Man On Fire - Habitat

Year of Release: 2005
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

Two years ago, in 2003, I was pleasantly surprised by the album The Undefined Design by Man On Fire. This was a very solid neo-prog album, with a very modern sound. Now this formation surprises us with their third album, this time a strong concept story: Habitat.

According to a dictionary, habitat means: "natural living area of an organisme or a community." The album tells the tale of the lives of a group of people, with different backgrounds, living together in one block. Ten of the twelve tracks deal with these inhabitants: the corporate CEO ("Mr. Lie"), the single mom ("Majestic"), the addict ("Beast Inside"), the gang member ("Street Game"), the artist ("What The Canvas Hides"), the dirty cop ("Might Is Right"), the washed-up actor ("Curtain Call"), the pimp and the runaway ("Shelter"), the prodigal ("Love Never Lost") and the priest ("Broken"). The lyrics deal with the struggle each of them have to get through life. However, the tale is told from the perspective of "the block," which in this story is set as a person.

Musically Habitat sounds more balanced than its predecessor and for an important part this will be because there is just one drummer present: Rob Sindon. This until now unknown drummer lays a great foundation for the songs and knows how to use his talent to turn the mechanical drum sound, which was present on The Undefined Design, to a more natural drum sound.

Just as on The Undefined Design, I truly enjoy the voice of Jeff Hodges. He absolutely does not sound like anyone else and his voice is just perfect for the lyrics by Steve Caroll! The latter is an official member of the band, although he is no active musician. Caroll pens down all the lyrics and this time he has really outdone himself, with captivating lyrics that really convey the feelings the different characters have in their life.

Once again present is the magical violin by David Ragsdale, that simply gives the music a magical dimension. Another prominent guest on the album is none other than Adrian Belew, mainly known of King Crimson. He handles the lead guitar parts on a large part of the album and adds another dimension to the album that can't do anything else but get better.

The silent member of Man on Fire should, however, not be forgotten: Eric Sands. His frettless bass play blends perfectly with Sindon's drums and gives the songs this warm sound, which in turn is nice contrast with the samples and loops by Hodges that are responsible for the modern sound of the music.

The great thing I enjoy is the fact the musicians sound so tight and have created an album with several dimensions, together forming an impressive unity. Although Habitat is a concept, the songs stand on their own while following the theme of the album. I am not going to discuss each individual song. Listen to the album yourself and make your own judgement. I can only say Habitat is a highlight for me in 2005. It is a strong neo-prog album that is packed with good compositions, well-thought out lyrics, a theme that is carried out well, all poured into a modern sounding musical jacket that you can enjoy to the fullest. Add to this a solid production and great artwork and you have a fantastic product in your hands, or better yet, in your CD player :).

The Block / Mr. Lie / Majestic / Beast Inside / Street Game / What The Canvas Hides / Might Is Right / Curtain Call / Shelter / Love Never Lost / Broken / Habitat

Jeff Hodges - vocals, keyboards, loops/samples
Eric Sands - fretted bass, fretless bass, 7-string guitars
Rob Sindon - drums, percussion
Steve Carroll - lyrics, imagery


Adrian Belew - lead and rhythm guitars, effects
David Ragsdale - violin

Man On Fire (1998)
The Undefined Design (2003)
Habitat (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 31st 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1410
Language: english


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