What in the name of fuck are Worship Metal doing reviewing Kansas? They’re hardly metal. They’re hardly current. However, they are pioneers and their contribution to rock (and in turn, heavy metal) cannot be underestimated. So, when we were offered the chance to check out their first album of new material in 16 years we thought what the hell; “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind” are stone cold classics after all!
Fortunately, our blind faith in these stalwarts has been vindicated. Supremely confident, this modern AOR classic in the making pretty much has everything you’d expect from these ageless legends. The Prelude Implicit is whimsical, experimental, melodic to the extreme and still they find time for some hard-hitting riffs(!); check out the opening to “Rhythm Of The Spirit” if proof is required that Kansas can still riff up a storm in 2016.
At once achingly beautiful, while still finding room to up the heaviness factor at various intervals throughout, it’s Kansas’ ever ingenious use of David Ragsdale’s prowess on the violin that lingers longest in the memory. Adding so much to each and every song, the tracks on The Prelude Implicit remain such a unique proposition primarily due to his input and he is a real string to their bow (so to speak). That’s right, violins! Again, hardly metal but Kansas’ unique juxtaposition of guitar and violin strings increasingly entrances as the album progresses. After all, My Dying Bride must have gotten their influence from somewhere!
Admittedly, this is the first Kansas album without the recognisable pipes of founding member, lead vocalist and keyboardist Steve Walsh – who retired from the band in 2014 – but Ronnie Platt has seamlessly been drafted in, an immaculate voice adding layers to Kansas’ already expansive sound. Long time fans may bemoan the shift in line-up but as outsiders to the world of Kansas, we found no gripe with Platt’s performance and he felt right at home.
Considering we are primarily a metal website, we’d be remiss not to mention the saccharine levels on The Prelude Implicit reach ‘remove-your-own-teeth’ stage at times – particularly on opener “With This Heart” – but there is a satisfying crunch to the guitars when the boys do let fly.
In the end, virtuoso performances and endlessly inventive and varied songwriting has resulted in an immaculate presentation of prog in 2016. Surprised? We sure were! 8/10