One of Canadian's now most visible progressive rock bands is back. The quartet's new studio offering The World Is A Game is a stupendously melodic and variably chops-intensive affair that exploits familiar if dynamic prog rock tropes yes, there's a "side-length epic" as it was called in vinyl's heyday. The collective results etch new grooves in the ongoing mosaic of melodic progressive rock that will resonate with listeners for time to come.
After filling the vocal chair in Yes for a time the subject of cross-longitudinal discussion across the InterWeb Benoit David is, to suffer the adage, "back where he belongs." Benoit's vocal style and timbre are his usual tri-analog of Jon Anderson, Dennis DeYoung and Geddy Lee he's in fine form, and followers of the band know what they're getting. Some personnel shifts are noticeable in the rhythm section with Spaced Out bass god Antoine Fafard and Spock's Beard drummer Nick D'virgilio. Mystery's keyboardist Michel St-Pιre also picks up a guitar here and there, with an assist on acoustic by Fafard.
"Pride" starts out sounding like a Rush song sung by Enchant's Ted Leonard. While the effect is no doubt unintentional, it still comes off like a good gimmick. Lilting synth passages are complemented by Fafard's bass and a spirited Gilmouresque guitar lead that lend quite a Floydian feel. A similar ethic is apparent in "Superstar" with its spectral washes of synthetic strings draped over Benoit's vocal lament, a song that is punctuated by a sequence of evocative guitar solos. Comparably, the title track, rouser that it is, and "Someone Else" register the MOR quotient a bit strongly in the wake of some well-crafted songs. Nothing wrong with a little empasis on prog rock time and again.
Game's epic is an unabashed paean to symph-tailored indulgences and energetic rockin.' There's are moments that invoke the likes of Dream Theater, Saga and even Pendragon. While the song takes the expected turns through darker and lighter and harder and softer, the concluding instrumental payoff is where the band really shines with more stately synth solos and call-and-response drum 'n bass antics courtesy of Nick & Ant. It's fair to estimate they one-upped more than one tandem that they owe their respective careers to.
The World Is A Game is a clarion for Mystery, whose marbled totem on the highway of Canadian prog alongside Rush, Nightwinds, Saga, Etcetera, Harmonium, Hamadryad and Karcius has secured its base.
1. A Morning Rise (1:18)
2. Pride (11:28)
3. Superstar (6:59)
4. The Unwinding of Time (0:49)
5. The World is a Game (7:57)
6. Dear Someone (6:21)
7. Time Goes By (6:04)
8. Another Day (19:02)
Total Time 59:58