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(50:33; Unicorn Digital)
I keep being sent reminders of just how long I have been writing about progressive rock music, as here is yet another reissue of an album from aeons ago. Although looking at my records it appears I reviewed this 1996 debut at the same time as the follow-up, ‘Destiny?’, two years later (yes, I do realise that is still 20 years ago!). Mystery have changed somewhat over the years, both in personnel and in musical style, but guitarist Michel St-Pere was driving them back then, just as he is now. Divided into two sections, “The Reality” and “The Dream”, those who have only come across the band since 2007’s ‘Beneath The Veil of Winter’s Face’ will be somewhat surprised to realise that they started their recording career as a band who had far more in common with Styx and Journey than their far more progressive stylings, although they also make their presence felt. Many people liken original vocalist Gary Savoie as having a very similar voice to Steve Perry, and it is something I also said back then, but listening to this album again after so many years what really struck me was just how bloody good it is. The best song is “Black Roses”, which moves from gentle acoustic melodies led by a flute to Kansas-style rock, but there is movement throughout the whole album, with fluid arrangements and a band working really well together. It is easy to listen to, without ever falling into the trap of being easy listening, and feels fresh and invigorating. In 2017 the 16 track audio tapes were restored and transferred in digital, and then completely re-mixed by Michel St- Pere while respecting the original performance of the band also featuring Gary Savoie, Benoit Dupuis, Michel Painchaud, original artwork created by late drummer Stephane Perreault and mastering by bassist Richard Addison. I have been a fan of the band for twenty years, yet I had forgotten just how enjoyable their debut album is. It may be scorned by prog purists, but in reality there are only two types of music in this world, good and bad, and this more definitely is the former.
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