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WITHER DOWN

Monarch Trail

Neo-Prog


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Monarch Trail Wither Down album cover
3.82 | 41 ratings | 8 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Wither Down (10:53)
2. Echo (5:59)
3. Canyon Song (6:32)
4. Waves of Sound (11:00)
5. Megalopolitana (15:18)
6. All Kinds of Futures (6:47)

Total Time 56:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Ken Baird / piano, keyboards, vocals, composer
- Kelly Kereliuk / guitar
- Steve Cochrane / acoustic guitar
- Dino Verginella / bass
- Chris Lamont / drums

Releases information

Cover: Annette Roche
Format: CD, Digital
October 15, 2021

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MONARCH TRAIL Wither Down ratings distribution


3.82
(41 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
27%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (27%)
27%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

MONARCH TRAIL Wither Down reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The third installment from Canada's Monarch Trail marks perhaps their strongest album todate. With music as majestic as the cover art , this band really pull out a beauty here on Wither Down! Ken Baird (vocals and keyboards) has always had the symphonic tendencies in his music and you can hear his touch throughout this album....piano..synths and even recorder. Dino and Chris lay down some solid prog chops along the journey and adding in a few guest guitarists too (Steve Cochrane and Kelly Kereliuk). Musically this album has some of Monarch Trails strongest songs with MEGALOPOLITANA landing as my favourite song ! If you are a fan of IQ, Marillion. Mike Oldfield and in general symphonic rock, then Wither Down may just be your next album to purchase !.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Four years have gone by since the Monarch last left a Trail in the world of Prog, slowly emerging from the pandemic lockdown, fully stretching its wings, and taking liberating flight once again. Funny how stressful situations can inspire some (not all) artists to go deeper, further, and farther than ever before in the Olympic struggle to stimulate their muse and come up with some quality art. I cannot help noticing that besides clean and sterile hands, the lockdown has given inspiration a whole new dimension, a lot of soul searching with little to no (outside) distraction that may induce complacency or routine.

Ken Baird has awoken from the long hiatus and has worked on a follow-up third Monarch Trail album, the previous two having been very well received in Progland. I am sure that the surrounding beauty of Dundas, Ontario is most influential in massaging the muse, as this third opus clearly deviates from the Neo-prog labelling, as it is deliberately more symphonic in scope and texture. Ken has elevated his piano playing to glorious heights, using this most classical of keyboard instruments to set the melodic foundation of this compositions. Yes, it is very much ivory centric, but his faithful crew still supply the needed dynamics on guitars, bass, and drums, in order to flesh out the arrangements. Hello Dino, Chris, Kelly and Steve!

The opening title track has a running time of nearly 11 minutes (a bit beyond the neo time frame), setting the tone right from the opening notes, no holds barred. The piece just blooms brightly, led by that limpid and vivacious piano, picking up pace and delivering some lovely performances (Dino' s reptilian bass especially) along the way. Ken's vocal differs from the norm, strangely fragile and pained, as per the sorrowful lyrical foresight of the pandemic era but Ken informs me of the following: . "For sure, people will interpret it any way they want no matter what I say and of course that's kind of the whole point with songs, but I also like to say what happened, that it was all done just before covid. I mean JUST before too, I finished the lyrics and vocals off in Jan/Feb of 2020 and then covid hit in March. It was kind of weird!"

Two 6-minute pieces are up next, a more guitar dominated orientation as Kelly Kereliuk's axe sets the mood, with swerving motifs of varying contrasts, whistling synths and complex twists and turns. The lyrics hint at the 'condition' : " Trials of our lives , Laughing up our woes Sounds far away Of Engines and horns, Echo will still remain if we try And keep us still here if only time could be alive" Nice? "Canyon Song" is a plaintive lament at the start, offering an almost Genisisian feel, with Ken' brittle vocals until Kelly lets the guitar rip. After the fury, the serenity of a sweeping solitary and extended synth line, with partners bass and drums in tow, keeps the intensity palpable and dramatic.

Another 2 epic tracks follow, as the powerful mellotron introduces the forlorn "Waves of Sound" as well as tossing in a few French lyrics into the mix (real Canadian, eh?), a brooding melancholia that takes its sweet time in developing, blossoming slowly into a long carpet of moods and echoes, the piano solo rising over the mellotron waves is a thing of utter splendour. Very tasty indeed.

"Megalopolitana" is not only the leviathan piece here clocking in just over 15 minutes, but also the signature piece from this release, as it clearly hits all the pleasure nodes. Opening jazzy notes, breezy voices that evolve into a rather elongated foray into all kinds of areas of sonic delight, highlighted by a lovely parping and bombastic synth motif, straight out of the Tony Banks school of how to play a lead synthesizer, using emotion, grandeur, atmosphere, and passion. Kelly goes on an extended guitar rant of the finest vintage, expressively insistent yet highly expressive. Throw in a vocal section, a tremendous acoustic guitar showcase from Steve Cochrane and a final moody flourish, voila! This could have been a fine Anthony Phillips style epic! Easily one of Ken's finest compositions!

A sweet 6 minute + finale puts this one to bed, "All Kinds of Futures" (please notice the double plural) and seals the deal for me, as the liquid piano glides majestically across from one speaker to another, a faultless instrumental that also features French Horn, and Penny Whistle, loads of 'tron, bass, guitar and drums. Love it!

So very happy to see you back on the grid, easily one of the finest Canadian prog artists around. I urge you all to take the Monarch Trail, and if you stay in small groups, you won't even need a mask!

4.5 shrivelled behinds (not what you think , you lewd people)

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the third studio album from MONARCH TRAIL and the best so far in my opinion. And how about that striking cover art and I'm guessing that's Lake Ontario. Ken Baird is the leader, composer, lyricist, vocalist and keyboardist of this trio which includes bass(Dino Verginella) and drums(Chris Lamont). Most of the guitar parts are done by Steve Cochrane and Kelly Kereliuk like on the first two albums. My first spin was a really good experience as it seems like it's been a while since I've heard some good Symphonic music with a lot of synths. This doesn't always work for me but I enjoyed this whole album from start to finish, it's very consistent. The opener "Wither Down" certainly stood out for me from that first listen along with "Waves Of Sound" and they continue to be the top two tracks for me personally. There's something about Ken's voice that I have liked from back in his solo days. The singing along with those GENESIS flavours that pop up once in a while from either the synths or vocals just make me feel that all is well on planet Earth at least for the 56 1/2 minutes of listening to this album.

"Wither Down" opens with piano melodies only but soon bass, drums and synths roll in as the piano fades out. Very uplifting stuff and GENESIS comes to mind with those synths when it settles back. Piano only once again and this happens again later. Man that piano is inspiring. Vocals don't arrive until after 3 minutes setup by the solo piano. Worth the wait. I like that slight change before 5 minutes as it slows down but becomes more determined including the vocals. Back to previous themes then waves of synths end it. Great track! "Echo" is surprisingly uptempo early and when it settles it really reminds me of GENESIS even Ken's vocals. Contrasts will continue. "Canyon Song" is a highlight. Melancholic with piano, atmosphere and reserved vocals early on. I like the guitar solo after 3 minutes as the vocals step aside. A spacey calm arrives before it kicks back in.

"Waves Of Sound" is 11 minutes of bliss. Synths come in waves as distant vocals join in with beats and bass. Just love the sound of this one! How majestic and beautiful does this sound after 4 minutes as the piano plays over top with drums and bass creating the base. So good! "Megalopolitana" is the longest track at over 15 minutes. Spacey to start with flute-like sounds and piano. Drums will eventually join in with bass around a minute but vocals don't arrive until after 2 minutes. I like this. Synths lead when the vocals step aside then we get an interesting guitar led section 5 minutes in. Love that heavy sound after 7 minutes. Vocals aren't back until after 9 1/2 minutes. Guitar will replace the vocals but Ken is back singing in a calm 12 minutes in. Synths then lead to the end.

"All Kinds Of Futures" is a very strong closer. Opening with keyboards tinkling away before synths join in then a full sound just before a minute. It settles back quickly though with bass, drums and synths. The tempo will continue to change. Is that organ? Yes it is followed by drums then more organ as the piano continues throughout this section at a torrid pace. First time I thought Neo was when it changes before 3 1/2 minutes. Piano only ends it.

In my opinion this is the best MONARCH TRAIL album I have heard. Getting darn close to 4.5 stars. So many highlights.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Canadian Ken Baird making his third attempt to broadcast to the world his reverence for all-things Tony Banks.

1. "Wither Down" (10:53) like something from Tony Banks' first solo album (though perhaps a bit better). The vocals are near-unlistenable--reminding me of Chris Squire's pitchy, strained, solo attempts. (15.5/20)

2. "Echo" (5:59) a little more complexity here. (8/10)

3. "Canyon Song" (6:32) Not seeing any above-average quality or creativity here. (7.75/10)

4. "Waves of Sound" (11:00) pretty but seems to exist solely for the purpose of placing the listener into a Mellotron coma (which can be a very pleasant place to be). Love the treated vocal, French lyrics, and free-walking bass. (16.75/20)

5. "Megalopolitana" (15:18) Kudos for Ken's sidemen for doing their best to breathe some life into this one. Some of the instrumental activity is rather interesting. The vocals (and lyrics) weigh it down (again). (24.25/30)

6. "All Kinds of Futures" (6:47) To give Ken some credit: He is one of the more gifted Tony Banks imitators--as well as one of the more spot-on Genesis re-creators. (12.25/15)

Total Time 56:29

A collection of very pretty music that sounds exactly like most of the TONY BNAKS/GENESIS-worshipping Neo Prog coming out in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Competent, rich in full keyboard sound, and pleasantly melodic but, ultimately, too derivative/imitative--and poor sound quality.

C/three stars; a nice collection of pretty exhibitions of Tony Banks worship that could be relegated to the "collectors only" pile were it not for their competency in Genesis recreation.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Review # 115 MONARCH TRAIL: Wither Down (2021) I discovered Monarch Trail with the release of their 2nd album, Sand. It was a good album, but in my opinion not as good as Wither Down, their latest one. (Still I haven't heard their debut one though, in order to be able to compare all 3 of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2668191) | Posted by The Jester | Monday, January 3, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars MONARCH TRAIL is releasing this 3rd album at the end of the year, a Canadian neo-prog group that had passed through the cracks of my musical net, good returns thanks to the networks and I immerse myself in their discography, thinking of IQ for the synths, MARILLION for the atmosphere, the rest I ... (read more)

Report this review (#2655895) | Posted by alainPP | Monday, December 27, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Monarch Trail is a musical project by Canadian multi-instrumentalist/singer Ken Baird. This third album Wither Down, after Skye (2014) and Sand (2017), is my first musical encounter with this the trio (also featuring drummer Chris Lamont and bass player Dino Verginella), completed with guest gui ... (read more)

Report this review (#2635602) | Posted by TenYearsAfter | Saturday, November 20, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars MONARCH TRAIL is probably the finest Canadian exponent of retro-sounding progressive rock music. For the unaware, their new album 'Wither Down' is recently out. And what an impressive offer it is! In fact, this particular item should evoke memories of the days most people have thought were long ... (read more)

Report this review (#2631933) | Posted by Second Endeavour | Monday, November 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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