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Mystery - The World Is a Game CD (album) cover





3.98 | 366 ratings

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4 stars Mystery begin the listening experience on "The World is a Game" with beautiful flute and acoustic vibrations on 'A Morning Rise, and then it launches into a heavy distorted guitar ringing out and some wonderful crystalline vocals on 'Pride', an 11:28 blockbuster. The guitars are aggressive and balance out the melodic singing and grinding keyboard pads. This is a fantastic start to one of the great Neo Prog albums of recent years. The musicianship is outstanding, helmed by Michel St-Père on guitars and keyboards, and enhanced greatly by Antoine Fafard's bass, often fretless, and additional acoustic guitars, Nick D'Virgilio's drumming (legendary drummer of Spock's Beard, Tears for Fears, Genesis, Big Big Train) and the lilting flute of Marilène Provencher-Leduc.

Benoît David is no stranger to prog (I still love his work on "Fly From Here") and he is back to his best with Mystery as lead vocalist. The high register is handled effortlessly, and it is such a pleasure to listen to. The lead guitar is brilliant throughout the album, the lead breaks are always something to look forward to. The guitar soars in places and often sounds like Latimer or Howe.

Following the mammoth mini epic is 'Superstar', a power ballad with towering vocals, and 'The Unwinding of Time' is a short break winding up a musical box, to make way for title track 'The World is a Game'. This begins with majestic staccato keyboard then settles into ballad territory before sounding more like the pomp of Yes.

'Dear Someone' returns to dreamy, gentle nuances, with Michel St-Père's Acoustics and Benoit's soft vocal touch. A howling lead guitar break swoons over in the instrumental section and lifts the song, though it goes on a bit too long and sounds like Europe, Journey or some other power ballad from the 90s. 'Time Goes By' feels like a symphony suite from a movie soundtrack. The vocals are well harmonised and the heavy duty guitar accentuates the melody. 'Another Day' is a colossal epic of the true prog kind, stretching out to a whopping 19 minutes, so this must be the ultimate Mystery epic. It promised much so hopelessly would deliver much. It begins with piano and very high pitched vocals. The lead guitar sustain is wonderful, those grandiose string bends are set off by cosmic Mellotron. A metal riff locks in and then a passage that harkens back to 'Locomotive Breath' by Jethro Tull, oddly enough, before returning to the main melody. The pace quickens into odd angular rhythms and then calms into angelic 'tron ambience. A Deep Purple guitar riff strikes the serenity, then a complete time sig change, shifting into a hypnotic piano motif, strong vocals with a Jon Anderson vibe. It is a masterful epic with all the right ingredients.

At the end of the album I am left with a profound feeling that I have experienced something dripping with passion and highly charged instrumentation, some of the best guitar and keyboard I have heard. All musicians are top notch and the vocals are incredible. The songs are not memorable but while the album plays, each track has a warmth and melody that caresses the ear. The album is certainly one of the better Neo Prog albums of 2012 and is recommended for those with a penchant for melodic prog with symphonic embellishments; a pleasant journey to the very end.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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