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Mars Hollow

Crossover Prog

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Mars Hollow World In Front Of Me album cover
3.69 | 85 ratings | 11 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Walk On Alone (12:31)
2. Voices (6:23)
3. Weapon (6:52)
4. What Have I Done (5:56)
5. Mind Over Matter (2:27)
6. Prelude (1:48)
7. World In Front Of Me (11:18)

Total Time: 47:15

Line-up / Musicians

- John Baker / guitar, vocals
- Steve Mauk / keyboards, vocals
- Kerry Chicoine / bass, vocals
- Jerry Beller / drums, percussion, vocals

Releases information

CD 10T Records ‎- 10T10051 (2011, US)

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MARS HOLLOW World In Front Of Me ratings distribution

(85 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MARS HOLLOW World In Front Of Me reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by J-Man
4 stars The 2010 debut effort from Mars Hollow was considered one of the year's best by many prog rock fans, and now (just a year later) they're back with their sophomore album. With its fantastic compositions, terrific musicianship, and sleek modern sound, World in Front of Me will undoubtedly send shockwaves through the prog rock community once again. Fans of seventies-influenced prog rock that aren't hesitant to the newer generation of symphonic prog should find plenty to love here. Mars Hollow has proven their worth with this outstanding album; this is surely among the best releases I've heard this year.

Mars Hollow plays a style of symphonic prog with influences from Spock's Beard, Yes, and especially Kansas. Right from the very beginning of "Walk on Alone" it's clear that Mars Hollow has given classics like Leftoverture and Close to the Edge more than a few spins. Mars Hollow does wear their influences on their sleeves, but I wouldn't necessarily consider that a detriment when one considers how spectacular every aspect of the music itself is. For one, the musicianship is excellent across the board. The lush keyboard work from Steve Mauk, the excellent guitar playing from John Baker, the Chris Squire-esque bass playing from Kerry Chicoine, and Jerry Beller's top-notch drumwork all make for an excellent-sounding group. The vocal department of Mars Hollow is also excellent; every band member contributes their pipes here, creating some great vocal harmonies that hint towards the likes of Spock's Beard or The Flower Kings.

World in Front of Me was produced by Billy Sherwood and mastered by David Javu Morse, so expect an extremely professional-sounding album. The bass playing from Kerry Chicoine is extremely commanding (as it should be) and the keyboards and vocals are mixed perfectly. The overall sound comes across as a bit thin to me (especially in the drum department), but it should still undoubtedly please most prog fans.

It seems that Mars Hollow have crafted another winner with their sophomore album; World in Front of Me should make many "best of 2011" lists and keep progressive rock fans satisfied for years to come. These guys are becoming one of the biggest forces in the modern prog rock scene, and World in Front of Me is a defining statement that every fan of the genre should further investigate. If you like your prog rock to be extremely complex and seventies-oriented, yet still fresh and accessible, this is an essential purchase. 4 stars are well deserved for this terrific album. 10T Records has definitely chalked up another winner!

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mars Hollow "World in Front of Me" is the sophomore offering from this Symphonic/hard rock band from LA. This time around they are in the capable hands of producer engineer Billy Sherwood. While the band admits the first album was bit more disjointed in its conception this one flows completely like a well painted landscape.

The band is very tight and has a great chemistry together. The bass(Kerry Chicoine) and drums(Jerry Beller) complement each other so well while not glued at the hip and provide a great foundation for the other layers of the band Guitarist (John Baker) and Keyboards (Steve Mauk) who add some very tasteful colorings that neither are overpowering nor understated (that is a very hard thing to do btw). The vocals of John Baker are interesting and while not having a lot of dynamic range certainly is enough fill up that needed portion of the music. To be honest I am not a huge fan of Jon Anderson nor Geddy Lee's overall vocals but certainly respect what they do in my opinion John falls into this category. I love the fact you can understand what he is singing and he delivers very memorable vocal lines. Now to the music!

The CD starts off with Walk on Alone that sets the tone for the rest of the CD a sort of 12 minute overture. It starts off with an acappella vocal that reminds me of Kansas and breaks immediately into a an energetic instrumental part that sounds like so much great American prog rock it has to make you smile. It is like all the good bands rolled up into one. My favorite part of it comes around the 5:30 minute mark with a dissonant synth line that breaks into a great gallop. Spock's Beard meets Kansas.

Voices is really diverse song. Disturbing in the lyrics and dark musical backdrop for the vocal but has some outstanding musical swells that then crash back into the dark vocal. Somehow the things you wish Pink Floyd had done sometimes.

That brings us from Voices to Weapons (sense a theme here boys and girls? The next song is called What Have I Done) this one has little quirky vocal line I seem very attracted to for some reason. Some really cool analog synth patches in the solo and great grooves laid down by Chicone and Beller throughout the song. The internal struggle continues in What Have I Done as the music goes from a quite introspective self examination at the beginning to a violent explosion of realization to close out the song with the question what have I done to end up like this being the key line. I am complete sucker for songs like this.

Mind over Matter is a ballad that sort of transitions the listener to final piece(s) of the CD. Unfortunately while well played and sung it really is not memorable to this listener and almost seems incomplete. The melody is good but a bit underdeveloped. This could have been better (In my best Chef Ramsey voice).

The final two pieces that round out the CD are Prelude and World in Front of Me. Prelude is a solo piano piece by Mauk who does a very good job of moving from one theme to another that also moves into the opening of World in Front of Me. I am sure this is how it plays live. Tthe opening few minutes are sort of physecdelic intro to the vocal that brings us out of the depths of despair from a few songs ago to the hope of the new day ahead of us. The music almost is a reprise of some themes from the Walk on Alone but not really. It is more the resolution of that song as the subject resolves to come back from the setback to get back to their life. A very common theme for many of us really and most of us can relate to this.

All in all a solid offering from a solid band. To be truthful Mars Hallow is not breaking any new musical ground but neither are they regressing into sounding exactly like something else. They take their influences and mold them into something they can call their own and they do it competently and lead you on a great journey. I love the fact they didn't cram everything on here to get to 1.5 hours on the CD. This is 47 pretty satisfying minutes. Better to leave people wanting more than give them too much. Finally, Kudos to Billy Sherwood's work on the production this thing is an eargasam with headphones on. I don't think Mars Hollow will walk alone very much with products like this. You have made lots of friends. Great Job! 4 Stars

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'World In Front Of Me' - Mars Hollow (8/10)

Hitting the scene last year with their self-titled debut, Mars Hollow has been the object of some acclaim and word-of-mouth advertising around the prog rock community. With a highly melodic, somewhat modern take on prog, Mars Hollow has a promising sound to them, and they have took no time to churn out a second album. 2011's 'World In Front Of Me' has been hailed as an even greater piece of work than the first, and with that, my curiosity was sparked. When I have high expectations for a band, all too often I will be left disappointed by the music, wondering why they were so hyped up in the first place. With Mars Hollow however, there is something really exciting at work. Although I would not go so far as to say that the band has an entirely original sound, Mars Hollow's very melodic and catchy, yet complex style of rock music keeps me coming back.

There will be some obvious comparisons made to neo-prog and symphonic legends like Marillion or Kansas, but to me, Mars Hollow most echoes the mid-career sounds of Rush. The charismatic higher-register vocals remind me greatly of Geddy Lee or Jon Anderson, and the instrumentation is a nice combination of old and new, making use of vintage synthesizer sounds, but paired with guitars that do not sound out of place in modern rock. Perhaps the best thing about Mars Hollow is the fact that in a genre that is infamous for displacing melodies, they often focus their songwriting around it. Many of the songs here have catchy choruses that will have a listener nonchalantly humming along to them before the song is finished. Greatest among these is the catchy single-worthy 'Weapon', which while not being the finest that 'World In Front Of Me' has to offer, is easily the most memorable, featuring a vocal chorus that only intensive electro shock treatments would be able to erase from my mind.

While the middle of the album focuses more on Mars Hollow's more concise songwriting, the highlights here are the two longer songs here, which bookend the record. 'Walk On Alone' and the title track maintain the melodies that Mars Hollow leans upon so heavily, but there's also a supplemental focus on the band's work as instrumentalists, where they hop off on proggy arrangements. The guitars are doused in helpings of jazz, and the bass work of Kerry Chicoine is always impressive, crafting interesting lines even while the guitars are in full swing. The drums do not have a great deal variety of sound to them, but Jerry Beller really tears them apart during the band's instrumental segments. Steve Mauk's keyboard work gives the band their vintage sound, focusing on accentuating many of the guitar parts, save for the solos, where Mauk's tastefully melodic synth work takes the centerstage. Possibly the best part about Mars Hollow however are the vocal harmonies, which the band is certainly not afraid to use. Although the lead vocals are always at the forefront, all members here sing, and they create lush arrangements that make the melodies shine brightly.

Mars Hollow does not yet have the original sound to them or challenging arrangements that could thrust them into the realm of mastery, but with 'World In Front Of Me', they have proven to me that they are near the front of the modern prog rock scene. And assuming they keep up this rate of releasing a new album every year, I am really excited to see what lies in wait for this excellent band.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Judging from all the positive reviews i've seen across the net for this album I might be the only one to give this a 3 star review on this site. But hey that's fine by me, these guys deserve all this positive feedback. I was really bowled over by their debut (4.5 stars) and I must admit my expectations were high for this one, especially with so many people saying this was even better. I guess this just proves there no accounting for taste. Billy Sherwood is the producer this time around. I wish I could explain what it is specifically that makes this a 3 star record for me. I like it but it's just not clicking at all like the debut and i've listened to this one plenty of times.Go figure ?

"Walk On Alone" is quite the opener that for me gets off on the wrong foot with the acapella singing.That changes quickly though as it kicks in with the drums and keys standing out.The chunky bass is prominant before 1 1/2 minutes. It settles back as the vocals arrive. Some brief processed vocals after 8 1/2 minutes as it stays relaxed sounding.The instrumental section that follows is more powerful, then the vocals return after 10 minutes. Bass and organ standout late.

"Voices" settles quickly with vocals but it picks up again. An uptempo instrumental section comes in at 2 1/2 minutes with organ. I like the synths and drums 5 minutes in.

"Weapon" has a good intro then we get a calm with vocals. It picks back up and the organ comes in.Vocals are back 5 minutes in. "What Have I Done" has some nice sounding bass in this relaxed intro. Reserved vocals just before a minute. It picks up then settles back as contrasts continue. A good synth led instrumental passage ends it.

"Mind Over Matter" features vocals and a laid back guitar melody. Melancholic synths replace the vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. "Prelude" is another short track but this one has piano throughout.

"World In Front Of Me" has some good guitar before 2 1/2 minutes then the vocals follow.The bass is again prominant and we even get some vocal melodies at one point. Piano before 6 1/2 minutes then it builds. Guitar leads after 10 minutes.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic but at least their debut will always have a place in my rotation.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars MARS HOLLOW took only one year to release their sophomore album. It features seven songs with a length of 48 minutes. If someone wants to have a clue about stylistical similarities, I would name Presto Ballet, IZZ or Kansas, but please don't take this too seriously. They sound rather unique, to make it clear. Musicianship is great overall, especially bass player Kerry Chicoine and guitarist John Baker who are excellent vocalists on top of it. Keyboardist Steve Mauk acts a bit restrained, others will say not overpowering. Jerry Beller's drums and the bass guitar fairly complement each other and care for the necessary drive.

So the band play very compact and lively. There's some room for (short) instrumental solo excursions either. That said both guitarists have their special moments on the excellent epic Walk On Alone which lyrically seems to reflect some relationship problems. Voices convinces me with its special sense of melody and a strong symphonic appeal. 'Weapon in my hand' ... the following song showcases a catchy refrain, evidently dedicated to appeal to a regular rock music fan with hit potential? No, I won't say that this ever was their intention because this is combined with a tricky structure to something entertaining moreover.

World In Front Of Me is the second to cross the ten minute mark, again provided with a catchy refrain. Overall this comes close to the Flower Kings somehow, keyboards are prominant, great dynamics, some groovy parts - a nice workout. This album has become shorter as the debut, in any case a proper effort from this US quartet, as for the initial three songs and the title track substantial really. Symphonic and AOR elements are nicely put together in order to reach for highly melodic songs. Billy Sherwood has a finger in the pie here when it comes to the production - 3.5 stars

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US band MARS HOLLOW is based in Southern California and made quite a splash when they released their debut album in 2010. One year later they have been booked for and performed at festivals in the US and Mexico, having had a handful or so additional concert opportunities, and have managed to write, record and now release a new album as well. This, their latest, excursion is called "World in Front of Me", and as with their previous CD it was issued by the US label 10t Records.

Strong melodies set within a compositional context harking back to 70's art rock in general and symphonic progressive rock in particular are, I think, a neat summary of what Mars Hollow has to offer, performed with joy, liberally flavored with positive moods and harmonic details. Nothing groundbreaking, but a charming production that should find favor amongst many who tend to look back to the 70's as the golden age of rock music.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 really

Mars Hollow from USA and their second offer from 2011 World in front of me created a good blend between prog moments with melodic aprach almost pop arrangements. There are some very nice vocal lines and quite strong melodies and catchy parts, the opening 12 min plus track Walk On Alone is excellent and sets the mood for the entire album. I like that the sound and atmosphere are joyful , the musicinship is great, each one bringing the best they have. I very nice release for me and a pleasent listning from start to finish. Billy Sherwood is also present here with the production. For fans of Spock's Beard and specially those who have a more melodic aproach in their prog sound.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Brilliant 2nd studio album from this North-Americam band. In spite of the obivious influences from the master of progressive-rock of the 70's, such as, YES, GENESIS, EL&PALMER, GENTLE GIANT, RUSH and their countrymen from KANSAS, they get put in their music a certain "smell" of modern music an ... (read more)

Report this review (#627029) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, February 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am tempted to copy Jon Landau's famous "I have seen the future of rock'n'roll at it is called Bruce Springsteen" line in a gig review back in 1975 as the opening salvo on this review. But if I started this review with that borrowed line, it would sound like a cheap cliche. But I think you ... (read more)

Report this review (#470630) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, June 27, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When last we gathered, less than one year ago, I suggested that Mars Hollow was writing progressive rock film scores and that they had the address of our mind's eye. Since that time the band has written and recorded the remarkable "World In Front of Me" (10t Records), a more polished and assured as ... (read more)

Report this review (#468847) | Posted by rustedsynapse | Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's not often that you can find a band that releases very good, consistent albums. Mars Hollow, though, is one of those bands that have kept it up in their sophomore release. After the release of their self titled debut, which received very high acclaim, they have come around again and produced ... (read more)

Report this review (#459376) | Posted by The Block | Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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