La Mansión - Where dreams lie - 2000
Mexicos La Mansion could easily be grouped into the 90s wave of prog metal but in fact, they are closer in sound to the 70s hard Kraut Rockers like Jane, Guru Guru, Prof. Wolf, and Bullfrog. Their sound is spacey, mystical and riff oriented. Precision and speed is not a factor that drives the music.
Fans of technical metal, in fact, will find La Mansions sound way too loose and their virtuosity is moderate at best. Even the sound recording is muddy in places. However, upon each listen, the atmospheric melodies of each song improve and are betrayed by some early mediocrity in the CD.
"The Dark View", track one opens the CD in the worse possible way with a straight up, almost clumsy rock riff. As with most songs on this CD, however, the song drifts into a quiet refrain that moodily sweeps us to the songs end. "Spiritual Damage" is a spoken poem (in French) back dropped by a steady bass line. It eventually erupts leading to "Creatures of the Nightfall", one of the best tracks on the CD. Building on a spacey melody, the song explodes at the end to a brilliant climax.
Song four, "Beyond the Bloody Dreams" gets back into the riffy stuff and never really takes off. Here, the band is trying to be like Dream Theater but they lack the expertise to pull it off. Thankfully, "Changin Mood" leads the band into their own sound and the CD never looks back. With an acoustic backbone, the instrumental is reminiscent of some of the finest moments from the classic Kraut Rock period. Things get even better on track 6, "Away". Trino Ascencios fine vocals carry the melody to resound like Golden Earring during their classic days. I love the lead guitar here which just soars.
"Fallen Eagle" is driven by deep, speed riffs proving this band can really rock when it wants to. The arrangements are a bit sparse, but the airy sound again reminds me of the classic prog rock of the 70s.
The very slow, moody "Learning to Die" makes good use of bass and acoustic guitar interplay. It, along with the CDs last "official" song, "Weekend", use the slow build up to a searing climax concept something Wishbone Ash did so well during its heydays.
The last three bonus tracks are live and though being nice rockers with layers of keys, the sound quality is way below the studio standard. However, their inclusion here is really no more than a testament to the bands ability to perform in front of an audience.
"Where Dreams Lie" was recorded in 1996 and 1997 and is only now being released, thanks to the efforts of Luna Negra. I recommend the CD to all those who prefer the classic prog rock of the 70s, rather the technical speed of this decade. In many ways, the music found here has a "garage" like immediacy, one that signifies improvisation and atmosphere over virtuosity and complexity.