Mastedon - 3
Mastedon was born from those that left Kansas to find more spiritual AOR outlets and thus went forth and produced a duo of discs that garned quite a happy reception upon their release into this world. Many a year has passed since those albums were available, released in 1989 and 1990 respectively and now we find the band re-assembled and prepared to carry on the traditions of the past with "3".

John Elefante's vocals are summer sweet and the guitars take many stances to compliment the twists and turns of retro-style around the disc's playlist. They break out the old Hammonds, the lush steadfast harmonies, and a vast assorted array of musical styles that they slip into like donning a new outfit for each song. Playing musical chairs in this manner works for them, as they display many sides to themselves, and eventually a song or two should fit just about right for any listener that has been itching to be bowled over by sounds from days long past, given fresh perspective, of course. Also listen for the guitar duo of Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon) who returns to his place behind the lead axe, alongside ex-Kansas-er Kerry Livgren making his Mastedon debut (and who has not worked with Elefante since the Kansas days).

And for an album that relies on vintage sounds to supply the fuel for its nostalgia trip, "3" mostly succeeds. From the driving Whitesnake pounding rhythms and synth fills of the can't-stop-the-rock thumping opener "Revolution of Mind", to the Boston-like massive ballad touch for "Nowhere Without Your Love" and its tripped out 70s musical middle - "3" is all about exploring a time forgotten pallette of rock sounds from a few decades left in the dusty past. It has the taste and flavor to be a true followup, not just a re-imagining, or a "modern" spin, if you will, and reaches even further back than the original Mastedon albums did.

"One Day Down the Lake (See You Real Soon)" has the synth and vocal setups and patterns of Rush and Starcastle, giving this tune a meandering prog rock experience feel that has the listener feeling like they are being lead on a journey full of twisting roads with sights aplenty to partake in along its way. "Water Into Wine" is pure 70s rock n roll right down to the vocal production and runaway synthesizers. Someone needs to put a leash on those keys. "Questions" is a morally conscious piece that does just as the title suggests, opening the soap box for all sorts of questions to arise. Its open manner gives a sense of freedom while inquiries are flying by.

The album's melodic height is the fevered, "You Can't Take Anything" that has the bite of a "Head Games" Foriegner with a spiritual spin. From the cranking synths and especially in the Gramm-esque vocal mannerisms, this one rocks up the album and throws a deliciously smashing chorus on the fire for good measure. A fun, sing-a-long addictive little track that seems to have time traveled straight from 1978 (or thereabouts).

Also beaming across time unknown is "Lying" that has the guitars and hooks from a Brad Delp (R.I.P.) Boston song and some smooth midrange vocals for the verses which sound as great as the higher pitched ones which come out for the chorus climax. Those Elefante boys are talented. "That's What You Do" has thick rhythm heavy guitars that are at odds with the swirly twirly synth and lighthearted vocals but are happily bridged by the thunder rough bass lines. Great melodies and a slightly more modern feel makes this a stand out piece.

"3" delves headfirst into dishing out classic rock from the days gone by. Nothing here is particularly original (especially if you happen to be a fan of music from this period, you could easily dig up dozens of bands that did something very similar...back then), then again it is special in a way, for there are few outfits that are pursuing these sounds in the here-and-now. Perhaps not essential, as there are a few songs that bog down the album, and a few missteps taken that feel flat now and then, but overall its a solid bet all-around. Besides, its a real treat to hear John back behind the mic.

Written by Alanna
Monday, November 16, 2009
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Comment by Brian (Staff) - Thursday, November 19, 2009
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Great to read that Frontiers are reissuing the 2 legendary Mastedon albums. Melodic rock at its absolute finest.

Posted by Brian (Staff)
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review by Alanna

Released by
Frontiers - 2009

1. Revolution of Mind
2. Slay Your Demons
3. Nowhere Without Your Love
4. One Day Down by the Lake (See You Real Soon)
5. Water Into Wine (Fassa Rokka)
6. Questions (It's About Time)
7. You Can't Take Anything
8. Lying
9. The Western World
10. That's What You Do
11. Dust in the Wind

Melodic rock

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