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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 10 January 2001
Massive Attack have famously evolved their style throughout their career, from the lush soul/hip-hop notes of Blue Lines to the dubbed-out smoked-out lope of Protection (getting further dubbier on the Mad Professor remix album). This time however, they have really turned things about.
I must admit I was a little apprehensive when I'd heard that they'd gone all "rock" but my first listen to the album in its entirety after hearing the chilling tones of the first single "Rising Son" took all of my (mis)preconceptions, chewed them up and spat them a very long way away. The darker, deeper vibes, briefly visited on Protection's Eurochild are prevelant throughout, with 3D and Daddy G working somber menacing tones, presumably exorcising demons of some kind (the majority of the lyrics being typically cryptic).
Horace Andy, always welcome, is on his usual fine form, his spine-tingling falsetto providing a sublime, haunting edge to "Angel" and "Man Next Door", with new girl Sara Jay showing her rather fine vocal skills on the out and out rocker "Dissolved Girl". Grant (Daddy G) makes a more noticeable appearance than previously, his deep, gruff voice suiting the new vibe perfectly, and it is only after a couple of listens that you notice the absence of Tricky (presumably a result of him having gone "a bit wierd"), though this is no bad thing here.
It is the appearance of Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins) that truly wins this album though, particularly on the astonishingly beautiful "Teardrop", a true tear inducing masterpiece (despite the lyrics being more or less incoherent!), with its lush strings and heart-beat imitating drum loops. Fraser continues to astound on "Black Milk" and again on her duet with Del Naja, on the apocalyptic penultimate track "Group 4", which is one to be listened to alone, whilst lying down, in the dark, with your stereo volume as loud as it will go.
The whole album, is must be said is rather an introspective one, to be most appreciated whilst alone, and will not appeal to everyone. Even confirmed Massive Attack fans may find its industrial leanings all a little heavy going, although it is all ultimately strangely uplifting, despite the dark, paranoid undertones throughout. One thing this is not, is a party album, but if you do dare to take it on, you will find yourself very well rewarded.
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on 26 April 2002
Get hold of this album. Wait until about 11 in the evening. Sit in your favourite armchair in a room lit sparsely. A couple of candles, perhaps. Turn up your hi fi so the sound fills the room, but doesn't deafen. Press play. Evaporate.
This album can be seen as a logical progression from Blue Lines and Protection as the textures get more complex and the sounds more original. It's certainly my favourite of the three. With some beautiful vocals on tracks like Teardrop, and some amazing energy on tracks such as as Angel this album offers a spectrum of atmospheres to experience. Some great laid back rapping and beats to make you kneel on the floor and thank god you've got a pulse. The addition of crunching guitar in the backgorund alongside organic synths works brilliantly.
This is music you can have as background whilst doing other things, but that's missing the point. Mezzanine is music to breathe to.
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on 2 January 2003
If ever there was an album to which superlatives apply then this is it. Less soulful and playful then earlier outings this is nonetheless Massive Attack's finest album. From the low throb of opener angel to the last clatter of exchange this is an album to love. Dark, bruising and fractured certainly yet still swelling with a subsumed emotion that is worth a million Will Youngs.
This is an album that can aptly be described as 'difficult' without actually being difficult to listen to. Massive Attack's strange and threatening audio world is so artfully arranged that it never strikes as discordant or awkward. If a first listen beguiles, and I assure you that it will, then repeated attempts will reveal new wonders and finally will render the darkness warm and cozy and the only sane response to life.
Played at a low volume the sounds that ooze from the speakers sit sulkily lurking at the corners of the room, ripe with menace. Played loud the heavy metal thunder of Angel or Dissolved Girl will work its corrosive magic in a way that the nu-metal fraternity can only dream of. The vocalist most associated with this album is Elizabeth Frazer and its easy to see why. The distinctive style of her vocals perfectly offsets the sullen and richly textured sounds in which they are set, like diamonds in black velvet. However personally I find Sarah Jay's only track, Dissolved Girl far more effecting. Her low voice is both sexy and, like Beth Gibbons of Portishead, conveys volumes of stark emotion just veering off desperation. Horace Andy's caramelised voice adds sweetness to every track that he sings on.
Despite the various different styles and plethora of vocalists, five in total, this album still manages more coherence then more straightforwardly structured bands seem capable. There isn't a duff track here and while no two tracks are the same they all share a certain indefinable quality that's unique to Massive Attack.
All in all a massive achievement and if, as seems likely, its their last album then a worthy swansong for one of the finest bands of the nineties. Oh yeah and its quite dark too.
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on 25 December 2013
The vinyl on this is dead quiet, it did have a lot of factory dust from the paper inner sleeves but a quick clean on the VPI fixed that. I'd recommend putting them back in polylined inner sleeves. The jacket is a bit flimsy and should have been higher quality. I have an original and it was a much nicer gatefold.

Mastering-wise, this sounds really close to the original I own but without the pops on my original which grades VG at best. I'm not sure if this is from the CD master or the original tapes. Being a 90s release it might have been all digital from hard drives or DAT so it may not matter anyway. Even if it is analog tape, all the samples that make up most of the music are 16 bit 44.1khz digital anyway. So in short, buy this because you like vinyl and don't expect the sound to be better than the CD, which I think already sounds fantastic.

My biggest complaint is the mailer. I don't know why so many things I order from the UK and Europe have the thinnest cardboard but because of it one of the corners got bent. I've read on forums that this is a common problem with this release. They need to use real LP mailers like the ones made by Bags Unlimited.
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on 21 March 2006
To label this 'another great chillout album' would be to underestimate the depths of this album and the music within. Its not a an album I would label 'chillout' by any stretch of the imagination. More a soundtrack for nightmares then sweet dreams. Its dark, moody, and atmospheric, certainly not music to chill too.
Its one of those rare albums where every track is good and each stands out from the other. Each is telling its own story even when there are no words. It also dismisses any previous bench mark set for what defines trip-hop and crushes it like a bug.
On some tracks your ears a wooed with almost angelic vocals and moved on to more darker, masculine tones, hypnotizing, beautiful and menacing all in one package.
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on 23 March 2004
I had heard of Massive Attack before I bought this album, but had never actually heard their music; and was it worth it? Definitely! The opening track 'Angel' is great and really sets the mood for the rest of the album. Some other favourites of mine include 'Teardrop' which is so relaxing and stunning at the same time; and 'Dissolved Girl' which is also sung by the female singer. I really recommend this album to anybody who likes Royksopp, Moby and other electronic/chill artists. In fact, I think you should desperately consider adding this to your music collection as it simply is beautiful in every single way!
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on 23 June 2001
Thie album really is a bit of a style change for Massive Attack, but I think it has been for the better. Angel, Risingson, Dissolved Girl, Inertia Creeps and Mezzanine are all the more brooding and rock related tracks which are the heaviest ones.
Whereas Man Next Door and Group Four are more of the strangely addictive and odd tracks.
Black Milk, Tear Drop, and both Exchanges are the etherial tracks which become immersful once listening to them and complete the album to make it a fantastic listen. Definitely a change for the MA crew but for all the better whether for difference or permenance.
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on 23 August 2000
This is my most played CD in my collection, its brilliant! From the moment the CD is played and you hear the gradually louder beats of Angel you know its going to be good. Then we move to Teardrop easily the best single Massive Attack have released since Unfinished Sympathy (my all time fave song). Ahh it gets better towards the end though, with the fantastic, couldn't-be-any-better, Group Four. And to end, we have (Exchange) with the (fantastic) singing of Horace Andy. Ohmygod I love this album. Buy it! And hurry up with the next album!
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on 20 February 2005
An excellent album, full of tricky melodys and little beats that make you wonder... Slightly darker album, but this adds to what makes the album excellent. What can i say? Massive Attack, one of the greatest bands of my generation!
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on 4 June 2006
Massive Attack's most famous album has no faults. This is the album that defines the Bristol Trip Hop scene. It's divided into two halves with the first "exchange" being the midpoint (although on vinyl "Dissolved Girl" appears on the first LP). The first part consists of the famous songs and creates an intense atmosphere until "exchange" eases us into the second half. After multiple listens, you realise that the classic songs are actually on the second LP. For me, although "Angel" and "Teardrop" will always be some of my favourite songs, the real highlights are "Black Milk" and "Group Four" which are often overlooked due to the powerful opening. A repeat of "exchange" is necessary at the end to finish the cycle.

This is a must have album for anyone with an interest in electronic music. "Blue Lines" and "Protection" are also legendary, but have floors. This does not. When it comes to Trip Hop, Massive Attack prove here that they are the godfathers.
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