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Mad Puppet - Masque  CD (album) cover

MASQUE

Mad Puppet

 

Neo-Prog

3.19 | 20 ratings

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progrules
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Mad Puppet must have been one of the very first neo progressive bands for with their first official release, this Masque album, they were around before Marillion and IQ albeit that Marillion was there in the same year with their MSH EP. That leaves probably just Twelfth Night as the one that was around sooner. Anyway, Mad Puppet is from Italy and that's a whole different area than Great Britain, the cradle of neo. So the least we can do is check out what this first album was like. I had to get used a bit at first but in the end it proved to be a very interesting debut.

1. Wild Rushing Waters is a nice sounding melodic song with dominant keyboards though a pretty fierce guitar tries to be very present as well. I like very much what Manfred Kaufmann is showing in this opening track. A few impressing guitar performances as well by the way. 3,75*.

2. Look out has actually a very interesting opening riff that reminds me of Spooky by Atlanta Rhythm Section that was a hit over here around the same time. Could be coincidence or just an influence. Rest of the song sounds quite different anyway. Again a nice one but less impressive than previous. 3,25*.

3. The Masque of the Red Death (title track ?) starts with nice flute and keys accompanied by laid back acoustic guitar. Lovely opening section of this almost epical track. After these first three minutes the usual sound emerges again with the organ-like keys and the typical recognizable vocals of Manfred Schweigkofler. The names of these Italians sound German and that is because they are from northern Italy where more people have those kind of names. A theatrecal middle part breaks the song in two parts, it reminds a bit of Fish's acts on Marillion's debut. Harpsichord sounds and flute make the song go on giving it a medieval touch. 3,75*.

4+5 Icarus Part I and II is in a way the other epic on this album clocking 13:30 in total. Mad Puppet are already showing on this debut that they are good composers. The longer songs have a structured build up, it all sounds pretty mature. Part I is a vocal part, Part II starts with fast keys and drumming later on guitar joins in completing a very compelling instrumental section. Vocals arrive in next section making the diversity complete. Guitar sounds like Eloy I suddenly realize. The song gets better and better. This must be the absolute highlight. 4*.

6. Wheels of Time has a bit of a Camel feel in the beginning, rest of the song is the Mad Puppet I've really grown used to. This is not the very best song of them all but still very respectable. 3,25*.

At first I was sure this was going to be a three star effort but after this individual reviewing of each song I have to admit 3 stars is selling them short. And mainly looking at the year of issue I think this whole performance deserves 4 stars after all, though rounded up (3,6).

progrules | 4/5 |

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