Music For Sharks, the latest Red Sand album (see review), appeared in 2009, so founding member Simon Caron (guitars, keyboards) must have thought that it was about time to record and release new material. And here it is! The new album Behind The Mask was presented earlier this year and once again it's a concept album dealing with a Jewish man from Hitler's era who sees his family disappear right before his eyes. If you want to know more about the story read the interview I had with Simon Caron (see interview).
For this rather serious concept the band harked back to the sound of their first two releases Mirror Of Insanity (2004) and Gentry (2005). If you hear the first seconds of Zero Of War, the opening track of the new album, you won't expect that kind of music. However, after the first seconds the rather aggressive guitar sound turns into a sound with great melodic guitar parts and strong bombastic keyboard passages that rule throughout the album. The more experimental sound from Human Trafficking (2007) and Music For Sharks (2009) can hardly be heard anymore. I guess the band like to perform these bombastic and melancholic parts, so they returned to their original sound.
Red Sand's music is often compared to the music of early Marillion, mostly due to the vocals that sound like Fish. Also the guitar and keyboard sounds can be compared to Marillion, but Red Sand has much more to offer. Listen for instance to the mellower parts on Behind The Mask that move in an opposite direction. A good example is Reflections, the shortest track, on which you can enjoy outstanding playing on the acoustic guitar. The intro of Memory Of Past has been done in the same style. On this piece you can enjoy beautiful playing on the piano and the cello before another mind-blowing guitar solo enters the song. A special mention is in place for the sound effects that run throughout and help the listener to get an impression of the things that happen in the story.
Two of Simon Caron's daughters helped him to realize this album. The 14-year old Pennsylia Caron played the piano and the keyboards. Especially her playing on the piano is breathtaking. However, she's not just an excellent musician, but also a fantastic designer for she designed the beautiful front cover as well. Her one year younger sister Barbara Caron has artistic talents as well. She was responsible for the design on the back of the cover. Finally I have to make a remark about the track list. It shows six titles, but you actually hear seven. By doing so you can listen to the additional instrumental ending of Veil Of Insanity separately. This melancholic piece gives the album a happy ending since everything turns out well in the end.
People who enjoyed the band's first two releases and also fancy the early Marillion albums should check out Behind The Mask. They will probably love it as much as I did. Those who want to know more about this Canadian band should read the interview I had with Simon Caron. He provides more background information of all albums by Red Sand and of course, about this great new album!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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