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19-11-2017 09:44
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Articles Home » 2005 Articles » Jaugernaut A.D - 2005 Contra Mantra
Jaugernaut A.D - 2005 Contra Mantra

ARTIST: Jaugernaut
ALBUM: Contra Mantra
LABEL: Progrock Records
YEAR: 2005


LINEUP: Jim Johnston - vocals, guitars, keyboards, programming * Jim Brammer - lead electric guitar * Marty Prue - lead acoustic guitar

TRACK LISTING: 01 Anthem * 02 The Damage Is Done * 03 Better Living Thru Anarchy * 04 The Hard Way * 05 Vanity * 06 A Different World * 07 All I See Is Gray * 08 Doing It The Hard Way (Bonus)


Pomp fans will regale in the history of this Seattle based outfit. Buoyed by interest in their past works over recent years, which also saw GLORY-DAZE undertake an interview with the band back in July 2003, Jaugernaut have continued their run into the 21st Century, with a new album 'Contra-Mantra'. Well actually, Jaugernaut have scaled back their membership to one original member, who carries the name onward, and that is all round musical guy Jim Johnston. My guess is that this album is a private recording project by Johnston, but still going under the old band name handle. I'm not altogether convinced that this was a good idea as the music is lacking in something, perhaps some of those cohesive band moments in a studio that were a byproduct of the 70's and 80's recording environment. Sometimes the private home studio is not the best breeding ground for ideas and inspiration.

The Songs
There are three big 'opus' tracks on the album, all three well over the 10 minute mark. The opener 'Anthem' starts out with a wierd montage of bells which sounds like it is being bashed by a very annoyed infant. Then the keys and rest of the music kicks in. What is going in with the drums? It sounds utterly appalling! When the song moves into its progressive phase without drums things improve markedly. 'The Hard Way' is a 10 minute Genesis like excursion into 70's prog. Some nice passages in here admittedly. The other 'opus' is the bonus closer 'Doing It The Hard Way'. At 14 minutes it's a torturous listen, full of sound effects, snippets and jumbled pieces. Hardly cohesive. Of the rest, things are much better. Shorter snappy pieces of prog/rock which are far more digestible, and more in keeping with material that listeners can relate to. 'The Damage Is Done' relieves the pressure somewhat, good vocals, a nice song structure and a heap of melody. Similarly, 'Better Living Thru Anarchy' is very listenable, the mood of the song has a sixties like edge, and the vocal harmonies are very nice! 'Vanity' is a stripped back affair, earthy and organic, while 'A Different World' is an aggressive piece with an overload of lead guitar, unlike the mellow acoustic nature of 'All I See Is Gray', which is melancholy and poignant.

In Summary
Suffice to say this album sounds very uneven. I don't know what was happening to the drums in the mix on that first track, perhaps it is my copy, but it isn't the best I've ever heard. Thankfully, there are a good moments to be heard on the shorter 4 minute tracks. The longer ones are quite hard to take in at first listen. For those who like their prog in a similar setting to Cannata for instance, then you might take an interest in this lot. After scaring me at the start, the album improves as it goes on. Phew!

Related Articles
Jaugernaut - 1980 Jaugernaut
Jaugernaut - 1983 Take Em There
Jaugernaut - 2003 Interview with Jim Johnston
Jaugernaut - 2005 Contra Mantra

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