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MYSTERY

Neo-Prog • Canada


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Mystery biography
A project of French Canadian guitarist/lyricist/producer Michel St-Père, MYSTERY took form in 1986 as a six-member outfit. They released a self-titled album in 1992 that generated quite some interest across Canada. Unfortunately, a year later, their drummer Stéphane Perreault lost the use of both his legs; but his strong determination and passion for his craft inspired him with a new and unique approach to drumming: he became one of the first drummers to play from a wheelchair without the help of any pre-programmed sequences. In 1995, St-Père founded label Unicorn Records under which the band released a second album titled "Theater of the Mind" and which boasted airplay both in North America and Europe. In 1998, they released their last and most progressive album todate titled "Destiny?", which features six guest musicians. In 2000, a compilation CD was released that marked the end of a chapter in the band's history, as it also features their vocalist and long-time buddy Gary Savoie who has now left the band.

Over the years, MYSTERY's style has evolved from AOR (STYX, ASIA) to more adventurous art rock like that of RUSH and SAGA, but featuring delicate acoustic passages not normally heard from these two. Their music is based on St-Père's guitar play, which is well executed yet appropriately restrained, while the keyboards remain in the background. MYSTERY won't dazzle you with technical prowess but you will appreciate their strong melodies, outstanding vocals (Gary Savoie is often compared to JOURNEY's Steve Perry), elegant arrangements and attention to detail. Their compilation CD "At the Dawn of a New Millenium" is made up of remastered tracks of their three albums and is a fairly good sampler of their répertoire for those wanting to get acquainted with the band.

Recommended to fans of SAGA, KANSAS, JOURNEY, RUSH and to fans of melodic rock in general.

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

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Tales from the NetherlandsTales from the Netherlands
Import
Unicorn DIgital Inc. 2014
Audio CD$13.34
$18.06 (used)
The World is a GameThe World is a Game
Import
Unicorn Digital Inc. 2012
Audio CD$17.34
Unveil the MysteryUnveil the Mystery
Import
Unicorn Digital Inc. 2014
Audio CD$12.33
$16.14 (used)
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MYSTERY shows & tickets


  • Summer's End Festival XI on 2 Oct 2015
  • Mystery + Silhouette at Boerderij, Zoetermeer on 17 Oct 2015

MYSTERY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MYSTERY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 37 ratings
Theater of the Mind
1996
3.35 | 47 ratings
Destiny?
1998
3.77 | 127 ratings
Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face
2007
3.99 | 214 ratings
One Among the Living
2010
3.95 | 224 ratings
The World is a Game
2012

MYSTERY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.94 | 12 ratings
Tales from the Netherlands
2014

MYSTERY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MYSTERY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 11 ratings
At the Dawn of a New Millenium
2000
3.80 | 5 ratings
Unveil the Mystery
2013

MYSTERY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.70 | 10 ratings
Mystery
1992

MYSTERY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tales from the Netherlands by MYSTERY album cover Live, 2014
3.94 | 12 ratings

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Tales from the Netherlands
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Vocalist Benoit David brought plenty of attention during his time with French-Canadian progressive rock group Mystery, coming to the band all the way back in 1999, yet only making his album debut on 2007's `Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face', going on to front three of their studio albums to great approval from fans of the group. However, the singer is probably more well known for joining symphonic prog legends Yes, controversially replacing Jon Anderson between the years 2008-2012, performing lead vocals on their 2012 album `Fly From Here' as well as a singing on several tours with that band. By 2013 he was himself replaced by Glass Hammer singer Jon Davison, but it's really Yes' loss. On this double CD live set, `Tales from the Netherlands', recorded at the Boerdirij Cultuurpodium in Zoetermeer on May 10th 2013, Benoit proves what a charismatic and captivating performer with Mystery he was, and now that he has also left this group, it serves as a fitting memento of his time with the band.

For those unaware of Mystery's music, the band perform a mix of intelligent and tasteful AOR with careful progressive rock flavours, preferring to focus on well-written song structures with strong melodies. Most of the proggier instrumental flourishes are tightly incorporated around the songs, very rarely self-indulgent or trying to show off, and never at the expense of the overall tune. This double set focuses on the albums that cover Benoit's time in the group, offering a mix of more compact pieces and lengthier epics that provide a good overview of their music, and it even makes for a perfect introduction to newcomers wishing to look into the band for the first time.

While the arrangements presented here don't differ greatly from the studio versions, there's an added vibrancy and energy to their delivery, especially noticeable in the way Benoit sings with such extra clarity and confident professionalism. With a gentle and warm manner when talking to the crowd in between songs, it's this very human and likeable personality that endeared him to Mystery fans. There's plenty of highlights throughout the two discs. The introspective and compassionate `Dear Someone' and the urgent `Wolf' (love Benoit Dupuis' frantic up-tempo synth burst throughout the instrumental break in the middle!) both have catchy choruses that permanently lodge themselves in your brain - trust me, they've been swimming around in my head for years now! The reflective qualities are all still present, but many sections of the twenty minute epic `Another Day' are given a harder- hitting and more muscular strength due to Jean-Sébastian Goyette's powerhouse drumming, and there's a beautiful dreamy outro as well to close the first disc.

Highlights of the second disc are the lengthy `Pride' that flies to the heavens with Michel St- Pere's soaring guitar solos. The ethereal fragility of the chorus of `Through Different Eyes' is the closest the band come to a Jon Anderson-like moment, but the rest of the twenty-two minute epic contains some very brooding, moody thick atmospheres and a grand symphonic synth finale, in addition to Benoit really showcasing his versatile vocal range. `The Preacher's Fall' is gutsy driving AOR stomper, Francois Fournier's bass purrs throughout album closer `Between Love and Hate', but the absolute standout track here is `Travel to the Night' that mixes a stomping AOR hard rocker with smooth harmonies, IQ-like organ stabs and endless tricky instrumental runs woven throughout.

For now, Benoit appears to have taken leave from music altogether, which is a definite shame for those who enjoyed his performances, but hopefully his time away to focus on other priorities in life will prove to be a rewarding experience for him. Jean Pageau has since been announced as the new Mystery singer, set to debut on their upcoming album in 2015, so he'll definitely have a tough time proving himself as a worthy successor to Benoit! But for now, `Tales from the Netherlands' is a perfect showcase for a special era of the band, it makes for the perfect farewell to Benoit David, and is simply a fine live album from a great progressive related band.

Four stars.

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 The World is a Game by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 224 ratings

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The World is a Game
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by Kevman28

5 stars I see many people on this site came to hear of Mystery through Benoit David's brief stint with Yes. My introduction was through a review in Prog Magazine, upon the release of 'The World is a Game'. I was hunting down some new bands to try and found the accompanying interview an interesting read. A quick trial run on Youtube, and the last 3 albums were on their way in the post! (btw, purchase them from their website. You will get them far cheaper than the likes of Amazon, and even those on ebay are dearer).

So, what do we have here then? If you like beautifully crafted songs that display a ridiculously high standard of musicianship, then this is for you. If you like romantically soaring guitars, with solos akin to the likes of David Gilmour which make the hairs on your back stand up, then this is for you. Mystery give a modern feel to their style of prog. If you like a prog ballad, then this is the best you will find. I can only liken them to cross between Sound of contact, Marillion (Clutching era) and 80's Floyd.

Benoit David has often been pushed aside as a stand in Yes singer, but that has done nothing but publicise Mystery, and thrust this fantastic music into the limelight. After hearing the new Yes album last week, they really should have tried harder to stick with him. I am so very much looking forward to the next Mystery offering. Benoit will sadly not be part of it since he parted ways in late 2013, however the real talent lies with genius Michel St-Père so expect more of the same. If the new singer is half as good then it'll be awesome.

A real jewel in any prog collection, and be sure to try 'One among the living' and 'Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face', both of which are from the second phase of Mystery's discography with Benoit on vocals. Actually, don't try them, just buy them and stop wasting your own time. Fantastic stuff.

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 At the Dawn of a New Millenium by MYSTERY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2000
3.09 | 11 ratings

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At the Dawn of a New Millenium
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Summing up the first era of Mystery

I normally don't rate compilation albums, but I am always ready to make an exception if there is some previously unavailable material featured. In the case of Mystery's At The Dawn Of A New Millenium, there is only one track that I hadn't heard before. This track (Cinderella) was originally featured on the band's self-titled EP which is now unavailable. The rest of the tracks here are all taken from the two first full-length albums Theatre Of The Mind and Destiny? For those (like this reviewer) who already have both of those albums, the present compilation album is of only minor interest. And for those who don't have these two albums, I would recommend to start with them instead of this compilation album. The best place to start with Mystery is with the excellent Destiny? and then move on to Theatre Of The Mind. Only after that is it worth to acquire At The Dawn Of A New Millenium for that sole track (unless, of course, you happen to own that rare self-titled EP).

Now, Cinderella is a good song in the same style as those of Theatre Of The Mind. It is by no means exceptional, but worth hearing if you are a fan of the Gary Savoie-era of Mystery. This compilation does a good job summing up this first era of the band's career, but as most "best of"-albums, it adds little to what is already out there. It is mostly excellent music, but it is all better heard in its original context.

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 The World is a Game by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 224 ratings

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The World is a Game
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by buddyblueyes

5 stars "Mystery Solved!" Is this Mystery's Magnum Opus? The previous release "One Among The Living" was a great album, but when under a magnifying glass this album takes it up a notch with grandiose arrangements and the complimentary, organic embellishments of Nick D'Virgilio's drumming. These songs ooze experience, maturity, tasteful playing. It's an album that you can find yourself enjoying with repeated plays.

The past year this reviewer has listened to the other Neo-Prog icons like, Izz, IQ, Sylvan and Marillion, but when the iTunes player calculated what albums got played the most, "The World Is A Game" (surprisingly!) was only bested by a couple prog artists from other genres, which means the 4 stars simply can't do the album justice as a rating. Definitely one of the better Neo-Prog releases in 2012!

Michel St. Pere and Benoit David are stellar songsmiths. Benoit, who replaced Jon Anderson in the band Yes for a spell, delivers a similar tone with commanding authority. The dynamic juggernaut of rhythm is provided by Nick D'Virgilio and bassist, Antoine Fafard. Nick's drumming is a unique contrast to the calculated, focused (and sometimes clinical) drumming on the previous release and adds just the right amount of organic spice to enhance the sonic stew. Marilene Provencher-Leduc provides a compelling flute in the opening track, which leads into "Pride," a bastion of symphonic prog. The bass pedaling about 10:50 minutes into the other epic song "Another Day" should get the nod of approval from fellow bass players. The chorus to many of the songs on "The World Is A Game" have (shhh, dare I say it') even catchier and more memorable hooks as well. It's music that is provocative, exciting, serene, compelling and comforting. Something worth returning to again and again.

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 The World is a Game by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 224 ratings

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The World is a Game
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Mystery begin the listening experience on "The World is a Game" with beautiful flute and acoustic vibrations on 'A Morning Rise, and then it launches into a heavy distorted guitar ringing out and some wonderful crystalline vocals on 'Pride', an 11:28 blockbuster. The guitars are aggressive and balance out the melodic singing and grinding keyboard pads. This is a fantastic start to one of the great Neo Prog albums of recent years. The musicianship is outstanding, helmed by Michel St-Père on guitars and keyboards, and enhanced greatly by Antoine Fafard's bass, often fretless, and additional acoustic guitars, Nick D'Virgilio's drumming (legendary drummer of Spock's Beard, Tears for Fears, Genesis, Big Big Train) and the lilting flute of Marilène Provencher-Leduc.

Benoît David is no stranger to prog (I still love his work on "Fly From Here") and he is back to his best with Mystery as lead vocalist. The high register is handled effortlessly, and it is such a pleasure to listen to. The lead guitar is brilliant throughout the album, the lead breaks are always something to look forward to. The guitar soars in places and often sounds like Latimer or Howe.

Following the mammoth mini epic is 'Superstar', a power ballad with towering vocals, and 'The Unwinding of Time' is a short break winding up a musical box, to make way for title track 'The World is a Game'. This begins with majestic staccato keyboard then settles into ballad territory before sounding more like the pomp of Yes.

'Dear Someone' returns to dreamy, gentle nuances, with Michel St-Père's Acoustics and Benoit's soft vocal touch. A howling lead guitar break swoons over in the instrumental section and lifts the song, though it goes on a bit too long and sounds like Europe, Journey or some other power ballad from the 90s. 'Time Goes By' feels like a symphony suite from a movie soundtrack. The vocals are well harmonised and the heavy duty guitar accentuates the melody. 'Another Day' is a colossal epic of the true prog kind, stretching out to a whopping 19 minutes, so this must be the ultimate Mystery epic. It promised much so hopelessly would deliver much. It begins with piano and very high pitched vocals. The lead guitar sustain is wonderful, those grandiose string bends are set off by cosmic Mellotron. A metal riff locks in and then a passage that harkens back to 'Locomotive Breath' by Jethro Tull, oddly enough, before returning to the main melody. The pace quickens into odd angular rhythms and then calms into angelic 'tron ambience. A Deep Purple guitar riff strikes the serenity, then a complete time sig change, shifting into a hypnotic piano motif, strong vocals with a Jon Anderson vibe. It is a masterful epic with all the right ingredients.

At the end of the album I am left with a profound feeling that I have experienced something dripping with passion and highly charged instrumentation, some of the best guitar and keyboard I have heard. All musicians are top notch and the vocals are incredible. The songs are not memorable but while the album plays, each track has a warmth and melody that caresses the ear. The album is certainly one of the better Neo Prog albums of 2012 and is recommended for those with a penchant for melodic prog with symphonic embellishments; a pleasant journey to the very end.

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 One Among the Living by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.99 | 214 ratings

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One Among the Living
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Produced during Benoit David's tenure as the lead singer of Yes, Mystery's One Among the Living is an album which is elevated well above the average by David's vocal performance. It's not that he does anything hyper-original or unexpected with his vocals - there's no Mike Patton- esque versatility on display or Robert Wyatt-styled explorations of the potential of the human voice as an instrument in its own right - but what he does offer is a mixture of confidence and genuine emotional conviction. Rarely have I believed that a singer in prog has believed in the words he's singing to the extent I believe when Benoit David sings, despite some occasional Yes-esque obscurity. I don't always know what he means but he always communicates what he feels - that's an achievement in itself.

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 One Among the Living by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.99 | 214 ratings

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One Among the Living
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. Benoit David certainly made a name for himself when he became part of YES and in turn it's given his band MYSTERY a higher profile amongst Prog fans. This is a 69 minute concept album that I find has some real highs but it also like most concept albums of this length I find a lot of average moments where I lose interest. And while Benoit is one heck of a singer I do tire of his voice before this one ends. As others have mentioned there is an AOR element to what's going on here and the vocals are a part of that.

"Among The Living" is the short intro track that i'm not that fond of. "Wolf" is one i'm really fond of though. There's an emotion to this tune that really draws me in. Great chorus too ! "Between Love And Hate" is mellow to start with laid back guitar as the reserved vocals join in. It picks up before 1 1/2 minutes. I like the guitar here. "Till The Truth Comes Out" has some violin and flute early with atmosphere then the relaxed vocals come in. An emotional tune that is done very well. It certainly turns more passionate later on. Excellent song.

"Kameleon Man" features John Jowitt on bass and Oliver Wakeman gives us a moog solo. Despite this it's one of my least favourite tracks. We then get the over 22 minutes "Through Different Eyes" suite that is divided into six parts. Love the bass on the fourth section. "One Among The Living" opens with lots of atmosphere before the vocals arrive and the sound changes. This is like a reprise of the first track "Among The Living". It's okay. "The Falling Man" is darker and heavier than anything else on here. "Sailing On A Wing" is the uplifting closer that is well done.

A good album that I think fans of Neo-Prog as well as fans of concept albums will eat up with joy. Not quite my cup of java but there's no question this is a talented band. Well done.

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 The World is a Game by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 224 ratings

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The World is a Game
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars This is a pleasant surprise--and my favorite Mystery album yet. The musicians are all clicking on the same wavelengths, the songs are sufficiently constructed to raise this band from what I call "second tier" prog into the halls of the real thing. (Obviously, M. David has learned a lot from his experiences with other bands--most notably, YES. And Nick D'Virgilio continues to only get better with the years--his intuitive skill at meshing his drumming with the musicians and ideas with which he works is IMHO unsurpassed in present-day prog. Just look at what he did for BIG BIG TRAIN!) Aside from the two intro/interlude songs ("A Morning Rise" and "The Unwinding of Time"), we have here six meaty songs with mature compositional value and great sound production. This latter aspect is one reason I give this album the bump up to the four star level.

The second song, "Pride" (11:28) (9/10) has a fairly simple construct and nothing terribly surprising--feeling like a cross between RUSH Signals-era and GENESIS And Then There Were Three: lots of catchy melodic hooks and some awesome drumming--though the soft section at the eight minute mark (beginning with the acoustic guitar arpeggio riff from "Midnight Cowboy theme) owes everything to maestro, JON ANDERSON (and a little of LOVERBOY). The individual performances are perfection and are especially noteworthy for the coheseive "team" feeling to it all.

The album's jewel, however, IMO, is the third song, "Superstar" (6:59) (10/10). A laid back tune with heart-breaking melodies much in the same vein as MOTH VELLUM. The vocals, guitar soli, drumming, bass and keyboard work are all absolutely perfect! One of my Top 10 songs for Y2K12.

The title song, (7:57) (6/10), has its gorgeous parts--including the guitars and piano--but the vocal and melody lines feel a bit too syrupy---like the group AIR SUPPLY from the 70s and 80s.Even when it hits third gear at the four minute mark it feels too much like 707, STYX or JOURNEY (three of my "second tier" "prog-wannabees").

6. "Dear Someone" (6:21) (8/10) has quite an awesome beginning (even if it reminds me of one of my favorite JOHN DENVER songs), which evolves into an equally gorgeous DEF LEPPARD-like section, thanks to an awesome electric guitar sound. Great melodies throughout this one--and some really hopeful, heart-warming lyrics (I hear you, Benoit! I have children!) Incredible work sur le batterie, Sir Nick, from the fourth minute on! Love the el gtr, flute and drum interplay at the very end.

7. "Time Goes By" (6:04) (7/10) has a bit more use of odd, thoughtful, melody lines woven together in an interesting and, I would guess, (for this band) risky way. The chorus melody reminds me tremendously of THE BUGGLES' "Rainbow Warrior". This one never really grabs me unitl the last minute in a half when the drums, bass, and guitar start playing off each other in an awesome display of instrumental "inter-PLAY." I appreciate this song's 'adventurousness'.

8. "Another Day" (19:02) (9/10) is one of my favorite epics of the year--mostly because I feel so strongly as if I am back listening to the best stuff from COLLAGE's Moonshine or SATELLITE's A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset. And you will find some awesome work by Nick D'Virgilio here!

The World Is a Game is not a masterpiece that propels the evolution of progressive rock forward, but it is a very solid, excellent sounding piece of prog ear candy--with some excellent group and individual performances. Definitely recommended for 'classic rock' and prog lovers.

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 The World is a Game by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 224 ratings

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The World is a Game
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars What a great year it's been for some fine highly melodic progressive rock albums where terrific vocals and intelligent lyrics are given just as much importance as complex playing and flashy arrangements - the most recent albums from Big Big Train, Izz, It Bites, Neal Morse and Beardfish instantly come to mind. So here we now have the follow up to Mystery's stunning `One Among The Living', and they've certainly delivered the goods again. `The World Is A Game' is an outstanding collection of polished Neo-prog and adult rock, often with somber and quite bleak observational lyrics, yet still very human, emotional and relatable. Several moments on this album really touch my heart, and well as providing all the exciting and complex progressive elements we demand.

Although a band of outstanding and highly technical musicians, it's so refreshing to find these skilled artists knowing when to play for dramatic and emotional effect rather than overblown show-boating. Michael St-Pere has such a majestic and heart-wrenching electric guitar sound on this album, everything he plays takes flight. Spaced Out's Antoine Fafard keeps everything grounded with his bass playing and is mixed rather low, but it's in line with the more subtle taste of the band. He does get a number of more prominent standout solo spots that really shine, and his acoustic guitar work is sublime. Spock's Beard main man Nick D'Virgilio's very disciplined, powerful and hugely varied drumming has to be heard to be believed - the guy is on such a roll at the moment. Finally vocalist Benoit David proves what a versatile and commanding singer he is, a million miles away from the Yes/Jon Anderson clone dismissals. It's also great to hear his voice so full of human feeling and compassion again after being so over-produced and rendered mostly lifeless on the Yes album `Fly From Here'!

On to the album...`A Morning Rise' is a lovely instrumental intro with warm acoustic guitar, gentle flute, sparse synth washes and wordless signed vocals. `Pride' charges in soon afterwards, with a heavy guitar crunch and forceful drums driving home what sounds like a softer and less metal version of Enchant. It darts back and forth between softer melodic reflections and forceful powerful grunt. Benoit David's voice is so confident and full of yearning. Nice subtle bass, mysterious synths runs and soaring electric guitar dance amongst the hurricane of D'Virgilio's playing. The emotional and dramatic guitar solos from St-Pere in the middle and end soar straight to the heavens. There's a lot of rising and falling drama in this track, endless build and tension, yet never busy or crowded with bloated soloing for the sake of it. A grand piece that gets better with every single listen. I love the bit about 4.10 minutes in where Benoit's voice cracks, very heartfelt and pained - listen for it!

Superstar' is a floating and drifting 70's Pink Floyd's styled piece, with similar plodding bass and tasteful thick synth waves that wash all over Benoit's dreamy vocals and group harmonies. Despite what the title suggests, I found the words very relatable and even quite sad, recognizing some of the feelings and observations from my own life. The highlight of an already wonderful piece is a number of effortless searing guitar solos that are just dripping with emotion and frustration.

`The Unwinding Of Time' is a brief 49 second musical box melody that starts out impossibly pretty until dark and sinister sounds fade in, before launching into the title track, with a massive 80's styled power/AOR style stomping guitar melody. The most upbeat piece on the album, it's not exactly my favourite, and it is a little repetitive and basic, but I think it's more pleasing uplifting mood helps break up the album from being a little too down and serious. Lots of nice gentle acoustic moments once the track settles down before the hard stadium-rock second half with crashing drums and soft metal riffs.

The sad but optimistic `Dear Someone' has slow melodic guitar verses and harder rocking mid- tempo subtle riffing for the guts of the song. Probably the most straightforward piece on the album, it's a nice mix of acoustic and electric moments, stirring vocals with catchy melodies and just a sophisticated Neo Prog/AOR sheen overall. Undemanding but classy.

`Time Goes By' flirts with slow gothic drama, darkly classical piano and a slightly uneasy wilting vocal from Benoit. It picks up in tempo with some powerful guitar, murmuring bass and spooky keyboards as it swaps back and forth with the opening passage. D'Virgilio's energetic and propulsive drumming crashes through and drives the whole band home in the very dramatic finale.

The album epic `Another Day' is a powerful symphonic stunner that runs through so many clever sections and seamless transitions in it's 19 minutes that it could easily put lesser prog bands to shame. There's endless emotional piano, moody acoustic guitar playing, and Benoit is absolutely superb on the main vocal theme that is sung in the opening and reprised throughout. A few minutes in the piece diverts into a softer Dream Theater flashy/technical diversion that is well played, but I'm not really a fan of progressive rock bands that fall back into fairly unimaginative soft- metal/hard rock riffs. Without even noticing, this soon blends into Mostly Autumn-style chugging riffs with Hammond, but quickly falls away into a wash of drifting multi-tracked Benoit harmonies that will bring up the dreaded Yes similarities again (but seriously, ANY section of this wipes the floor with all of `Fly From Here'!). Pay close attention to the D'Virgilio/Antoine Fafard complex drum/extremely upfront bass dancing play-off - total precision! The finale is a master class of fast upbeat synth solos, flute, mellotron and powerhouse drumming that wraps the album in a suitably grand manner. Interesting that they also finish things up without the cliché of a huge guitar solo, instead opting for a thoughtful come-down.

Do yourself a favour - take the time to just sit down and listen to `The World Is A Game' properly in your own quiet time. That means no travelling and listening on an Ipod, no playing it on the car stereo while you're driving in busy traffic - I'm watching you! Just chill out at home and give it a few plays all the way through, listen to the sophisticated arrangements, virtuoso playing by expert musicians who know when to hold back, and pay close attention to the words and the way they're sung. Let the album truly wash over you. You'll start to appreciate it in a whole new light, and realise it's another winning album to place alongside several other terrific melodic progressive rock albums this year.

Four stars.

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 The World is a Game by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 224 ratings

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The World is a Game
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Coming after the classic 'Among the Living' was not going to be an easy task , so let's get rid of the tendency to compare this in any form (its like your children, who do you love more?) and listen with an open ear and an ever wider open mind. Both Michel St-P're and Benoit David (who got his dream stint in Yes) have crafted a more profound album than ever before , searching out richer musical playgrounds , aided and abetted by bass maestro Antoine Fafard and colossal drummer Nick D'Virgilio ,whose long list of credentials speak for themselves, the man is a terrific percussor. Cosmic additions that are worth the price of admission.

The selection is denser than ever before, lush with resonance and effervescent melancholia, as Benoit certainly owns some amazing pipes, which he confidently showcases most unashamedly. The guitar play is stellar as to be expected (St-P're guitarring prowess was never an issue , check out the little undisguised Deep Purple riff and the hidden James Bond theme thingy ('You only live twice' jangle) on the opening 'Pride', Fafard's buzzing bass and Nick's powerful propulsion. A very convincing track that has everything to please and more' perhaps even Mystery's crowning achievement as the voice is just utterly convincing. Man, this is good '..

'Superstar' is always a dangerous word, leading often to delusions of grandeur that may not be merited in any way, so the gamble lever has been pulled. Starting off sweetly pastoral and effortlessly bluesy (wow what a lead guitar!), the beat solid and decisive, the song evolves into this gigantic blowout, a power prog ballad of the highest order with tinges of dissonance that is obvious and daring. Infusing big choir mellotron washes is always a plus for me (I go gaga over choir 'tron) and the Quebecois lads do not even hesitate. Nick's drumming is bold and manly, fitting in gorgeously into the mix. The lead guitar has that positive Santana-like vibe that is unmistakable in its resonant optimism, a very cool trait from Michel's creative mind. The title track actually goes for the jugular, crafting a barrage of lush symphonics and a quasi-Genesis feel that works brilliantly. The tune slowly builds into an anthem 'like arrangement which just shines brightly to the bittersweet end. David of course is the main ray of splendid heat, giving an emotional performance; the man is a solid candidate for best prog voice in 2012. Huge, huge, huge. The guy can probably do Kevin Cronin, Geddy Lee, Jon Anderson, Robert Plant and Michael Sadler imitations in his sleep.

'Dear Someone' shows off Benoit's angelic side, often cited as the reason why Squire and company chose him over a cast of thousands. This is intelligent pop-prog, if the airwaves could only hope to have stuff like this playing on air! Won't happen, the axe solo is too technical and of course too long, the bass is too busy and the drumming beyond athletic. Imagine a prog version of REO Speedwagon and you will see the picture brightly. I could listen to this stuff all day and no passerby would even object.

'Time Goes By' has an altogether singular feel, expertly cinematic like good prog should be, a soundtrack for the mind. Nice and heavy style here, the crunching riffs pounding gently, the chorus divine and the imaginary sublime. David really lays into the microphone here, rich and deserving. Then to close off with a near 20 minute epic is what courage and confidence are all about. 'Another Day' follows all the classic prog epic rules, a huge slice of symphonic ebullience, structured to impact deeply on the soul with recurring themes elevated by well conceived construction, supplied by a variety of musical materials, tools and infinite inspiration. The arrangement contrasts very from gentle to rough and sweaty, clanging acoustics and challenging electrics, a little hint of Locomotive Breath to keep one off balance and a sly mention of 'close to the edge' that only adds humor to the already stellar production. Smart, suave and sensual. A psychedelic bridge section only furthers the fire, like some prog roller coaster. Here the prog gets heavy and raw, there it seduces with sexual dexterity and sensual howls of delight. Again, you cannot help noticing D'Virgilio's stupendous style, a busy and virtuoso performer. Fafard can also play a mean bass, everyone's on the ball. Back we go to the front again; Mystery reboots the whole thing for a second bulldozing run until a crescendo is reached at the end, just like a good eargasm should. The trembling and fuzzy lead guitar solo is divinely slicing through the profound lyrical melancholia; a delicate piano appearing at the perfect moment. This amazing whopper will require repeated listens before it can completely sink in. Fascinating! Certainly a strong groove here that deserves the highest praise.

Not as accomplished on the whole as One Among the Living', this is a worthy album only a few baby steps behind in terms of rating but of unqualified musical expression, with enough captivating moments to warrant frequent revisits. The silly 'prog version of Journey' comparisons need to die, its patently ridiculous by now in Mystery's evolution.

4.5 Toy Planets

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