When I heard that Mars Hollow were returning to the studio to record a follow-up to their self titled debut, I thought to myself ‘how are they going to top that?‘. Well not only did they top it, they exceeded it especially in the production, thanks to Billy Sherwood. To me, the new album, World In Front Of Me is a very good example of how to do a progressive rock album. Nothing is forced on this album to make up the song lengths, which is a rarity in my opinion. This is album gets better every time I've listen to it.
They open up the album with an epic, “Walk On Alone” (12:31) which has a very nice a cappella intro followed by a powerful instrumental section. Lead vocalist/guitarist, John Baker has such a unique amazing voice. He’s not trying to sound like anyone except himself. Kerry Chicoine bass playing never sounded better. Jerry Beller’s drum sound is right in front of the mix. He hit’s the drums with such power and finesse. Steve Mauk keyboard sounds compliment the other instruments.
The next three tracks to me make up a trilogy of sorts. I think it‘s because they seamlessly flow into each other. So far, “Voices” (6:23) is one of my favorites of the Mars Hollow catalog. In the almost seven minutes, I think it showcases the band’s infectious signature sound. It could also easily be the lead hit single in my book. “Weapon” (6:52) continues in that signature sound.
“What Have I Done” (5:56) starts off on a softer tone and has Kerry’s trademark bass sound, which is more prominent on this album than on their debut. This song also has that infectious signature sound. This is probably my second favorite song off the album.
Next up is the shortest vocal based track on this album, “Mind Over Matter” (2:27). It’s primarily an acoustic guitar piece with some augmentation from the keyboards.
“Prelude” (1:48) is a short instrumental classical piano piece that leads right into the last title track, “World In Front Of Me” (11:18).
This is the perfect way to end an excellent album, in an epic way. After an almost 3 minute instrumental part, the vocals kick in. Here we have that infectious signature sound but in long form.
Just as soon as the album started, it ends but to be played again and again. World In Front Of Me is one of those rare albums that I want, need to hear the album several times. There’s something magical about those 4 musicians that when together they create some of the best and memorable music. To say it’s highly recommended isn’t enough. I’m going to say that without any doubt, if you’re a fan of melodic progressive rock, you will need this album ASAP!
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on July 17th, 2011