Red Masque, The - Death Of The Red Masque

Year of Release: 2001
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: -
Format: CD
Total Time: 34:05:00

The Red Masque aren't what I was expecting, though I can't exactly tell you what I was expecting. Perhaps I was expecting another Ameri-prog band in the mold of Echolyn, Spock's Beard or Tristan Park, or something. But instead The Red Masque's sound is arty, avant-garde prog along the lines of King Crimson, if even more angular than that. Vocalist Lynette Shelly sounds like a Lana Lane possessed by Siouxsie Sioux, Martha Davies, Ann Wilson, and Laurie Anderson. A very rich, deep, and sultry voice but not at all masculine. The music itself is very angular with a metal ferocity without the metal attack. Although there wasn't an official pre-NEARfest show, The Red Masque and Land Of Chocolate played a pseudo-pre-NEARfest date. This band would have fit snuggly in between Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, Djam Karet and White Willow, with more emphasis on those first two. There's a raw power here that is quite attractive, it's like a brutal accident that you can't tear your eyes away from as the bodies are splayed quite spectacularly in positions you didn't think were possible for the body to be in. Well, that's just the first track, "Tidal," of this three track EP.

"A Moon Falls," begins as a much gentler tune, light and lyrical with shimmering percussion, high and airy vocals from Shelley, and harp. There's a medieval feel here that seems more right for my expectations, but?never fear, this band is soon back to it brutal, beautiful self. Mastermind suddenly came to mind, though I think The Red Masque are little more eccentric in their arrangements. This medieval is evocative of how it must have been, dark, harsh, dirty, dangerous ? not the stuff of fairy tales. The Red Masque throw in a lot of stuff here, as you get some heavy symphonics here, too, the underside of Yes, the Yes that Yes doesn't show?Yes gone over the edge. Those keys are courtesy Nathan-Andrew Dewin who also plays harp (perhaps that wasn't acoustic guitar then?). Rounding out this Pennsylvania-based quintet are Steve Blumberg on guitar, Kevin Kelly on drums and percussion, and Brandon Ross on bass?here these three together, you can't help but think they were at least a little bit influenced by the mighty Crimson.

"Ended Ways" is said to be an improv track -- this is so angular as to be abstract. Sheets of searing metallic guitar shred over booming bass and pounding drums, taking this into prog metal realms, the pulse of it almost hypnotic. Then, as the furies are slowly subsiding we get keening guitars and keyboard effects swirling about in a temporarily contained eddy, the entity it is howling for release. Drums and percussion provide sit below the demonic presence, in a strange area of calm. But, it is a calm this is slowly, almost imperceptibly shrinking -- in that the musical space between guitar-keys-bass-wordless vocals and the drums-percussion is growing smaller. Spatially, as the floor and ceiling are slowly coming together, joining the two masses together. By the end of the track, the calm has subsumed the fury?ended ways, indeed. But it all leaves you curious as to what happens next, where the band goes next.

All in all, this some terrific stuff that I really recommend you check out. It might be a little thick for those who like music with more breathing room, but if you want an intense sonic experience, then this is your band. This isn't the Death Of The Red Masque as the album is called, but the birth, and you get to play witness to it.

Tidal (10:40) / A Moon Falls (13:34) / Ended Ways improv (9:51)

Steve Blumberg - guitar
Nathan-Andrew Dewin - keys and harp
Kevin Kelly - drums and percussion
Brandon Ross - bass
Lynnette Shelley - vocals

Death Of The Red Masque (ep) (2001)
Victoria And The Haruspex (2002)
Feathers For Flesh (2004)
Fossil Eyes (2008)
Stars Fall On Me (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 18th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 898
Language: english


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