Martigan is a German band, and is founded by Oliver Strahl. This “Man of the moment” is their third full album after releasing “Stolzenbach” (1994), “Ciel Ouvert” (1996) and a maxi-CD entitled “Simplicius” (1997). I have never heard those albums. But like me, you will be surprised in a positive way if you put this CD in your player the first time. Why haven’t I heard of this band before? Also I came to the conclusion that Germany strikes again in the field of Symphonic-Neo prog. You can put Martigan next to bands like Sylvan, RPWL and Everon.
Kai Marckwordt – Lead vocals, some guitar solo’s, Rickenbacker, Flute & Sax; Oliver Strahl – Keyboards and backing vocals; Alex Bisch – Drums and backing vocals; Björn Bisch – Guitars; Peter Kindler – Bass
Axel Schütze – Bass; Mirko Bäumer – Lead vocals and backing vocals.
The album opens with the long track “The pride” (10:00). After the first fat synth sounds the band starts in a bombastic way with a melodic guitar solo and symphonic keyboards. The sound of the album is crystal clear and the band show they have power. As Kai Marckwordt begins to sing in almost accent less English and the song seems to have great vocal refrains and a steady rhythm section with a drummer Alex Bisch who plays in an intelligent way. Well to be honest the band got me by the throat immediately with this fantastic opener with delicious guitar and keyboard solos. The next track is one of the two more rockier and mainstream rock songs with catchy vocal refrains. It is called “Out of sight” (5:48) and could be a prog-single. And it is amazing that in the person of Mirko Bäumer they have two fantastic vocalists on this album. A lot of bands only can dream of this luxury! After all the power of the first two tracks the band slows down a little bit with the intro of “Closer contact” (8:39). The melodic dual vocals of both singers are amazing. The melodies are great and you just want to sing (scream) along with them. The music is very melodic with basic layers of symphonic keyboards and melodic and soaring guitar solos on top of it. The fourth track is called “7th Floor” (8:36) and opens surprisingly with the sax of Kai. The sax fits nicely into Martigan’s music because it is also played in a melodic way. The way Mel Collins did it with the “Rain dances” album of Camel. The music gets a jazzy touch. Great track with beautiful melodies and again a nice guitar solo in the end. People, who read my reviews, know my preference about melodic sympho and have the same taste can just stop now reading and buy the record. But for the people who are not sure at this moment, I will continue and hope not to repeat myself. The next track is called “Scapegoat & scarecrow” (4:54) and is based on a melody played on piano. Sometimes the music swells to a climax with symphonic keyboard work of Oliver Strahl. Kai Marckwordt sings this beautiful melody with a lot of passion.
The next two tracks are linked to each other. In “Feast intro” (2:24) Oliver builds up the atmosphere with his creepy synth sounds but is interrupted by a melodic guitar solo. “The feast” (6:16) combines some more complex rhythms but in overall they keep it melodic. “Images & tales” (9:15) starts with delicate synths and keyboard strings only accompanied by bass. The rhythm guitar and the rest of the band join and the next melodic guitar solo is played. The tension is slowly building up. The band reminds me in this track of Saga (Martigan was already support act of Saga). The guitar solo is just delicious, I will say no more. I keep repeating myself. “Permission” (5:20) is the second track with a more mainstream rock feeling. The catchy vocals can bring them their second single in Foreigner or Saga style.
The last track is the longest of the album. “The mask & The raven II” (14:24) starts with some melodic guitar work. As you can imagine this is the track with the most variation. All the highlights of the previous tracks are included in this long one. Of course the band includes a soaring guitar solo. The ending of the track sounds mysterious because of the keyboard sounds of Oliver Strahl.
Best tracks are in my opinion the amazing opener “The pride” (10:00), the track with the sax “7th floor” (8:36) and “Images & Tales” (9:15). This little gem from Germany surprised me in a positive way. If you like melodic sympho or Neo-prog you will be happy with this CD. Fans of Sylvan and RPWL I would also like to invite to listen to this band. There is great keyboard work on this album. And Oliver Strahl plays not in a freaky way but always for the composition with now and then a solo. There are delicious melodic guitar solo’s of Björn Bisch and the most unusual thing; two great singers, Kai Marckwordt & Mirko Bäumer. Gentlemen of Martigan, it was a pleasure to review your album. I am curious how this band will develop.