Friday, January 23, 2015

Subterranean Masquerade - The Great Bazaar (2015)

Relive the Feeling, Welcome to This Reanimated Masquerade:

During my progressive rock/metal phase back in 2006-07 I came across Subterranean Masquerade's debut full-length Suspended Animation Dreams and
as soon as I gave it a spin I knew it was definitely not your run-of-the-mill prog-metal album because this thing doesn't let technical gibberish take hold of the songwriting. Yes, that's the key aspect of Subterranean Masquerade and that's why I love them to this day when my taste hardly runs parallel with contemporary prog-metal, well, at least what's in the bigger picture anyway.

For those who aren't acquainted with the background of this supergroup, it's the brainchild of Israel-based multi-instrumentalist Tomer Pink and Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom) is also a principal member as he's been lending his voice since the inception of their first recording Temporary Psychotic State. Although Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation) has taken over most of the clean vocal duties this time around Paul is still available to provide his adept death-growls and also some clean parts during the harmonized sections.

The middle-eastern salvo of the opener "Early Morning Mantra" is just a glimpse of what's ahead in this sublime excursion to The Great Bazaar. By the time you reach the jazzy climax of the track after a palette of tastefully incorporated styles you'll realize that it's every bit of worth the ten years wait. Next in line, "Reliving the Feeling" drips with catchy tempos and invigorating grooves which leads to the wah-laden bridge and peaks with an orgasmic outro. The bittersweet melancholy of "Blanket of Longing" sharply contrasts with the overall uplifting vibe of the first-half. The oriental panache and the heavier metallic edge returns with the penultimate track "Specter". The grand closure "Father
and Son" (featuring guest vocals from Orphaned Land frontman Kobi Farhi)  reinstates the fact that Sub-Masq is back with a major statement.

The Great Bazaar is driven by free-flowing hooks and cohesive songwriting yet minutely complex enough for prog-rock/metal fans. From Rush, Genesis to King's X, Anathema and even Mastodon, each and every fan of the aforementioned acts will be highly satisfied with this record. And for me it's already a strong contender for album of the year category.

Rating - ★★★★1/2 (95% on Metal-Archives)

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