MYSTERY (Canada) – Redemption (2023)

MYSTERY (Canada) - Redemption (2023) - full

Canadians MYSTERY was founded in 1986 by Michel St-Père, while a new impetus started some time ago with the arrival of new lead singer Jean Pageau. The band evolved from an AOR style to STYX, KANSAS towards proggy rock on RUSH and SAGA, focusing on solos and acoustic atmospheres, breaks and catchy melodies for a progressive rock formation respected for its sophisticated delivery.
The striking artwork gracing the cover of ”Redemption”, the eighth and latest studio album this Québec sextet, seems to mirror the feeling of hope that in 2023 we are finally climbing out of a dreary and trying few years, prompting new growth and with brighter days ahead.
St-Père likes a full, rich melodic sound and crystal-clear sonics. Producing and mixing the album himself, he strikes a good balance between instruments and allows the powerful vocals of Pageau to shine. A greedier musician might take the opportunity to showcase his own playing above all else – and he is a great guitarist – but St-Père has been around long enough to know what best serves the music, and his choices are sensible ones.
The results of ”Redemption” are simply gorgeous.

Opener “Behind the Mirror” explodes out of the gates with a riveting display of colossal melody and rock-solid pace, with a divine chorus stamped with classic prog excellence, as all the elements explained above coalesce into this catchy, typical Mystery brand of genius. Instantaneously detectable and swiftly delectable for evermore.
The title track just keeps the emotional pedal at full throttle, but in a gentler style, as the clanging guitar weavings intersperse within the ambitious drumbeats, as the double chorus builds gradually (I am a total sucker for that kind of dual elevation). Tectonic sonic mountains and valleys make this one hell of an emotional ride, with tormented and vibrant lyrics about salvation (“Shall I be sorry until the end of time?”). A classic.

The hauntingly magnificent “The Beauty and the Least” is the proverbial power ballad, quite reminiscent of one of my favourite Mystery tunes “The Sailor and the Mermaid”, even the titles sound like close cousins. The passion, atmosphere, and the melody is off the charts, with a little old school prog mid-section led by Fournier’s bass doing a fab Mike Rutherford, acoustic guitars emulating ticking clocks, a slippery electric guitar solo, the whole just revving up into this gigantic eruption of sweltering symphonics, provided by Michaud and his keyboard arsenal. Nine minutes plus of lethal prog.
A superb, thoughtful, and sensitive slow tune appears on “Every Note”, certainly targeting hopeless romantics like yours truly. Aural divinity is to be found in another chorus that is just plain jaw-dropping in its straightforward delivery and yet convincing emotion. Pageau certainly can hit the high notes without any hesitation or holding back. It seems effortless and it is.

Another extended piece, running over a dozen minutes, “Pearls and Fire” reverts to more overreaching bravado that is their claim to fame, the lyrical content aimed now at the difficult road of male puberty when forced to live without a father figure. There is also a historic slant as the main protagonist (Leo) a goes off to war, to prove his worth and that “his father wasn’t right”. He must literally soldier on and fight. A tortuous guitar solo is illuminated by a searchlight, immune to the flak, as it builds up into a furiously wild machine. The extended instrumental work confirms the impeccable chops this band has in spades. This is exuberant, in your face, electrically powered prog. Great one.

Though far from a commercial sounding track, ”My Inspiration” does offer an honest accessibility that should never be dismissed as fluff. It’s carefree, inspired and impressive, as the immense and intense melody is wrapped in a perfectly executed arrangement
The eventual goodbye is appearing on the horizon, so “Homecoming” serves as the reminder that soon, ‘You finally wake up from your slumber’ and return to the routine of life purified, waiting for another thrill or joy to satisfy your cravings.

The curtain drops with a 19 minute + colossus “Is This How the Story Ends?” and possesses all the characteristics of a progressive rock epic, taking its time to develop, hone, focus, swerve, rise and then dip, on a thrilling musical roller coaster. The main melody is then indelibly stamped on the proceedings so as the undoubtedly establish the backbone on which everything else holds together.
This is the kind of old school prog moment, earphones firmly screwed in, with no restrictions or distractions. The various chapters fit into a comfortably numb pattern, like the whispering early section being a sheer delight, as the arrangement picks up steam like a locomotive that is rapidly losing its breath. Pageau certainly has the lungs to keep shoving melodic air into this furnace of a song. Raging twin guitars reign supreme as Michel crisses and Sylvain crosses with devilish precision, JS bashing mercilessly his certifiably abused kit.

I try to avoid repeating myself as much as possible, which is why I constantly search for synonyms in my writing style, but Redemption is an outright Classic-In-The-Making. Not a single wasted or useless second.
There is ultimately no mystery here, it’s just Mystery.
Highly Recommended


01 – Behind the Mirror
02 – Redemption
03 – The Beauty and the Least
04 – Every Note
05 – Pearls and Fire
06 – My Inspiration
07 – Homecoming
08 – Is This How the Story Ends?

Jean Pageau – vocals
Antoine Michaud – keyboards
François Fournier – bass, keyboards
Jean-Sébastien Goyette – drums
Sylvain Moineau – guitars
Michel St-Pere – guitars, keyboards



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