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Merchants Vice biography
Flighty keyboard solos ala Clive Nolan, a vocalist who sounds like a Nick Barrett/Paul Wrightson combination, and a strong IQ/PENDRGON/ARENA compositional flavour overall: it's hard to get any more neo-prog than MERCHANT'S VICE. The band was formed in 1997 around vocalist Les Wardle, keyboardist Mark English and drummer Chas Allen. Guitarist Nick Martin (MEDICINE MAN) later joined them alongwith bassist Kevin Rowe, who was later replaced by Paul Brown (JANISON EDGE, MEDICINE MAN).

In 2001, the band released a 3-track demo titled "A Story to Tell" and in 2003, a full-length album called "Amber" containing 8 tracks of pure neo reminiscent of PENDRAGON, IQ and especially early ARENA. Some passages also bear a little resemblance to PALLAS, GREY LADY DOWN and TWELFTH NIGHT. It is a consistent album that centers around Mark English's keyboards and Les Wardle's distinctive vocals. The guitar usually takes a back seat although Nick Martin does lash out with a fine solo here and there. An entertaining promising debut album which, btw, was mixed by Rob Aubrey, known for his work with IQ and JADIS.

Fans of IQ, PENDRAGON and especially ARENA will want to keep an eye on the VICE.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Amber by Merchants ViceAmber by Merchants Vice
Audio CD$98.89

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MERCHANTS VICE discography

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3.45 | 18 ratings

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0.00 | 0 ratings
A Story toTell


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Amber by MERCHANTS VICE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.45 | 18 ratings

Merchants Vice Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

Merchant's Vice - this neo prog band that gone under the radar will release only one album in 2003 named Amber and then gone into oblivion. The music is pleasent, the type of neo prog that I like, not boring at all, in same league, musicaly speaking with Arena, Pendragon, Medicine Man, Janison Edge, Grey Lady Down and alike. There are members from Medicine Man/Janison Edge here aswell, the bass player for example. As I said the music is good towards great, nice keyboards here very Cive Nolan in aproach and aswell the vocal parts are great, Les Wardle is a quite good neo prog singer. All in all a nice debut, but somehow they never made it in this scene, but I think they needed a far more attention. Reason to Change or Storyteller are great neo prog pieces. All in all a nice one, fans of the genre pick this up, worth every second.

 Amber by MERCHANTS VICE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.45 | 18 ratings

Merchants Vice Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A low average (2,63) for this album so far and here we have the significance of ratings as a good example. For I almost wanted to forget about this one because of this low average. And guess what: I would have missed out on an excellent piece of work and that would have been regrettable I feel. It just shows you that ratingaverages aren't always reliable and that's also because there's the phenomenon of differences in taste of course.

In a way this album reminds me of the one I reviewed yesterday, Est by Direction. One of the things I said there was that the vocals could be debatable. Well, if those were debatable, the voice of lead singer Les Wardle is even more so that's indeed a warning sign. But what this band and album have in common with Direction is that the compositions and instrumental aspects are way above par. And with Merchants Vice these are components that are even a lot better than with Direction. The songs on this album are all little masterpieces to me though it has to be said that you will have to think in neo progressive terms for that.

And that's in a nutshell the story here: if you like neo than this is an essential album in my opinion. The guitar is more than excellent and the structure of the songs is amazing. It's true that the vocals spoil a bit of the fun. Les is not a terrible singer but he has a very dominant voice and not everybody will love it. But if you can live with it then this Amber release is more than worthwhile. It's simply great and indispensable for neo fans. If you don't believe me check the stream song I would say and bear in mind that Glass Child is one of the lesser songs on the album. Four stars is therefore the least I can do and it's in fact something like 4,3 for my taste. Extremely underexplored (5 in total !!) and this band (or at least album) deserves a lot more. Highly recommended.

 Amber by MERCHANTS VICE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.45 | 18 ratings

Merchants Vice Neo-Prog

Review by claudiadiaz

3 stars I would only suggest this album to real fans of Neo Prog Rock like me,the music is solid with some feel of Pallas,Marillion and IQ.The problem with this band is the same of many bands that you would find in prog world,the singing! I would say that it is really close to Galleon,not a bad voice but no emotions and that makes the album very flat.Besides that you will find a lot of long tracks and some surprises in some of them.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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