"The Sickness And The Theory" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian, Vancouver based progressive rock/metal act Marching Mind. The album was released through Fivebyfive Records in February 2012. Compared to the band´s self-titled debut album, which had a catchy and imidate nature (while still challenging the listener with progressive ideas and structures), "The Sickness And The Theory" is quite the ambitious and challenging size.
...we´re talking a nearly 70 minutes long concept album, with an emphasis on dynamic playing and atmosphere. While the debut album featured a lot of spacy sounding synths to go along with the sci-fi imagery/lyrics, the keyboard weapon of choice on "The Sickness And The Theory" is piano. The piano actually has a very dominant role on the album, which provides the music with a pretty different sound compared to the more guitar driven debut album. It´s probably the consequence of "The Sickness And The Theory" being written more as a group effort, where the debut was mostly written by guitarist Chris Neal and lead vocalist/keyboard player Jeremy Tardif. Especially the latter seems to have been given more room and influence on the sound.
The tracks generally appear more progressive in structure than the case was on the debut and they are also longer. Most tracks on the album are between 7 and 13 minutes long. The short piano intro "Conception" and the epic and melancholic "Borne Upon Tears" (which in some ways reminds me of "I Remember" from "A Social Grace (1990)" by Psychotic Waltz) are the only exceptions. To begin with I wasn´t too impressed by the often structurally complex tracks as I didn´t think they stood out enough and because the melodies didn´t imidiately click with me. "The Sickness And The Theory" is what I´d call a grower though, and it´s certainly an album that both requires and deserves multible spins. At 68:29 minutes it´s maybe sligthly too long for it´s own good, but on the other hand I wouldn´t want to miss out on some of the closing tracks like "Locust Enigma" or the 13 minutes long "Convergence". So while especially the songlines/vocal melodies take a while to get into and remember and the song structures are at times so complex that after a couple of minutes you begin to doubt if it´s the same track still playing, "The Sickness And The Theory" is still a very strong effort by Marching Mind. The fact that the musicianship is excellent and the sound production professional and well sounding aren´t exactly issues either.
I like the fact that even though artists like Rush and Voivod and various early- to mid nineties Seattle rock acts are an audible influence, Marching Mind still have a sound of their own and with "The Sickness And The Theory" they prove that they still develop on that sound. This is a "true" progressive rock/metal act continuously pushing boundaries and exploring new territory. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.