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Mars Hollow - 'World In Front Of Me' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/89/2d/81/1618_marshollowworldinfrontofme_1316795500.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 23, 2011    
 
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An album that will be talked about for many, many years to come.

I need to start this review of the 'World In Front Of Me' by getting something off my chest. WOW!! OK, I've said it, now I can get on with a review of a progressive rock album that is simply sublime. The self titled debut effort from Mars Hollow which saw the light of day only a year ago was a pretty spectacular introduction to a band who bring a vast array of progressive influences together to wonderful effect, with that release bringing everyone from Yes, Genesis, Styx, Kansas and Gentle Giant to mind. The worry always was that, especially so soon down the line, Mars Hollow couldn't quite live up to their own standards, but I needn't have worried as they've not only met those expectations, but blown them thoroughly out of the water with what will no doubt be a strong contender for my and many other people's album of the year.

The band may be only two albums old, however the four musicians who make up Mars Hollow – John Baker (lead vocals and all manner of guitars), Jerry Beller (percussion and drums), Kerry Chicoine (bass) and Steve Mauk (keyboards) aren't exactly young bucks, and maybe their links with bands as respected as The Beach Boys to Spock's Beard goes a long way to explaining how they have come up with an album that is so assured, classy and downright impressive.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Vocally Baker has a marvellously captivating and seductive tone that just seems to grow in stature every time you play this album and it his easy delivery that goes a long way to making some complex and intricate structures amazingly easy to get to grips with and in some cases even sing along to. The best example of his powers come in the shape of the schizophrenically altering 'Weapon', where constantly altering time signatures and pummelling drum fills are held together by a hugely enigmatic vocal, although the roaming bass, graceful keyboards and dextrous guitar work are rather jaw dropping as well. The album is bookended by two epic numbers, both of which clock in at around the twelve minute mark, really allowing the stunning arrangements and sparkling musicianship the room and time to fully breathe and mature into songs of huge breadth and scope. 

On the closing title track Beller is again masterful behind the kit, with fills, flurries and cymbal crashes punctuating a rock solid beat, although he is matched every step of the way by the bouncy and amazingly tuneful bass playing from Chicoine, whereas the opening number 'Walk On Alone', is a master class in poise and pace, with frantic sections being broken up with leisurely passages in a manner that strongly reminds of Yes at their very best. 'Mind Over Matter' and 'Prelude' come from the opposite end of the spectrum with their brevity allowing them to break up the longer songs, without them ever feeling surplus to requirements, while the mid lengthed 'Voices' and 'What Have I Done' are exquisite melodic prog at its most incisive catchy best. Add to all of that a production courtesy of ex-Yes man Billy Sherwood and you really do have an album that will be talked about for many, many years to come as an example of just how infectious and impressive prog rock really still is.

Steven Reid

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