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Man On Fire - Chrysalis CD (album) cover

CHRYSALIS

Man On Fire

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars Liberty,experience,talent, innovation....

Mix of virtues that make MOF a very attractive band.

Is enjoyable to listen to these very good songs..with surprising changes in the middle of every one.

Songs with very attractive melodic ideas.

If you like the best Enchant,the best Carptree and the best It Bites....make a mix with talent and you,ll get an album like this one.

MOF is very eclectic in the modern prog rock area.

This work is very solid.

I feel that what MOF is doing with prog rock is similar to what Black Eyed Peas is doing with pop.(mixing brilliantly many sources of prog rock...mixing.....sources of pop)

So congratulations to this very innovative artist of prog rock.

4 stars.

Report this review (#509293)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Chrysalis is quite simply the most unique and non-traditional prog release I have heard this year. Try as I may, I really can't find a point of reference that actually applies. Perhaps a bit of 'Security' era Peter Gabriel, but with a dose of Mick Karn-style bass, a hook sensibility worthy of Kevin Gilbert, a horn section (that adds touches that is at times symphonic, at times jazzy, and other times, downright Motown funky), classically-influenced violin, and unstoppable grooves that wouldn't be out of place on a dance floor at times. That's not to say this is dance music, which it most definitely isn't. Just check out the shifting odd time signatures snaking through the 4 part title track suite. There are enough different musical ideas in there to fill an entire album.

The album starts with an onslaught of relentless, almost Nine Inch Nails-style synths that underscore the groove on the opening track 'Repeat It" , the fretless bass of Eric Sands upfront in the mix breaking up the rhythm. Soon the growling voice of Jeff Hodges enters the mix and it becomes very clear very quickly that his vocals have matured significantly. While never a bad singer by any means, Hodges voice throughout the CD are a revelation, full of emotion and fairly bursting with intermittent rage, melancholy, and tenderness as the tunes require. It's a powerful vocal performance that will surprise longtime fans.

Over the course of the next 2 tracks, "In a Sense" and "A (Post-Apocalyptic) Bedtime Story", Man on Fire show that their 6 year break has paid off in rich dividends. That amazing fretless bass is back and will continue to be on for the remainder of the album, supplying elastic, rubber band melodies and grooves that, when matched with the nimble drumming of Quentin Ravenell, combine to make one of the most original and thrilling rhythm section on the current prog scene. "In a Sense" also introduces jenny Hugh on violin with a repeating riff that will remain in your head for days. "Bedtime Story" dials it down a notch with a dark ballad that lyrically paints a portrait of a what I believe to be life in a nuclear winter. These two tracks also feature what may be Man on Fire's most potent new weapon in their musical arsenal - the soulful voice of new co-vocalist Elise Testone, whose sultry voice fits Hodge's raspier tone like a glove and adds yet another layer to the band's distinctly American sound.

The 10+ minute 4-part "Chrysalis" suite follows next and the prog credentials are given a thorough workout as the music turns on a dime and moves through so many different moods and stylistic changes it might make you dizzy. The addition of Cameron Harder Handel, a world-class trumpeter, is felt strongly on these tracks as she steps to the forefront for some intense, jazzy solos that crown musical movements that remind me a little of early Spock's Beard at their best. Of special note is that this this suite also features Vitaly Popeloff from fellow 10T Records band FROM.UZ on lead guitar. His contributions are incendiary!

"The Projectionist" reminds me a bit of 80s era Rush, with its prominent bass, melodic vocals, ringing guitar tones, and a great guitar solo. "Tear Gas" comes on then like a runaway train, establishing the most driving in-your-face beat of the entire CD, along with heavy bursts of distorted guitar (almost metal in nature), along with that trumpet again for 2 separate solo spots. The final extended minute of so at the end of the song has a dissonant ambiance that brings Porcupine Tree to mind, while not sounding at all like any attempt at trying to emulate the PT sound. "Higher than Mountains" follows with the most upbeat sounding track of the release, sounding at times like Yes, but with bigger balls and a stronger sense of groove. This track has some killer drum work that really sets it apart.

Finally, we get to "Gravity" the album's closing 10 minute track and what a finale it is! Simply put, "Gravity" takes all the best ingredients from all that has gone before and applies them to what is the perfect closer, as well as the standout track of the entire CD. Pure musical ecstasy! Modern prog doesn't get better than this, and without ever sounding remotely like any band on the scene, past or present.

Gicen that lead singer/keyboardist/songwriter Jeff Hodges is a professional producer with several high-profile projects under his belt, it's no surprise that "Chrysalis" is a true audiophile recording, with incredible separation and clarity throughout. It is also thoroughly modern in its sound and approach. There is no attempt to emulate the 70s anywhere on the CD, although the music it contains is without question progressive rock.

This is the most original release I have heard all year and I cannot praise it too highly. Based on the year thus far, this release gets my vote for the Best CD of 2011!

Report this review (#509318)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This US band returns with their fourth studio album.

This is my first exposure to their music after the interview I did some days ago. I have been listening to this album on and off since I received the promo copy though.

Listed in the Eclectic genre, I would describe their music as modern prog rock. I do not disagree with the genre listing though. But Man On Fire has taken a lot of influences from the last ten years popular music and implemented them into their brand of symph and eclectic prog. From Madonna's latest incarnation to americana, soul, pop, rock, scandinavian depressive prog, neo prog, funk, jazz, rap, latino, house and prog metal. The result is a very varied album which is all over the place. It is also an album pretty difficult to describe in words.

The musicians and vocalist here does a very good job. The female soul vocals is not to my liking though in general terms. But they are necessary in this context so I have no gripe with them. What I have gripes with though is the lack of any really superb songs. That is a problem I have with this album.

....... Then again, the title track, a suite no less, is really great and should really bridge the span between the 1970s focus on suites and the today prog scene's focus on implementing the last decade's sigths and sounds. It really boils down to the question of being regressive or progressive. I am a big fan of the 1970s scene as most of you reading these lines. But I accept we cannot live in the past forever. Sounds and albums as Crysalis is today's progressive rock and a great intro for today's human beings to this genre. And the quality here is very good so I have no problems recommending this album to everyone. In this case 3.5 stars is upped to 4 stars.

Recommended to everyone wanting to know how 2011 sounds like.

4 stars

Report this review (#517858)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Chrysalis is one of those albums that manages to be complex, tricky, and progressive as hell, yet still melodic and instantly accessible. Similarly to fellow American prog rockers like Echolyn and Spock's Beard, Man on Fire offers a quirky and modern progressive concoction that still sounds fresh and inspired. Chrysalis doesn't try to hide its eclectic list of influences, but instead successfully blends them all together into a sound that is unique and instantly recognizable. Man on Fire's ability to blend progressive rock, jazz, pop, metal, and even funky R&B with such finesse is admirable, and their impressive skills as musicians and composers make this effort all the more noteworthy. Chrysalis is a professional, well- composed, and original prog rock album - anyone who's wondering what that sounds like here in 2011 is bound to love this fourth observation from Man on Fire!

Even though Chrysalis is an album that sounds like no other, Man on Fire has a distinct American prog rock touch that brings acts like Spock's Beard, Kansas, and especially Echolyn to mind. Man on Fire is clearly more rooted in jazz than any of the aforementioned acts, though, and Eric Sands's fretless bass, Cameron Harder Handel's expressive trumpet, and Quentin Ravenel's jazzy drumming keep the band from ever sounding derivative or conventional. The compositions have distinct melodic pop hooks, but the dense instrumentation and quirky instrumental portions always keep things interesting - songs like "Gravity" and the four-song title track suite are all representative of the great music contained on this disc. The sleek musicianship, parred by the equally stunning production, both allow Chrysalis to sound like the work of progressive rock veterans.

Chrysalis is one of those rare albums that manages to be both unique and enjoyable, and I'll applaud Man on Fire all day long for crafting an album this well-composed and professional. People who enjoy acts like Echolyn, but with an additional dose of eclecticism, will find some of the year's best music with this CD. Jam-packed with memorable hooks, complex instrumentals, and powerful vocals, Man on Fire have succeeded tremendously with this effort! 4 stars and a very warm recommendation are both well-deserved. If you haven't checked out these American prog rockers yet, I think Chrysalis is a fine introduction.

Report this review (#523569)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Man on Fire has been around since 1999, and even though they've been around for 12 years they're still putting out great material. To be honest, I'd never heard of this band before I got their newest CD, but I'm glad I did. This album has definitely made a cause to look into this bands back catalog too. One of the great things about this album is that they integrated awesome horn sections into the typical prog rock sound.

Chrysalis reminds me a lot of earlier Spock's Beard, and that is great. I love Spock's Beard, so anything that sounds like them is a huge plus. This album also has an eclectic side to it that is shown throughout the album. The fretless bass, played by Eric Sands, is absolutely amazing and adds a jazzier sound to the album. The guitar work on this album is also very good especially on "In A Sense". Another thing this album has going for it is the four part epic, "Chrysalis", which encompasses a bunch of musical genres. It ranges from rock, to jazz, and even some Motown all wrapped together into one epic. This album also comes with a second, one song epic titles "Gravity". "Gravity" is by far the most impressive track on the album, and really shows the immense amount of talent in this group. The keyboards to open it up are absolutely superb and mix very well with the drums later on to make a sort of funk groove. The organ and synth in this song remind me a lot of Spock's Beard, like I said earlier.

This release is definitely one of the best prog rock albums of 2011, and yet another great one from 10T Records. Even though it tops out at just below an hour, it never gets boring and keeps bringing new ideas and rhythms to the table that really add to the overall feel of the album. Chrysalis is definitely worthy of 4 stars.

Report this review (#524258)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US act MAN ON FIRE made their debut back in 1998, which was followed up by the critically acclaimed sophomore disc "The Undefined Design" in 2003 and slightly more contested "Habitat" in 2007, the latter disc coming with a sound and approach featuring closer ties to mainstream-oriented pop and rock. "Chrysalis" is their fourth album and was released on their own label 10t Records in the fall of 2011.

With "Chrysalis" the band has taken their trademark sound further, and into a field I suspect to some extent will divide their fans to an even greater extent than their previous effort "Habitat". Mainstream-oriented art rock with pop and industrial over- and undertones would appear to be a fitting general description of the overall style, but with more details and sophisticated mannerisms than you'll encounter on any directly mainstream-oriented production. Well worth checking out, and for most that should be done extensively prior to a purchase, I suspect. Potential core audience: progressive rock fans who also have artists like Depeche Mode and Gary Numan as treasured items in their music collection.

Report this review (#538079)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Chrysalis' - Man On Fire (7/10)

Man On Fire is a band I have been hearing quite a bit about this year, thanks in no small part due to the release and subsequent acclaim of this, their latest album. 'Chrysalis' is certainly an album that gives listeners a reason to be excited; it is a well-played, inventive album that delivers quite a few thrills over its course. Despite nailing several aspects of their sound down smoothly, Man On Fire's ambition is a tad overbearing, and for every thing on 'Chrysalis' that strikes gold, there is something that could have been done better.

Man On Fire are first and foremost; a modern prog rock act. There is the tender homage to the old greats here, but the sound is not retro. In fact, it may be difficult to describe the sound of 'Chrysalis' appropriately with any one word, or ten. Actually, a fitting term would be 'diverse'; Man On Fire seem deadset on exploiting every style and avenue they can lay their instruments on. This equates to a shapeless monster that incorporates pop, metal, electronica, jazz, and even soul, funk, and R&B. Sure enough, Man On Fire both manages to load a lot into their music, and this sense of variety is what I think defines what Man On Fire have done with 'Chrysalis'. All the same, there are aspects of the sound that follow through most of the music here. The vocals here are paired between somewhat gruff male vocals, and a female vocalist that would not have sounded out of place in a gospel choir. The vocals of Man On Fire are generally quite strong and well arranged, and they do help glue the album together a little better.

Instrumentally, Man On Fire manages to hit each of the genres they dabble in quite well. They are not writing the book on any of these sounds, but the way they all come together equates to an album that constantly engages and surprises. The electronic material and female soul vocals of Elise Testone are arguably the best aspects of Man On Fire's sound. Overall however, this band's best selling point is their ability to throw so many sounds onto one album. Sadly, this is done in such a way that feels more like a comparison of many different strong sounds, rather than a smooth synthesis, as I would have preferred. An exciting release nonetheless, 'Chrysalis' is an inventive face of modern prog rock.

Report this review (#569681)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 | Review Permalink

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