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Mystery - Delusion Rain CD (album) cover

DELUSION RAIN

Mystery

 

Neo-Prog

3.91 | 195 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Canadian band Mystery bounce back from the departure of long-term band member and lead vocalist Benoit David with `Delusion Rain' in 2015, a confident and pleasingly consistent work that should greatly appeal to both fans of the group and curious newcomers. Newly instated singer Jean Pagaeu effortlessly fits into the band and surprisingly doesn't sound unlike David, delivering the same deeply warm and relatable vocal tone his predecessor offered, so the transition between vocalists is more or less seamless. The six pieces on offer here again remind that Mystery are one of the best examples of a band that successfully crosses over between progressive and accessible (almost radio-friendly) rock, who always place the importance of an actual strong and melodic tune well before lengthy drawn-out soloing, even though they carefully execute those elements in plenty of restrained and effective moments throughout the hour long album as well.

The dramatic and serious ten-minute opener is almost a protest song, warning of politician's lies with Pagaeu's placid and wounded voice rising in strength for a pleading chorus. Bluesy Pink Floyd- ian slow burn electric guitar grandness and big heavy plodding drumming build the tension, and veils of Benoît Dupuis's brooding symphonic synths carefully take flight in the backdrop growing constantly in power. `If You See Her' is warmer and more obviously romantic, just the kind of track Mystery does so well. Guitars chime behind a sweetly affectionate lead vocal presenting a lovely wistful tune, and icy sleek Neo-flavoured synth interludes might remind some listeners briefly of I.Q. `The Last Glass of Wine' bristles with sleek electric guitar lines, as electric piano and shimmering synths perfectly convey the dream-like surreal lyrics.

The standout moment of the disc is the almost twenty-minute `The Willow Tree'. It truly is a showcase for both guitarists Sylvain Moineau and Michel St-Père who deliver all manner of sublime electric and acoustic passages, and this extended piece presents Mystery wholly embracing their prog credentials with the most frequent instrumental passages of the album. A perfect balance of winning vocal sections and instrumental flights that catch fire with a gutsiness of harder-driving guitars, whirring colourful synth-runs and Jean-Sébastien Goyette's rumbling drums that lift the piece to the heavens, and the slick direction and time-changes all effortlessly transition with great skill. This grand epic moment is sure to become a live concert favourite from the band, and it must rank as one of the best Mystery pieces ever, everything that the band does right falling expertly into place.

Despite as always focusing on the actual tune, `Wall Street King' is one of the heavier moments where some of the more bombastic sections wouldn't have sounded out of place on one of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Ayreon project albums, François Fournier's bass grumbling suitably thick and upfront in the instrumental passage in the middle. Album closer `A Song for You' initially retains the heaviness of the previous track, opening with gothic-like dark symphonic themes with manic organ and electric guitar wildness, perhaps not unlike British Neo-proggers Arena. It quickly tones down amongst breezes of flute wafting in and out of soaring guitar soloing, winning synth motifs and a high-energy instrumental stretch in the middle, and there's no doubting the sincerity when Pageau repeats the inspirational credo of "Leave all your fear behind, let your heart rule your mind, allow your dreams to come alive..."

Does this album maintain Mystery's momentum and offer another strong set of reliable and classy songs - for sure. At this point in their career with several albums behind them, could the band be taking a few more risks - absolutely. With their next studio album, it might be time for the band to change things up a little, maybe attempt a concept album, or even strip back the production polish for something a little more subdued and intimate - in other words move out of their comfort zone just a little. Mystery are now well and truly established with a strong fanbase of loyal followers, so they shouldn't be worried that being a little more daring (without sacrificing their melodic qualities) will scare off their audience. If anything, prog rock fans will only embrace them more than ever, and it might even bring in new listeners who sometimes dismiss the band as being a little lightweight or bland (none of which is true though!).

But `Delusion Rain' is still a very successful and pleasing album from a hugely talented band, perhaps Mystery's strongest release to date in many ways, that's sure to be warmly embraced by their fanbase, and it's another victory for song-based melodic prog-rock.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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