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Kansas - Masque CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 565 ratings

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4 stars Ah, Masque, definitely a rose if ever there was one (IE: some beautiful parts, but some real thorns). The first and sixth tracks are complete throwaway pop. I contribute this to the fact that they were desperate to achieve some modicum of success, in order to avoid the axe. However, the other work is varying amounts of awesome. Many people harp on Two Cents Worth, but it's a nice low-key jazzy/funky number with some really nice lyrics. Pink Floyd is allowed this leeway(Money), so why not Kansas? Then there's Icarus, almost complete masterpiece. Some fanboys have hailed it as the creation of prog metal! I'm not sure about those claims, but it is probably Kansas most guitar-dominated epic. However, there are also some more traditional proggy aspects to it, including some dynamite Walsh soloing. My main complaint; it feels like it was cut short. The instrumental work in the middle could have been much longer, and unlike most Kansas epics, instead of playing to a big finish, it just fades out. Once again, I think we see the evidence of pressure by the label to adopt a more radio friendly format. However, a dynamite track nonethless and there is something to be said for Livgren being able to cram so much into just 6 minutes. Next, there's All the World. Neal Morse fans will probably love this one; it's starts off sounding like a really hippy sounding ballad (think Beatles), then launches into a great song, then returning to a mutated version of the beginning of the song. I think there's a bit of humor here juxtaposing the over-the-top, almost cheesy hippy elements with really heavy music. This might be the creation of prog metal. Next, there's Child of Innocence. Not Kansas best, but one of their best short tracks up until this point in their career. It sounds like a prototype for Wayward Son, but I like it better. That could just be the fact that I haven't heard it five billion times on classic rock stations and in really cheesy movie scenes. However, I point to less chorus abuse and a more adventurous feel as my reasons. Skipping the next crap track (trying to forget it exists), we have Mysteries and Mayhem. It reminds me of the Devil Game a little, but my chief complaint here is that the song sounds just a little bare and some of the the drumming is repetitive and too snare-heavy. Nevertheless, still a fairly strong number and I love how it segues into one of the best pieces of music ever written, The Pinnacle.

I'm not going to describe this song, as I don't want to risk ruining the listener's first time experience. I will only say, that here, Livgren combines most of the elements already evidenced in the album's other strong tracks into a really cohesive and amazing experience. If this is not prog, then I'm a ham sandwich.

Overall, this album is a varied experience, but it has some great tracks, and one of Kansas' best songs on it. That makes its rating 3.75.

Failcore | 4/5 |


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