JAUGERNAUT – Contra Mantra

  • 8.5/10
    JAUGERNAUT - Contra Mantra - 8.5/10


Prog Rock Records
Release Date: March 25, 2008

User Review
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Jaugernaut is definitely not a new band. They first saw the light of day in 1978 and released two albums in the early 80s. Now they have reunited, although there’s only one member of the original line-up that is left in the band. The new release is Part 1 of two albums that are dealing with the origin of evil. Main-man Jim Johnston decided to reunite the band again in 1999 and then in 2005 he released a new album independently. Prog Rock Records took him under their wings and re-released the album this year.

From the reunion, and until the release of the album, it took six years. Nine years passed by before it was released by a label. It was an album worth the waiting. Johnston is a multi-talented musician playing almost every instrument on this album, except for the guitar solos.

“Anthem” is the masterpiece that starts this record. Church bells opens up for the atmospheric world you’re being dragged into. It’s a world of weird sounds that dominates the music before the song really starts with the entire band. The beginning is dominated by a 70s Psychedelic-alike keyboard put out through a very happy melody. They present the main theme some time before coming into an acoustic part which sounds like it could have been the soundtrack of a Western movie starring Clint Eastwood. This part seems to go on forever but various guitar solos and vocal harmonies maintain the excitement. However it becomes a little too long despite the great guitar and vocal performances. Coming into the tenth minute some very experimental keyboards enter before the song goes into a shuffle dominated part, which eventually sounds very cool.

The next song really sounds like it’s inspired by the Canadian Progressive Rock band Rush. “The Damage Is Done” is one of the greatest songs from this record and maybe one of the most straight forward songs as well and would work perfectly as a radio-song. This one also starts out very atmospheric; a collection of sounds appearing over reggae beats. It sounds absolutely out of context; therefore it feels good when the band enters with melodies that make some sense. The song features great and exciting melodies combined with a little madness midway in the track. It’s definitely one of the best moments on the record.

Coming into the third song on the record you’re again presented to the reggae beat from the previous song, this time in a more modified version. As the band comes in after the intro you’re again aware of the similarity to Rush. This is also a song that could be a worthy single, just like the previous one. “Better Living Through Anarchy” is full of catchy melodies, catchy riffs and fabulous guitar playing.

The fourth song on the album is a fourteen minute long track. After yet another atmospheric intro we’re presented to the theme that appears in the beginning of the opening song, this time with acoustic guitars. It sounds nice but they drag it out too long, until it becomes absolutely uninteresting. When the band finally enters we’re almost halfway out in the song. It sounds great and at this moment one is aware of the fact that Jim Johnston sounds much like ex-Journey vocalist Steve Perry. As we come further out in the tune… the listener is exposed to some very experimental parts which sounds very exciting.

“Vanity” starts quite funky and maintains its groove before changing the beat at the end of the tune, it becomes something completely different, could actually have been another song. The following song “A Different World” is one of two songs that starts immediately. It’s quite dramatic from the very beginning, changing the happy setting that appeared in the other songs. This one follows in the footsteps of “The Damage Is Done” and “Better Living Through Anarchy”. It does also feature a lot of terrific guitar playing as well.

“All I See Is Gray” ends the album in a worthy way. It drops the long, atmospheric intros that every other song, except “A Different World”, contained. It starts quietly with acoustic guitars playing a moody melody. It makes you relax and drift away through the total seven minutes it lasts. Sure it becomes a little nowhere-going at the end, stamping in the same pattern as before, but it sounds good after all.

This album is absolutely worth a ride in your CD player. Apart from the fact that almost every song could have been cut down a few minutes, because of unnecessarily long parts and intros that seem like they’re there because one should have some strange parts as well, it is a great album. The production is clear, nothing to put a finger on actually, check it out for yourself! Jaugernaut – Contra Mantra should be among your first priorities of buying.

  1. Anthem
  2. The Damage Is Done
  3. Better Living Through Anarchy
  4. The Hard Way
  5. Vanity
  6. A Different World
  7. All I See Is Gray

Jim Johnston – Vocals, Rhythm Guitars, Lead Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Mandolin, Programming
Tyler Johnston – Keyboards, Programming
Jim Brammer – Lead Guitars
Marty Prue – Lead guitar, Acoustic Lead Guitar


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