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Monarch Trail - Wither Down CD (album) cover

WITHER DOWN

Monarch Trail

 

Neo-Prog

3.86 | 49 ratings

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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.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |

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