Jim Johnston made this album for himself but friends convinced him to release this album. The first new Jaugernaut release in over 20 years. Jim who played most of the instruments, except some guitar solo's who were done by Jim Brammer, describes it as “a pure, progressive Album oriented pomprock”. “Contra-Mantra” tells an interpretive and speculative story of the origins of Evil. It was originally going to be over 100 minutes long, but Jim have decided to release it in two pieces. “Contra-Mantra” book II will be released early next year to complete the tale.
First of all I must admit that I have never heard the PompRock records of twenty years ago. Well I don't think that this was my thing. After some rock and blues I was already present in the early seventies to listen and to enjoy all the new symphonic and progressive rock-acts. This new album has some PompRock influences. Mainly in the melodic multi vocal parts.
After the short intro a synthesizer part is announcing the first long track “Anthem”. After some PompRock influences a slow part follows with delicate vocals and acoustic guitar. There has been put a lot of time into the vocals. This counts for the whole album. Also you can hear the first of the melodic guitar solos played by Jim Brammer. The last past is again up-tempo and with a rock voice that reminds of Cannata and the vocalist of Aragon. A good opener for this concept album. Next track is “The damage is done” a melodic rock song with a catchy vocal refrain. The synth solos gives the music a little bit a prog flavor. But it is a rock song. “Better living” opens with distorted vocals (never have understand this kind of thing). But soon the fat synth sound returns. Next is another long track (14 minutes) “Thru anarchy/The hard way” which has a delicate acoustic guitar like in the better Rush albums. The sound reminds me of the “A farewell to kings” album. The best thing of this album is the variation in the keyboard sounds who are generating different atmospheres. This makes this album also interesting for prog lovers. “Vanity” is again an up-tempo rock piece. Melodic vocals and rock guitars. To be honest not very interesting for me. “A different world” is also a rock piece. I'm sorry to say but the album is losing my attention. The last song “All I see is gray” is a ballad with acoustic guitar and has some nice melodies.
The long tracks “Anthem” and “Thru anarchy/The hard way” are the most interesting for the progressive rock fans. But it is not a groundbreaking progressive album. It is more mainstream rock with some PompRock influences. AOR lovers will have a good time with this good rock album. only after the release of part two we can say if this was a good decision. What I was missing were the lyrics. Always important for a concept album. But I enjoyed listening to this album. You decide if this is an album for you.