Mark 1 - Criminal Element

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Independent
Catalog Number: KCB001A
Format: CD
Total Time: 35:31:00

Much has or will be made of how Mark 1 sounds like Gabriel-led Genesis. Yes, I, too, made that comment about their first release, Absolute Zero. The thought I had in listening to The Criminal Element is that this is what Genesis would likely sound like now had they continued in a vein similar to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Add in, too, elements of where Collins took the band before they went totally pop (although I did keep thinking of elements of Invisible Touch during the title track, specifically of "The Last Domino"), and with it all given a modern sheen. However, this essentially means, of course, Gabriel at the front, Collins behind the kit, Banks on keys, etc., etc. Lyrically, their concerns are little more down to earth than even on their debut, and more so than Genesis' Lamb. But, let's not take this Genesis comparison too far. Having a vocalist that sounds like Gabriel and tossing in a few keyboard phrases that could be Banks doesn't mean this band is on par with Genesis, just that they sound like them. Which you might take as a clue that I don't think Mark 1 is a good band. Ah, but could that be a red herring?

So, let's set that whole Genesis thing aside and look at the band itself - a trio in the form of Kyle Jones on keyboards and lead vocals; Bobby DiFazio on guitars, bass and voices; and Chris Molinski on drums, percussion and voices. This latter element often seems lost in the mix behind the guitar, keys and vocals. Two tracks standout from the rest, mainly because they are different from the rest: "Captain Labrador's Unceremonious Disengagement" is, well, the only way I can describe it is like something out of vaudeville... (ELP's "Jeremy Bender" comes to mind). You might expect that "I Wanna Go To The F*ckin' Zoo!" would be a track filled with lots of aggro, and vocals delivered with a snarl -- that is punk or rap. But it is instead a jazzy piano led piece, though there is a tasty guitar solo from DiFazio, too. This jazzy element repeats in "The Life..." which is equally dramatic and epic as is the "The Raven." There are some flute-like elements that play against the razor-wire guitars; a little beauty against the ugliness -- hey, isn't that like life?

One element to Mark 1's sound here that I find especially appealing is the piano, played with flourish on the opening, title track, in "The Raven," and again on "...On The Run," which closes the album. The playing isn't perfect, but it still adds a nice element to the music. "Another Commercial Casualty" is an acoustic guitar and voice track with a rather depressing theme, but a moment many of come to at one time or another -- where we're at is not where we want to be. "The Raven" is a moody, dark piece with what might be called a classic prog rock sound -- and in fact, here I'd compare Mark 1 more to Pendragon in music and mood, though that doesn't mean their Genesisisms have been replaced. It is here the band really play with texture, where DiFazio plays a great guitar solo which then shifts into a distorted, harsh thing. In fact, Mark 1 through in numerous elements into this 9-plus minute epic. It is the centerpiece to the album, and perhaps their best track on the album.

The Criminal Element is an album that one has to listen to more than once, as it doesn't reveal itself with only one listen. That is: Dismissing Mark 1 as a Genesis clone would be criminal; as with their debut, Genesis is used merely as outline. But once past that, you begin to hear the little elements that make up the whole. But for the overall feeling that the drums are absent for most of the time, Mark 1 have done a really good job on their sophomore release.

The Criminal Element (9:08) / Another Commercial Casualty (4:25) / Captain Labrador's Unceremonious Disengagement (0:51) / The Raven (9:23) / I Want To Go The F*ckin Zoo! (3:06) / The Life... (5:49) / ...On The Run (3:30)

Kyle Jones - keyboards, vocals
Chris Molinski - drums, percussion
Robert DiFazio - guitars, bass

Absolute Zero (2001)
The Criminal Element (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 17th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 699
Language: english


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