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Mentaur - Darkness Before Dawn  CD (album) cover





3.18 | 15 ratings

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3 stars A really obscure British Prog act from late-80's, obviously influenced by the Neo Prog movement primarly of their existence.Mentaur started as Mordred in 1989, led by Tim Ridley (keyboards) and Nick Ridley (bass) also with Ed Lepper on drums and Robin Barter on guitars.The band changed a few singers through the years, recording several short and longer demos, until finally they disbanded in 1994.However in 1996 Cyclops showed interest in their material and released a compilation of Menatur's demos, entitled ''Darkness Before Dawn''.Most of the songs feature Carlton Evans on vocals, except for a couple sung by Steve Cochrane.

Mentaur simply turned the back on easy-listening and pleasant music and this compilation is full of dark-sounding Neo Prog with AOR and Hard Rock touches.Additionally it contains a pair of grand epics on a trully uncommercial move on their behalf.The 15-min. ''Day of Wrath'' is simply outstanding with strong ARENA and early PALLAS resemblances, swirling around groovy but rich musicianship and complex keyboard acrobatics, featuring also excellent vocals and occasionally stepping into more Metal-related grounds.Bombastic, powerful composition with very solid songwriting.The 23-min. ''The Last Battle'' is definitely the most ambitious piece written by the band.It is split in four movements and offers a haunting, epic Prog Rock along the lines of ASGARD with dramatic and expressive singing parts, symphonic instrumental textures, dark background soundscapes and flashy keyboard solos, add another winner in the list of Mentaur's material.These tracks alone make this album worth owning.The rest of this compilation consists of shorter cuts, ranging from 3 to 7 minutes, with a slightly more straight approach, still filled with memorable tunes and even demanding musicianship.The guitar work is more groovy, the choruses more easy-going and the structures of the songs rather easier, but series of impressive vocal performances, guitar solos and bombastic synths guarantee a good listening experience.

This group deserved much more than it actually got.''Darkness Before Dawn'' will have a certain appeal to all fans of dramatic Neo Prog and keyboard-led Heavy Prog, for whom it comes warmly recommended.

apps79 | 3/5 |


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