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Umphrey's McGee - Mantis CD (album) cover


Umphrey's McGee


Crossover Prog

3.68 | 79 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars More Beardfish than Phish....Modern Prog at its best!!!!

Umphrey's Mcgee have gained their reputation as the current heir apparent to the jam-band throne pointing back to the Grateful Dead. But they have always an undercurrent of metal chops and more importantly, prog sensibilities. _Mantis_ is an album 2 years in the making that moves those undercurrents to the foreground and keeps only a bit of groove and improvisational skill as hints of the traits that brought them to fame.

_Mantis_ is perhaps the best Modern Prog album I've heard. Its sound is akin to Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, and the aforementioned Beardfish drawing from a very broad array of sounds. I've already started a thread advocating their move to Eclectic Prog for that very reason. Though I disagree with Metallica comparisons I've read, there are very heavy moments with palm muting, twin guitar leads, tapping cadenzas, but with a warmer, lighter distortion than most true metal. This comes alongside frequent harmony vocals (sections of Beatles, Beach Boys!!!, and their own feel). Their are single note lines not unlike Gentle Giant, dreamy sections with slide guitar a la Pink Floyd, and a low vocal / ambient section much like Ulver!!!! Moreover, it all blends wonderfully. (One exception is the electronica beat behind Cemetary Walk II, a short reprise of the hook-iest track) The title track is a semi-epic (just under 12 minutes) that moves from straight up prog to a funk riff through some very memorable lyrics and ends on a improvised guitar solo. There are acoustic guitars, MANY different key sounds both modern and classic, time changes, nuanced drumming. Everything I want from a prog album, just more feel and groove than usual.

I knew this was a 4+ album from the first listen, and I initially gave it 5 stars, and when I listen to this album alongside any others of its kind, this one is better. The artists themselves certainly devoted the time and energy, with the intention that this would be a magnum opus of sorts. This could have been a disaster and it is yet to be seen how it will do in popularity, I think they've succeeded. Now that a little time has past, it is still Umphrey's best album in my mind though not quite a masterpiece. Still, I recommend it without reservation. Buy it, download it, stream it, borrow it, whatever. It's worth many enjoyable listens.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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