Man On Fire - The Undefined Design

Year of Release: 2003
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number:
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:11:00

Every time I receive an album by a band, I am amazed by the talent that is around, and each album seems to strengthen the saying that an identifying mark of progressive rock is that most band members are (at least) multi-instrumentalists. When I did my homework for the second Man On Fire album, I found that principal members Jeff Hodges (vocals, keyboards) and Eric Sands (guitars, fretless and fretted bass) have more tricks up their sleeve! Hodges is also a producer, recording engineer, mixer and composer and has worked in many genres. Sands is also working as a session musician and has done a lot for TV, as well as openings for Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, Starship, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Stuck Mojo, Gary Wright and Mother's Finest. In 1998 their work in Man on Fire was released in the form of a self-titled debut album.

The Undefined Design is a modern sounding album with good compositions. No epic songs, but more intricate songs, with many nuances in the melody and composition. When listening, I found a few influences of other bands in the songs. Like in the opening song "Awake," [in] the first part, "A Prayer In The Moonlight," the style of which reminded me of John Wetton. And in several other songs I noticed a bit of a Rush influence, sometimes even in the vocals. Note this does not mean they have copied, but the style has the same feeling. Although there are some great guitar riffs, some even a bit heavy on the album, it stays well inside the borders of progressive rock and away from metal.

If you listen close to the songs, you will notice how well they are composed and how good Jeff Hodges and Eric Sands are! Especially the guitar sound is really good with a lot of subtle play, sometimes up front and a bit more heavy and here and there a modest solo. But also the keyboards sound fresh and at times nice and spacey, just how I like them. A special role is for David Ragsdale (Smashing Pumpkins, Kansas, John Wetton) who guests with his violin on three tracks and really adds flavour to the songs. The drums have not convinced me, on the other hand. No fewer than three drummers play on the various songs, but on some tracks I have the feeling it is a drum computer playing. Bass guitar is at times funky, but always there to support the songs.

After having listened to The Undefined Desire for over a dozen times, I wonder why I have not heard of them before. This is an excellent album which will please your ears for a long time! Between the first and second album was a period of 5 years. Let's hope number three will not take that long! Man on Fire are an outstanding band that can not only compose strong songs but also a clear production. Based on this album, I think it would be nice to check out the other material Hodges and Sands have produced in their careers because The Undefined Design is definitely worth your while and your CD player. Visit their sites: and

Similar Bands: Enchant, Rush

[This review originally appeared at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Awake (i) Prayer In The Moonlight (5:21) / (ii) Bitter Tears Burning (3:40) / (iii) Ascension (2:10) / Seven Thunders Wide (4:07) / Where Is The Light? (4:57) / Entertaining Angels (3:41) / Great Divide (5:07) / Insides Of The Circle (4:36) / Clouds In The Sun (5:19) / Wasted Time (5:52) / Two Views (4:25) / Just Out Of Reach (5:56)

Jeff Hodges - vocals, keyboards, samples, loops
Eric Sands - fretless and fretted bass, guitars
Steve Carroll - lyrics, esoterics

Special Guests:

David Ragsdale - violin (5, 9, 12)
David Smith - drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 7)
Jimmy Mouton - drums (5, 6, 8, 9, 12)
Adam Stoker - drums (10)
Trish Howell - backing vocals (2)

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

Genre: Modern Prog

Origin US

Added: October 1st 2003
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 790
Language: english


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