Mystery - Redemption

(CD 2023; 74:04, UNCR-5135 Unicorn Digital)

The tracks:
  1- Behind The Mirror(6:44)
  2- Redemption(6:36)
  3- The Beauty And The Least(9:15)
  4- Every Note(6:01)
  5- Pearls And Fire(12:43)
  6- My Inspiration(8:24)
  7- Homecoming(5:10)
  8- Is This How The Story Ends?(19:11)

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Mystery is a band from Canada that exists since 1986. Redemption is studio album number eight. The founder of the band is Michel St-Père and the only remaining member since the start. Nowadays the band consists of Jean Pageau who is the vocalist, plays keyboards and flute, Michel St-Père who plays electric and acoustic guitars and keyboards, Francois Fournier who plays bass guitars, Taurus bass pedals, keyboards and tambourine, Sylvain Moineau who plays electric and acoustic guitars, Jean-Sébastian Goyette who plays drums and last but not least Antoine Michaud who plays keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars. In their entire back catalogue there are a number of great albums. For me The World Is A Game, One Among The Living and Delusion Rain are the best albums in my humble opinion. And with this albums, they are on the top of the neo prog nowadays.

It has been a while since Mystery gave the world another adventure in the form of a studio album. We have to go back to 2018 when they released Lies And Butterflies (see review). Of course the pandemic also put Mystery on hold. I follow the band since they released album number six, Delusion Rain. That album grabbed me by the throat and had a lot of spins in my player. When Lies And Butterflies saw the light of day my expectations were high. If I am honest, I was a bit disappointed because the band tried to innovate too little. What I heard on that album was a bit the same as I heard before. A little anxious I started to listen to Redemption because I hoped that they found new fire so they could surprise me again. Well, did they? Just keep on reading this review where I will describe the individual songs.

Behind The Mirror
With exploding drums the album starts, directly you know it is Mystery because the sound of Mystery you can recognize out of thousands. The song is up-tempo and a little aggressive. All the elements of a good Mystery song are in it, it is a joy to listen to. There is a great guitar solo and while you listen to that, you can also hear great drumming, as if it is a duel without being a duel. In this first song the band is on fire and there was not a better way to start the album. You are directly into the album and only want to listen what will come next, great job!

And then there is Redemption, the title track of the album. The song starts ominously, Jean Pageau is on fire here, what an emotion can he express, wow. The first few minutes it is all about Jean, the spotlight is on his head. The song builds on the tension and that fits very well. It is also a darker side of the band. This kind of directions I missed on the previous album, so again, well done. A lovely song in my opinion. If I listen to this song I have to admit that the volume button always goes to the max because you want to be in the song, maybe because of the themes, the dark side or the growls in the background of Antoine. The song ends how it starts, spooky.

The Beauty And The Least
So wow, now we have a bit more easy listening song, after the power of the first one and the darker second one. Well, is The Beauty And The Least what we need? The start of the song is really powerful with another exploding drumming from Jean-Sebastian followed up by a lovely guitar solo, but hey, then the song slows down and there is a part that is more mellow. You can even hear singing together like a kind of choir, in my opinion not the right time but who am I? Later in the song there is time to build up, be spooky again, time for beautiful guitar playing and solos. This song is almost ten minutes long so there is time enough to create something. The building up takes a few minutes and good music to listen to. So if we evaluate the first three songs, they are all some more heavy and I really like that. So far so good.

Every Note
This song is another one for Jean Pageau in the spotlight. It is a real ballad, really sugar sweet and at that point some people will pass and go to the next song I guess. For me it is another ballad as I heard from the band. It is okay to listen to but it is surely not my favourite song of the album. The guitar solo towards the end is magnificent, that is surely the trademark of the band.

Pearls And Fire
After the last notes of Every Note has passed away, it is time for a song that touches me, Pearls And Fire. I am happy that it is a long song, more than 12 minutes long. It starts again with nice cymbals from Jean-Sebastian. Lyrically it is a monster of a song, maybe I do recognize myself in the lyrics and for me that is a pre. Musical wise the first half of the song is absolutely Mystery, but not from the outstanding class of what we already know, maybe because of the importance of the lyrics. It all sounds good and cohesive. Halfway the song moves to some more war-field ways and then the music becomes more important. I can enjoy this music so much because it touches you again, it grabs you and never let you go and that is really good. In my opinion this song is one of the best on the album. Some keyboard sounds reminds me of the band Europe, a band that was important when I was a teenager.

My Inspiration
It starts with melodic guitar playing, slowly because it sounds like a ballad again. It is, again, for Jean Pageau. Some people will put the next song button again because it is really sweet again, but if you like Jean for his voice, you will listen to the whole song. What I like in this song is the Taurus pedal from Francois now and then. The guitar playing is suburb again. In my opinion the middle section of the song could be a few minutes shorter because it repeats itself too much. The second half of the song is building up, more Taurus pedals and more powerful. For some people the song is too sweet, for the real Mystery fans it is another great song.

With singing together Homecoming starts, and this time I really like the singing together because it really fits in what you hear. Another true Mystery song, but different and refreshing. The guitar takes control of your emotions and you can only cry if the guitar speaks. This is so so Mystery, great! Unfortunately this is the shortest song. For me this song could have been a few minutes longer because it grabs you and hold you. Towards the end the keyboard is fantastic, a beautiful solo. Live you can see how Antoine is smiling behind his keyboard by playing this solo. Also Homecoming is one of my favourites.

Is This How The Story Ends?
The last one then, and it is a long one, almost twenty minutes. What has been given to us is a nice piece of music with all the Mystery elements in it. It is played up tempo the first few minutes. Than it takes some rest, what is normal in such a long song. There is room for everybody, beautiful guitar playing, nice singing, also together, great rhythm section and also the keyboard may do it's thing. Now and then slow, building up, going from left to right, from low to high and everything you can imagine is passing by. It is a good song, but this is not the best song of the album in my opinion because it misses some solos.

My conclusion of what I wrote above is that I can enjoy this Mystery album more than the previous one. The band has made another great album with more fire in the songs. I hope that they will make more music in this way, with a few less ballads because it is slowing down the album and surely not necessary. Thumbs up for this band, go and grab your copy of this great album.

**** Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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