing Time

Releases information

Cyclops CYCL 033

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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MENTAUR Darkness Before Dawn ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

MENTAUR Darkness Before Dawn reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars The last battle

Here is another obscure British band who was mistreated by their times. There is very little information on the band to be found on the web, but as far I understand from the little I've found they started out calling themselves Mordred sometime in the 1980's and then changed their name to Mentaur somewhere along the line. The present CD that was released on Cyclops records in 1996 remains Mentaur's only official release and functions as a kind of "best off"- album, gathering the highlights from the band's several demos that were recorded during the 80's and 90's.

The sound of Mentaur brings to mind early Pallas, Arena, a bit of Twelfth Night, and even a touch of raw Heavy Metal. All of the nine songs are very good, but the two epics that open and close the album are especially excellent. There is a nice variation between ballads and rockers. One of the songs is a live recording, emphasizing the compilation nature of the disc. If I had been the band, I would have put this one at the end as a bonus track. The 20 minute plus, four-part suite The Last Battle, is based on the familiar legend of King Arthur and as such it is somewhere in between Kayak's Merlin suite (the excellent original version from 1981, not the musical-like re-make) and Rick Wakeman's Myths And Legends Of King Arthur. Some of the keyboard solos are indeed a bit Wakeman-like. This music is very much my cup of tea, it's a shame that such good material remains so unknown.

The sound of the drums and vocals is not perfect, but the guitars and keyboards sound good enough. This is admittedly a rough diamond, but it is indeed a diamond. Fans of the heavier and darker sides of Neo-Prog might enjoy it, as indeed did I. I initially became interested in the album just in virtue of the dark cover picture when I stumbled upon it here on PA. Needless to add, I would never have heard of this band if it wasn't for this website. A very pleasant surprise, out of nowhere.

Seemingly completely overlooked, but highly recommended!

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A really obscure British Prog act from late-80's, obviously influenced by the Neo Prog movement primarly of their existence.Mentaur started as Mordred in 1989, led by Tim Ridley (keyboards) and Nick Ridley (bass) also with Ed Lepper on drums and Robin Barter on guitars.The band changed a few singers through the years, recording several short and longer demos, until finally they disbanded in 1994.However in 1996 Cyclops showed interest in their material and released a compilation of Menatur's demos, entitled ''Darkness Before Dawn''.Most of the songs feature Carlton Evans on vocals, except for a couple sung by Steve Cochrane.

Mentaur simply turned the back on easy-listening and pleasant music and this compilation is full of dark-sounding Neo Prog with AOR and Hard Rock touches.Additionally it contains a pair of grand epics on a trully uncommercial move on their behalf.The 15-min. ''Day of Wrath'' is simply outstanding with strong ARENA and early PALLAS resemblances, swirling around groovy but rich musicianship and complex keyboard acrobatics, featuring also excellent vocals and occasionally stepping into more Metal-related grounds.Bombastic, powerful composition with very solid songwriting.The 23-min. ''The Last Battle'' is definitely the most ambitious piece written by the band.It is split in four movements and offers a haunting, epic Prog Rock along the lines of ASGARD with dramatic and expressive singing parts, symphonic instrumental textures, dark background soundscapes and flashy keyboard solos, add another winner in the list of Mentaur's material.These tracks alone make this album worth owning.The rest of this compilation consists of shorter cuts, ranging from 3 to 7 minutes, with a slightly more straight approach, still filled with memorable tunes and even demanding musicianship.The guitar work is more groovy, the choruses more easy-going and the structures of the songs rather easier, but series of impressive vocal performances, guitar solos and bombastic synths guarantee a good listening experience.

This group deserved much more than it actually got.''Darkness Before Dawn'' will have a certain appeal to all fans of dramatic Neo Prog and keyboard-led Heavy Prog, for whom it comes warmly recommended.

Latest members reviews

1 stars Marillion, Pallas or Arena influencies? No...this isn't the kind of Neoprog u're's much in heavy progres vein... The music isn't excellent....the production is very bad...there are empty moments, where u hear just drum and guitars, or where u hear just drum and keyboards, or even where ... (read more)

Report this review (#818059) | Posted by Aragon | Monday, September 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As the keyboard player and writer of the bulk of Mentaur's music, I don't suppose it's fair to self- promote, but as there's no money involved I'm going to! Thanks to SouthSideoftheSky for noticing Mentaur, languishing in prog doldroms for many years now. Once a year or so I dig out the old ... (read more)

Report this review (#642666) | Posted by Mordrydd | Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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