Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Release Date: January 13, 2015
A decade after the release of the debut full-length album Suspended Animation Dreams, the Symphonic Psychedelic Progressive Metal covey Subterranean Masquerade have unveiled the newest addition to their repertoire – the much-anticipated sophomore record The Great Bazaar, via Tomer Pink‘s new label Taklit Music. Furthermore, having existed as a succession of projects, so to speak, for nearly two decades since the ensemble’s inception in 1997, Subterranean Masquerade, have for the first time encapsulated the mystic beauty that is born when a versatile selection of astounding individuals become one as a band to create a singular expression; each engraving his own distinctive mark that constitutes the whole.
However, The Great Bazaar is a nonpareil record not merely because of the sensational names involved or the intricate progressive nature the album portrays: it is such because of the eclectic blend of elements from far ends of the musical spectrum it has so seamlessly and harmoniously interwoven together. While retaining the unequivocal signature of Metal, this record has encompassed genres and styles stretching from Old School Psychedelic rock and Space Rock to Contemporary Progressive Metal, Death Metal, Doom Metal and Symphonic Metal to Jazz, Classical, Melodic Folk and World Music and transcended notions of separation and liberated Metal from having to be restrained and shackled to a certain sound, a certain color, a certain flavor.
From the first note of “Early Morning Mantra”, the opening tune of the album, the listeners are teleported to a carnival of rich and unique sounds, allowing them to embrace the unmistakable flavor of Subterranean Masquerade. The song which starts with a lush Eastern melody, enriched with exotic traditional Eastern instruments soon seductively progresses to birth an alluringly colorful sequence of diverse passages, each exploring an array of sounds and musical elements. Whilst complementing the melody, the clean vocals of the new lead vocalist, Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation, meld immaculately with the deep menacing growls of Paul Kuhr of Novembers Doom, and the tune’s buoyant epilogue fills the listeners with spirit and vigor and opens the doorway for them to receive the celestial beauty of the second tune of the record “Reliving the Feeling”.
This anthem which unifies sounds of elation with a feel of haunting dysphoria is enchantingly addictive and is adorned with Shai Yallin’s (Solstice Coil) exquisite elaborate piano soundscapes. Moreover, the superlative drumming of Matan Shmuely (Orphaned Land) elevates the tune to another astral plane. While the vocal melody of Nordhus paints “Reliving the Feeling” spellbindingly memorable, the dark explosive growls of Kuhr add a sinister, malign edge to the song. Also, the fashion in which the growls intermingle with the musical arrangements and instrumentation reveal seldom explored realms to the listeners.
The next song in line, “Tour Diary”, is one that is distinctive as it vocally emphasizes on Nordhus. While it is a refreshing contrast to the preceding tunes on the album, it is also an elegant display of the manner in which Nordhus, as the new lead vocalist, impeccably augments the natural sound of Subterranean Masquerade. It begins with an intriguing drum passage, and with no warning erupts into a splendid metallic orchestral masterpiece before fading to pave the way for the vocals, which then coquet gracefully with the rich melody of the song. In addition, the guitar work of Tomer Pink in the melodic arrangements and the solo pours volumes of color to the piece.
“Nigen”, the sole instrumental on the record; which takes the listeners on a surreal voyage and indulges them with exuberant musical arrangements and instrumentation, is rendered astonishing by the eloquent dialogue between the traditional metal instruments and various anomalous Eastern instruments. “Blanket of Longing” which begins with a lucid acoustic guitar passage soon spirals to an orchestral sound and unfolds the enraptured, serene beauty of melancholia contained within the tune. The sweet flirtation between the instruments, the alluring chorus, the accretion of the solo, the manner in which the song rises to a crescendo with double-bass and guttural growling, all elevate the anthem to sonic perfection.
Carved with ravishing Eastern musical accents arrangements and instrumentation and enlivened with the exceptional strings work of Tomer Pink and Or Shalev, “Specter” embodies a heavy ominous yet majestic metallic sound. The tranquil Floydian mid-song instrumental passage heightens the myriad colors radiant in the tune and expands to an electrifying guitar serenade. It is made whole with a postlude masterfully incised with an impassioned Arabic vocalize.
“Father and Son”, the concluding and the lengthiest tune of the record, which features Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land unveils itself to the listener with a tender heartrending sound and feel, and blossoms to be one that is infernally dark and heavy. While the section in which Kuhr‘s deep, doomy commanding growls paint upon the canvas of ethereal music and Golan Farhi’s sublime bass solo render the tune a rare shade of beauty: the vivacious twists of sound and feel present throughout the song navigate the melody towards unseen horizons kindling the unsuspecting minds of the listeners. “Father and Son”, after a phenomenal ascension, brings to an end the magnificent journey through The Great Bazaar.
To conclude, this album is a therapeutic invigorating departure; a perfect hideaway from the afflictions of everyday life and the chaos of the world. So put on a pair of headphones, or turn up the volume of your speakers–escape the mundane world, open up your mind and journey through The Great Bazaar enjoying the carnival of sounds feels and colors. The Great Bazaar is a window to the future of Metal, of Music, and if one is an enthusiast of Metal, a lover and an explorer of Music, this album is a must listen. Buy it here.