The Canadian Progressive Rock band Mystery first caught my attention with their amazing album “The World is Just a Game” back in 2012 and they have been on an upward trajectory ever since. But how about their new album, simply called “Redemption”? Is it as good as its predecessor, “Lies and Butterflies”?
But first, let’s delve a little deeper into the band’s history, shall we? I promise that I will keep it as brief as possible so I won’t mention any anecdotes about member’s pet peeves, whether or not they enjoy traversing potholes in the road outside their house that should have been filled ages ago and really makes the blood boil or if any of them keep a porcelain elf in every single window of their house in order to signal to the ELF Rebellion Armada (E.R.A) that they are sympathizers for the Elf cause and will be safe from harm once the Uprising happens next september.
Mystery was formed all the way back in 1986 by guitarist and multiinstrumentalist Michel St-Pere and debuted with a self-titeled EP in 1992. A full length album, “Theatre of The Mind” was released in 1996 and was followed by “Destiny?” in 1998.
Biding their time, quite some time passed until the next lifesign from the band but what a lifesign it was, as 2007’s “Beneath The Veil of Winter’s Face” was not only their first record with the phenomenal vocalist Benoit David, the song material was stronger than ever before as well. Benoit would record an additional two records, the aforementioned “The World is Just a Game” and 2010’s “One Among The Living” while also becoming the frontman for one of the forefathers of the genre, Progressive Rock titans Yes. He later left Mystery to fully concentrate on Yes but a severe bout of laryngitis sadly forced him into an early retirement.
As is the fact for many a band, losing their singer is not a preferred scenario but Lady Luck (No relation to Gaga) smiled upon them when the phenomenal singer, keyboardist and fluteplayer, Jean Pageau joined the ranks. With his amazing vocal range, immense charisma and stage precense, Mystery struck gold.
Their next two releases, “Delusion Rain” (2015) and 2018’s “Lies and Butterflies” would further cement the bands reputation as one of the leading forces in the genre and their frequent touring both in Canada, USA and Europe proved over and over again what a great live band they are to boot.
There. That get’s us up to the present and now it’s time to have a closer look at their new opus, “Redemption”. I better get it over with right away; I absolutely love this band. There’s is something in their music that hits just the right spots in my musical DNA. Mystery has a melodic sense that a very selected few have as far as I’m concerned, regardless of genre. If Mystery was a drink, the bartender would pick one part Pink Floyd, with their rich, smooth and airy atmosphere. A pinch of melodic hard rock and touch of Prog Metal is also added. Then he would put a good helping of technical proficiency in the mixer, add plenty of melancholic romanticism and mix it all together and voila’: not only Quebec’s best band… No and I am aware that people will put a price on my head for uttering such blasphemic nonsense. Mystery is Canada’s best band according to your now fugutive reviewer. Yes, better than Rush.
While you let that sink in, I’m gonna go and do a parameter check and look out for assassins. And ninjas. Ninjas are cool.
As I write this, album closer “Is This How The Story Ends” is played at a volume that usually would lead to law enforcement interference but happily enough my neighbours are old and hard of hearing so I think I can play this beautiful song as loud as it deserves. Band leader and guitarist extraordinaire, Michel St-Pere’s playing throughout the entire album is nothing but sublime. And I feel obligated to list and name the band members as they are frelling fantastic musicians all of them.
As of now Mystery concists of:
Michel St-Père – guitars, keyboards, bass (1986–present)
Jean Pageau – lead vocals, flute (2014–present)
François Fournier – bass (2014–present; touring member – 2008–2014)
Sylvain Moineau – guitars (2014–present; touring member – 2012–2014; hiatus – 2014)
Jean-Sébastien Goyette – drums (2014–present; touring member – 2013–2014)
Antoine Michaud – keyboards (2016–present), guitars (touring member – 2014)
Favourite songs you ask? Well there’s a bunch of them and this is a band that simply doesn’t put weak songs on their albums and this just continue to ring true. But instead of being lazy and just state that I can’s choose since they’re all so good, here’s my top three.
The title track reminds me of the equally brilliant “Something to Believe in” (from Lies and Butterflies) and “If You See Her” (Delusion Rain) with its long build up of melancholic majesty.
And since I’m infamous for saying that anything under 10 minutes should be considered as intro’s, the next two is the true epics of “Redemption”, “Pearls and Fire” (a short but sweet little thing coming in at 12.43) and the aforementioned “Is This How The Story Ends?” (19.11 of awesome, basically).
Now I must adress the question posed in the beginning of this review. Is it as good as it’s predecessor, “Lies and Butterflies”? The answer is an resounding yes!
I have been having wild discussions with myself… No, strike that. Debates describes it better, about how I should score this. Just so that you know, I have met quite a lot of criticism for rewarding almost all records I review with a score of 7 or higher. Here’s the thing: I’m not getting paid to do this, I do it because I love it and I ALWAYS choose which albums I want to review so the ones I pick has a chance to be something that I will really, really like. Ok?
“Redemption” is amazing and every single individual in the world should buy at least one copy. It’s that good. This is another homerun for the Canadians.
Album name: Redemption
Label: Unicorn Digital
Release date: 15th of May 2023
Favourite songs: Redmption, Pearls and Fire, Is This How The Story Ends
Greetings! I´m a prog nerd that loves long, epic songs, my wife, my dog and harbours a severe addiction to all things Doctor Who.
"...this is a band that simply doesn't put weak songs on their albums and this just continue to ring true"