[Review] M-Opus – At The Mercy Of Manann​á​n

Three years after their previous album “Origins” released in 2020, The Irish progsters M-Opus are back. The new concept album entitled “At The Mercy Of Manannán” was released on April 03, 2023 and contains 8 tracks ranging from 2 to over 9 minutes in length. of note, virtuoso guitarist PJ O’Connell has been added to the lineup. The opener “Setting Off” is a short 2-minute track that gently immerses us in the musical atmosphere of the record. With “Riverflow,” the band immediately highlights its Progressive style by bringing us back to the early 1970s. Precious guitar arpeggios, a load-bearing bass line and drumming enhanced by tempo changes allow the keyboards to come to the fore. The organ interweaves with the guitar melodies with refined solo inserts, while the instrumental parts alternate with the singing, which is very warm and incisive. An energetic and technical track, intense and with pleasant Symphonic openings. “Whirlpool” opens with atmospheric coneffects and a killer bassline with hypnotic traits that along with solid and elaborate drumming create a technical and intricate rhythm section. The guitar and keyboards weave in virtuoso melodies and solos, developing it track with continuous tempo changes and solo inserts that enhance the technicality of all the musicians involved. After a long time the drumming finally offers solo cues in a studio track, as was the custom on 1970s records. A concentrate of technique and energy, where all instruments have their proper space, free to experiment. Atmospheric sounds and a dreamy guitar arpeggio open “To The Other Side,” the longest track on the record, exceeding 9 minutes. The vocals are warm and expressive, passionately interpreting the lyrics. The track evolves with a pleasant alternation of vocal and instrumental parts, between Symphonic openings and a granitic Prog sound with keyboards in evidence. In a continuous evolution of the central theme of the track the band takes us through these 9 minutes of pure Progressive Rock concluding in a musical crescendo. Heavy features and quality Prog blend in “Na Bruídaí,” a solid and engaging track. The vocals are dynamic and very expressive, and the rhythm section creates tempo changes that allow the track to evolve with technical and elaborate passages. In the middle part the rhythm section accelerates and the keyboards create complex but very engaging melodies and virtuosity. The sound is complex but engages the listener and accompanies him in the exploration of prog sounds with ujn retro imprinting revisited with a personal and modern touch. Acoustic guitar and percussion characterize “Valley Of Elah.” A background of orchestrations on keyboards and melodic vocals create together with the soft rhythm section a delicate and dreamy atmosphere. A more delicate track, with a more linear structure and sounds closer to Classic Rock, then in the finale increase the intensity and conclude in a musical crescendo. “Scaling Novas” is a track that opens with a ballad-style sound and a choral vocal. In the middle with a change are interwoven passages of Progressive with the organ starring in virtuoso solo inserts and the drumming accelerates with double pedal. It ends with a somber finale of orhcestyrations that ties into the intro of the final track “Carnivale.” After an introductory part the band develops a solid Prog theme while maintaining the somber traits in the atmospheres. The guitar and keyboard twists are elaborate and technical, as is the rhythm section, both in drumming and in the deep bass lines that flesh out the sound. An instrumental finale that continues in the enhancement of the band’s technique, cxwith all the musicians involved, leaving us wanting to hear more of this work. This band confirms and improves what was good heard on the previous two records. The atmospheres of the early 70s of the purest Progressive Rock are offered in this work with a modern and personal touch. Symphonic passages, elaborate structures and virtuoso instrumentals to which are added dynamic and incisive vocal walls are the main ingredients of their sound. An intense listen from beginning to end, a masterpiece of modern Progressive and one of the best record releases of 2023.

Tracklist

01. Setting Off (02:02)
02. Riverflow (06:45)
03.Whirlpool (03:14)
04. To The Other Side (09:03)
05. Na Bruídaí (07:55)
06. Valley Of Elah (04:07)
07. Scaling Novas (03:08)
08. Carnivale (05:14)

Lineup

Jonathan Casey / Vocals, Keyboards, Bass
Mark Grist / Drums
PJ O’Connell / Guitar
James Dunne / Bass
Colin Sullivan / Guitar

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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