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Mentaur - Darkness Before Dawn  CD (album) cover





3.18 | 15 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars The last battle

Here is another obscure British band who was mistreated by their times. There is very little information on the band to be found on the web, but as far I understand from the little I've found they started out calling themselves Mordred sometime in the 1980's and then changed their name to Mentaur somewhere along the line. The present CD that was released on Cyclops records in 1996 remains Mentaur's only official release and functions as a kind of "best off"- album, gathering the highlights from the band's several demos that were recorded during the 80's and 90's.

The sound of Mentaur brings to mind early Pallas, Arena, a bit of Twelfth Night, and even a touch of raw Heavy Metal. All of the nine songs are very good, but the two epics that open and close the album are especially excellent. There is a nice variation between ballads and rockers. One of the songs is a live recording, emphasizing the compilation nature of the disc. If I had been the band, I would have put this one at the end as a bonus track. The 20 minute plus, four-part suite The Last Battle, is based on the familiar legend of King Arthur and as such it is somewhere in between Kayak's Merlin suite (the excellent original version from 1981, not the musical-like re-make) and Rick Wakeman's Myths And Legends Of King Arthur. Some of the keyboard solos are indeed a bit Wakeman-like. This music is very much my cup of tea, it's a shame that such good material remains so unknown.

The sound of the drums and vocals is not perfect, but the guitars and keyboards sound good enough. This is admittedly a rough diamond, but it is indeed a diamond. Fans of the heavier and darker sides of Neo-Prog might enjoy it, as indeed did I. I initially became interested in the album just in virtue of the dark cover picture when I stumbled upon it here on PA. Needless to add, I would never have heard of this band if it wasn't for this website. A very pleasant surprise, out of nowhere.

Seemingly completely overlooked, but highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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