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Mystery - One Among The Living CD (album) cover





3.99 | 290 ratings

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5 stars Mystery that it took me so much time and effort to get into this rather eloquent French Canadian band! I mean all the right foundations were there: a glorious prog history in Quebec that remains almost unparalleled anywhere else, a previous album (Beneath the Veil?) that had surprised not only myself but the general prog public and add the incredible Benoit David saga, in and out of Yes, just like a true mercenary. "One Beyond the Living" passed by my listen/review radar in a moment of uncontrolled distraction, ripped a few tracks to my media player and promptly moved on to other stuff. Stupid me! I recently rediscovered this sensational album thanks to my automobile stereo and I have been indulging in multiple repeat plays for 2 weeks now. I do have a hard time with pigeon-holing this as a purely neo offering, as Mystery offers up a varied set of musical spices, ranging from power AOR pop (mostly due to Benoit's uniquely distinctive voice), kick-ass bass, solid drums and swirly guitar playing as well as a smattering of lavish symphonics and heady orchestrations. Certainly not experimental or avant-garde by any stretch, just well-polished and superbly crafted melodies that have some serious "oomph" , a trait that super-dinosaur Yes should consider, as they have produced so much satinized bleep lately (the so-so "Fly From Here" has Benoit's saving grace lungs all over the rather poor arrangements). Leader Michel St-Père has crafted a classic sounding album that has all the hallmarks of a stunner.

The wee ouverture is just a prelude to "Wolf", a full-blown melodic mesmerizer that has all the attributes to make a solid impression on any prog fan. Benoit shows off his incredible voice (hints of Jon Anderson, a way less nasal Steve Perry, Michael Sadler, the legendary Robert Plant and even REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin) and the main riff is stitched together with some wispy synthesizer, rifling guitar, rumbling bass and some solid drumming. The chorus is a complete screecher, hitting the loftiest highs and mining deep into the pleasure nodes. A simple yet effective synth flurry keeps the instrumental bridge lively and exciting, full of power, presence and melancholia. Yeah, its attractive, memorable and you can hum to it! The sleek "Between Love and Hate" is one of those sexy prog ballads that one can listen to all night, a goblet of luscious Vosne-Romanée in one hand and the breast of a lover in another. As the loving caress becomes an intense groove, spooky rhythms and a colossal chorus pound hard and fast, tossing in some technical prowess in chord changes as well as a ruthless axe solo. There is an unambiguous power-prog feel that is front and center, great driving music and cinematographic aural visualizations abound. The nearly 10 minute symph epic "Until the Truth Comes Out" continues the melancholic traits that litter this recording, crafting another gigantic melody and chiseling it with a diamond cutter's precision, "keeping the dream alive" and stretching the piece to successful lengths by introducing a myriad of sizzling shifts and compelling solo endeavors, St-Père in particular showing off some skill and symphonic technique in his extended instrumental section, sculpting some hot riffs that flutter mercilessly amid the screaming leads , all endowed by colossal mellotron bursts. This is easily one of their more intricate pieces ever, a must for progfans who still have any lingering doubts about their progressive quotient. .

After such a whopper, a little levity is permitted with the bold and heavy "Kameleon Man", a quirky, bass-fueled rumble that has a hint of classic Led Zeppelin. The main riff chugs along like a Swiss train, precise and dedicated, an "owl hoot" guitar that twists and turns. The synthesizer solo is sweet and impressive as the bulldozing riff hammers along, unmolested. Yeah, it's finished off by a blistering Jimmy Page-like axe solo that scratches and growls like someone still 'dazed and confused' after all these years!

The absolute highlight of this release is the 6 part, 22 minute and 35 second suite "Through Different Eyes", a colossus that the hopeless Yes could have created had it still had any creative juice left. This track is akin to the classic "Gates of Delirium" in its scope and harmonious disposition. We are in total symphonic realms, without any doubt what so ever. The excited electric guitar does some devious acrobatics at first (I like to call it "Satrianisms"), the electronic keyboards construct some sonic structures that are woven with elegant complexity and spectacularly crisp 6 strings jangling, leading to the excruciatingly gorgeous "So Far Away" section, a blood brother to the tear-jerking "Soon" off Relayer. The mood becomes deeply intense, foreboding and yet scintillatingly delicious all at once. The "dadi dadi dah" chorus is beyond genius and provokes the deepest sonic luxury. The burping Antoine Fafard bass and the raging guitar on the short but devastating "Point of No Return" section is utterly enthralling, followed shortly by its polar opposite, the autumnal pastoral beauty of "The Silent Scream", a track that hits the softer spot quite eloquently, almost Hackettesque in scope with Benoit delivering another crushing vocal performance. When St-Père liberates his guitar, he scours high and mighty in expressing the profoundest emotions and one just has to shake and tremble at all the talent displayed here. The finale is the exquisite "Dancing with Butterflies", a lush, sultry and sophisticated ending to a progressive glittering prize, an epic that has few peers in recent memory.

The title track only confirms Mystery's undeniable talent in writing sublime melodies and having the wherewithal to express them both vocally and musically. Not too many bands out there that can pull this off successfully. Bombastic, Wagnerian and Gargantuan are just words but the music distills even more attributes, the performances glittering and the overall impression is one of masterful comprehension of modern prog music, albeit with a more accessible slant. Asia, Squakett, ACT, Saga, Yes, are all way behind lagging in this department, as Mystery shows the way conclusively.

"The Falling Man" introduces some more eerie arrangements that hint at a cinematographic composition, menacing and malevolent riffs combine with unusual voice effects and an overall "heavy" feel, leaning towards something recent Arena would come up with.

The pretty "Sailing on a Wing" features famed guest Darryl Stuermer on jazzy lead guitar (what a solo!) and is another cracker track, full of infectious bravado and macho pomp, with Benoit singing his heart out.

I mean, really? This is an album that has a cavalcade of hysterically brilliant melodies, perfect instrumental prowess and a surreal vocalist that is utterly convincing. I frankly hope Benoit stays with Mystery and says "Non" to Yes. Easily the finest Quebec prog album ever, having that added attribute of exciting rock fans of all ages and stripes, as long as they have open minds and adventurous spirits.

Bien joué, les boys!

5 mystères vivants

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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