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MENTAUR is a British band that was formerly known as Mordred, who released material during the 80s and early 90s, through demo tapes until they issued a real output that goes by the name of "Darkness Before Dawn", that acts as a kind of Best-Of for the band's previous unsigned stuff. This album contains two 20' pieces: "The Last Battle" and "Days of Wrath", that encapture all that was made by them during their career. Rough vocals, energetic and melodic instrumental and breaks with superb guitar and keyboard work.

MENTAUR music is rather dark and sometimes heavy showing influences from several neo-progressive bands like Marillion, Aragon, Pallas and Abel Ganz as well as others like Saga, Magellan, Shadow Gallery and World Trade and is also characterized by impacting melodies and sharp guitar riffs. MENTAUR sound will certainly fill the taste of prog fans in general.

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Darkness Before Dawn by MentaurDarkness Before Dawn by Mentaur
Audio CD$77.02

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MENTAUR discography

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3.18 | 12 ratings
Darkness Before Dawn

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Darkness Before Dawn  by MENTAUR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.18 | 12 ratings

Darkness Before Dawn
Mentaur Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A really obscure British Prog act from late-80's, obviously influenced by the Neo Prog movement primarly of their existence.Mentaur started as Mordred in 1989, led by Tim Ridley (keyboards) and Nick Ridley (bass) also with Ed Lepper on drums and Robin Barter on guitars.The band changed a few singers through the years, recording several short and longer demos, until finally they disbanded in 1994.However in 1996 Cyclops showed interest in their material and released a compilation of Menatur's demos, entitled ''Darkness Before Dawn''.Most of the songs feature Carlton Evans on vocals, except for a couple sung by Steve Cochrane.

Mentaur simply turned the back on easy-listening and pleasant music and this compilation is full of dark-sounding Neo Prog with AOR and Hard Rock touches.Additionally it contains a pair of grand epics on a trully uncommercial move on their behalf.The 15-min. ''Day of Wrath'' is simply outstanding with strong ARENA and early PALLAS resemblances, swirling around groovy but rich musicianship and complex keyboard acrobatics, featuring also excellent vocals and occasionally stepping into more Metal-related grounds.Bombastic, powerful composition with very solid songwriting.The 23-min. ''The Last Battle'' is definitely the most ambitious piece written by the band.It is split in four movements and offers a haunting, epic Prog Rock along the lines of ASGARD with dramatic and expressive singing parts, symphonic instrumental textures, dark background soundscapes and flashy keyboard solos, add another winner in the list of Mentaur's material.These tracks alone make this album worth owning.The rest of this compilation consists of shorter cuts, ranging from 3 to 7 minutes, with a slightly more straight approach, still filled with memorable tunes and even demanding musicianship.The guitar work is more groovy, the choruses more easy-going and the structures of the songs rather easier, but series of impressive vocal performances, guitar solos and bombastic synths guarantee a good listening experience.

This group deserved much more than it actually got.''Darkness Before Dawn'' will have a certain appeal to all fans of dramatic Neo Prog and keyboard-led Heavy Prog, for whom it comes warmly recommended.

 Darkness Before Dawn  by MENTAUR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.18 | 12 ratings

Darkness Before Dawn
Mentaur Neo-Prog

Review by Aragon

1 stars Marillion, Pallas or Arena influencies? No...this isn't the kind of Neoprog u're's much in heavy progres vein... The music isn't excellent....the production is very bad...there are empty moments, where u hear just drum and guitars, or where u hear just drum and keyboards, or even where u hear only drum!!! and some raw synth effects here and there. If you like raw heavy or even thrash metal with a bit of AORish synth...probably you'll enjoy this album...but otherwise stay away from this. Im not sure how rate it...1 or 2...Ok there are average keys and guitars solos, but the sound of the keys is really ridicolous, and it's not much enough to turn good an album that has many faulties
 Darkness Before Dawn  by MENTAUR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.18 | 12 ratings

Darkness Before Dawn
Mentaur Neo-Prog

Review by Mordrydd

4 stars As the keyboard player and writer of the bulk of Mentaur's music, I don't suppose it's fair to self- promote, but as there's no money involved I'm going to!

Thanks to SouthSideoftheSky for noticing Mentaur, languishing in prog doldroms for many years now. Once a year or so I dig out the old demos (4 of which I have as digital copies) and enjoy a blast from the past. As recorded in the previous review, the production quality from these tapes (and eventually the CD) directly reflects the amount of money we had - i.e. precisely none. I'd like to think that the quality of the music and the musicianship shines through, but at times it's quite heavily masked...! Being in a prog band between 1989 and 1994 was not straightforward. Your music was condemned by many without even being played, it was hard to get gigs, the mainstream press treated you as a joke stuck in the past (although we did manage to secure a couple of decent reviews for live shows in Kerrang). Of course the great irony is that metal/hard rock in the '90s evolved into quite progressive material, with mainstream bands starting to release material along the lines of the stuff we were doing five years earlier.

If you can pick up a copy of Darkness Before Dawn, while I cannot guarantee you that all tracks will be to your taste, I do hope and believe that you would find enough quality music/musicianship to justify the risk of purchase. Several songs demonstrate heavy riffing, in a Dream Theater/Queensryche way, but the production skills never existed to capture the sound we wanted in the studio. Live was defintely the best way to get a feel for what Mentaur was trying to do, as we were certainly trying to be the heaviest prog band out there. Unfortunately that is not really clear from this CD. There are moments of the two formally mentioned bands (though note that only When Dream and Day Unite had been released when we wrote the bulk of our material, and DT were pretty underground at the time, certainly in the UK). Guitarist Rob Barter was a great fan of both Dave Gilmour and Gary Moore, and his playing style sits somewhere between these two, with the solo at the end of Distant Ways still one of the best Comfortably Numb alternatives out there. I'm still really proud of our epics, Day of Wrath and The Last Battle, which I think stand as two of the great prog epics ever - but then I would say that wouldn't I?

As a "summary" of Mentaur's career, Darkness Before Dawn makes a great introduction to what the band was trying to do. Suspend the expectation of 21st century production, remember that these recordings were made on a shoestring budget, partially in bedrooms and I am sure you will enjoy much of this. To whet your appetite, Mentaur have a myspace page with a few tracks from DBD, plus some memories from other demos, If you are one of the old fans and would like digital copies of some of the old demos, PM me. Revive some Mentaur interest 20 years on!

 Darkness Before Dawn  by MENTAUR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.18 | 12 ratings

Darkness Before Dawn
Mentaur Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars The last battle

Here is another obscure British band who was mistreated by their times. There is very little information on the band to be found on the web, but as far I understand from the little I've found they started out calling themselves Mordred sometime in the 1980's and then changed their name to Mentaur somewhere along the line. The present CD that was released on Cyclops records in 1996 remains Mentaur's only official release and functions as a kind of "best off"- album, gathering the highlights from the band's several demos that were recorded during the 80's and 90's.

The sound of Mentaur brings to mind early Pallas, Arena, a bit of Twelfth Night, and even a touch of raw Heavy Metal. All of the nine songs are very good, but the two epics that open and close the album are especially excellent. There is a nice variation between ballads and rockers. One of the songs is a live recording, emphasizing the compilation nature of the disc. If I had been the band, I would have put this one at the end as a bonus track. The 20 minute plus, four-part suite The Last Battle, is based on the familiar legend of King Arthur and as such it is somewhere in between Kayak's Merlin suite (the excellent original version from 1981, not the musical-like re-make) and Rick Wakeman's Myths And Legends Of King Arthur. Some of the keyboard solos are indeed a bit Wakeman-like. This music is very much my cup of tea, it's a shame that such good material remains so unknown.

The sound of the drums and vocals is not perfect, but the guitars and keyboards sound good enough. This is admittedly a rough diamond, but it is indeed a diamond. Fans of the heavier and darker sides of Neo-Prog might enjoy it, as indeed did I. I initially became interested in the album just in virtue of the dark cover picture when I stumbled upon it here on PA. Needless to add, I would never have heard of this band if it wasn't for this website. A very pleasant surprise, out of nowhere.

Seemingly completely overlooked, but highly recommended!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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