Band: Jaugernaut (A.D.)

CD Title: “Contra-Mantra”

Band Website:

Label: ProgRock Records


Release Date: 2008


For those of you keeping track, this is actually the third release from the band Jaugernaut, but the first two were on vinyl back in the early eighties. It’s a long story but this West Coast band was just starting to get noticed when they broke up. It wasn’t until the late nineties that original member Jim Johnston recognized there was still interest in the band and decided to get things going again. Updating the band’s musical style to fit the new millennium he released Contra-Mantra in 2005 which is just now getting widespread release through ProgRock Records. Johnson (vocals, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards) enlisted the support of Tyler Johnson (keyboards, programming), Jim Brammer (lead guitar) and Marty Prue (lead guitar) to bring his music to fruition. What we have on Contra-Mantra is the first of a two-part concept about the origins of evil.


Contra-Mantra features seven tracks running a total of about 55-minutes that musically is in the classic pomp-rock style with much that will appeal to fans of not only that genre, but classic hard-edged progressive rock as well. Most of the songs are on the longish side and each goes through some rather interesting twists and turns. Take for example the opening track “Anthem” (12:33) which starts with some haunting atmospherics and fairground organ, before going up-tempo scratching for a few seconds, only to launch into classic crescendo laden AOR rock. At 3:18 into the song it changes yet again into a slow haunting acoustic guitar section with keyboard atmospherics where the vocals come into play. At the 10-minute mark the track shifts into high-gear and goes up-tempo to close out the composition. Many of the tracks are linked with some interesting loops and electronic programming providing some nice transitions. A few of the tracks like “The Damage is Done” (4:59) sound like they’re lifted right out of the eighties only sonically updated to deliver a better punch. The musicianship on Contra-Mantra is top-notch and the tunes are brimming with wonderful hard-edged melodies and anthemic harmonies but this is by no means a prog-metal styled release, there is far too much musical variety for that to be the case. In fact the music is much like a collage with many of the tracks being made up of small musical sections that form a beginning or an end section, so that one seven-minute track actually sounds like two or three shorter tracks, but distinctly different if you know what I mean. Given that this is a concept CD you’d expect there to be recurring themes and in fact there are a few. Take for example the acoustic refrain in “The Hard Way” (14:51) of the opening tracks main theme.


If you enjoy the music of the bands such as Styx, Journey, Magnum, Angel and others in that style Jaugernaut will certainly be welcome in your CD collection. I have to say I was surprisingly pleased at the sounds I heard and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Contra-Mantra to fans of prog that is influenced by the eighties arena pomp rock style. This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen with tremendous musical variety; I look forward to hearing more from Jaugernaut in the future.