Ankit Sood

Jul 282022

Known to me as the Co-founder of Orphaned Land, Yossi Sassi is an internationally acclaimed musician having shared the stage with a plethora of artists from across the world, such as Metallica, Steve Vai, Marty Friedman and Steven Wilson to name a few. Having given a TED talk on ‘The power of music to unite people’, he was awarded 4 peace and friendship awards from cities and governments. That’s not all, he invented the unique Bouzouki-Guitar instrument (Electric guitar combined with acoustic Bouzouki) and is known to play 17 different types of guitars and traditional instruments.

While the music has a blend of eastern and Oriental scales eclectically blended with Progressive rock we do hear a lot of experimentation with tones. The band loves to drive inspiration from different cultures in the world, while listing Joe Satriani, David Gilmour, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, and Opeth as some of their influences. To me that’s a wonderful list of progressive influencers and some of my favourites too. “Hear and Dare”, marks as the 5th Studio album released on the 19th of March 2021, with Production by Amir Rozanes, Concept art by Amir Rozanes, Liza Murashkovsky, Album design by Noa Reshef, Engineered and recorded by Liron Schaffer at Black Rock Studios, Santorini, Greece; Additional recordings at Jaffa Sound Arts; Mixed and Mastered by Liron Schaffer & Jonathan Jacobi.

The album starts off with “Brotherhood” which is an absolute ecstatic Instrumental piece, an amalgamation of different instruments, cultures, seasons, stories and eras. The song arrangement showcases immense maturity and creativity, and Yossi is a master blender. “The Mind Spirit” booms in and takes on a progressive stance, with odd time sequences, a blend of multitude of instruments, where East meets West which sounds as if the melodies are duelling out and eventually culminating into something unique and mellifluous. “Hear and Dare” starts off with crunchy guitar riffs layering on marching drums, and as all the elements mix up, we hear Mats Levén adding a unique blend into the mix with his vocal deliveries. The song carries its momentum and ends the way it starts (only a pitch higher).

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Bloodlines – “Hevel” (ep)

 Posted by on July 14, 2022 at 12:43  No Responses »
Jul 142022

From the Gulf Coast of Texas come Bloodlines, a four-piece modern-core outfit taking cues from bands like For Today, Impending Doom and Convictions. The band’s 2019 debut LP Hostile | Minds, marries classic metal core with a distinctly progressive twist, was hailed as a “dark and violent record,”. Bloodlines’ mission statement is as clear as their sound is brutal. They plainly assert that their vision is very simple and that’s to spread the hope and love of Jesus Christ. The band released their EP “Hevel” on the November 12th of 2021 under the Facedown record label.

The band wrote HEVEL to address seasons of life, with the band taking inspiration from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. The band quotes, “Ecclesiastes uses the word ‘meaningless’ a lot, which is translated to ‘hevel’ in Hebrew and has a different interpretation. The word ‘hevel’ in the context of the book means vanishing vapor or smoke. So in essence, Ecclesiastes wasn’t necessarily saying that the work and the seasons we go through in life are meaningless, but rather they are just fleeting, ever-changing. Like vapor, here one minute and gone the next.”

The EP opens up with a hard hitting “Lotus” which pounces off with a plethora of crafty breakdowns as the Vocals juggle between a mix of guttural and clean styles. Be it for the chugging guitars, melodious chorus, or the ambient electronic soundscapes, all gels well with the overall song delivery. Next up with “Devil” heavy ambient soundscapes open the track with an eclectic guitar paving way to a djent filled verse. The bass rumbles as the songs move to its breakdowns paired well with screeching and guttural vocals, at the same time adding bits of melodies through the course of the song. A good use of electronica interrupts at the interlude before the song’s final blow.

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Dispraised – “Moral Rot”

 Posted by on July 10, 2022 at 22:41  No Responses »
Jul 102022

Back in 2017, two friends Donovan de Necker and Tom Mong began talks of creating Dispraised. Both agreed to make something very different and special for Christian punk rock fans to enjoy. Enter a true punk rock sound and style created by the two that in and of itself offers a critique against the mundane that passes for “punk rock” and has become only little more than milquetoast elementary school ear fodder. Dispraised took on Justin Ram (of the Grave Robber, The Jericho Harlot fame) as their drummer who held the same convictions and critical ideals that the band had clearly aired. Justin began to record live drums for Dispraised’s first full-length album, “Moral Rot.” which was released on January 28, 2022.

The band quotes, “When one dispraises something it means they disapprove and offer criticism or complete disapproval. Sounds negative, right? Well, if you are on the wrong end of that criticism, it sure is! Yet, if you are upholding an absolute moral standard as laid out in as an authoritative truth text, then the world’s ever moving, constantly changing subjective moral relativism is primed on the chopping block for some seriously cutting critiques.” “Moral Rot is a project that captures and channels the cutting snark, criticism and outright attitude of some of the most renowned punk rock bands in music history. Dispraised holds nothing back and channels the aggressive anti-PC stance of such legendary punk/hardcore legends as Fear, Black Flag and the Bad Brains. The difference is Dispraised’s lyrics come from a faith filled Christian stance and are firmly rooted in scripture.”

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All Things Fallen – “Shadow Way”

 Posted by on May 30, 2022 at 22:17  No Responses »
May 302022

All Things Fallen, formed in the year 2017 by Markus Sigfridsson (of the Darkwater, Harmony and Lance King fame), have recorded their 2nd Studio album “Shadow Way ” which is due to be released on the 3rd June under the Blackoak Record label. It’s mixed and mastered by Dennis Koehne and will be distributed by Beyond the Storm Productions worldwide. The band onboarded Raphael Dafras (of the Edu Falschi and Almah fame) on bass with guest appearance by Maria Grigoryeva on Violin and Ulrik Arturén on Backing vocals.

The band states that, “Old fans of melodic atmospheric metal will enjoy this album, which is melancholic, melodic and has a darker vibe than the first album. It flirts with the 70 ́s Rainbow style but with a modern production. The lyrics of All Things Fallen often deals with contemporary events and issues in our world, but often from a metaphoric stance. A perfect album for fans of atmospheric and progressive metal and bands like Evergrey, Soen, Pain of Salvation and Darkwater.”

While this was my first time listening to ATF, I went ahead with an acquiescent mindset. The album opens up with “The Sentinel” which blares on with a chunky guitar riff with a hint of flutes lingering in the backdrop. The vocals remain clean throughout the breadth of the song, and have subdued seconds embedded well within the mix. The song builds on ambient elements as it progresses and changes course midway which brings about an enigmatic arrangement of the song. With “Rebirth” the band takes an aggressive stance at the onset, carries forth with hymn-like lyrics paired with flaring guitar riffs and a catchy chorus which parallels an eclectic guitar solo. The crunchy guitar riffs drive the song and set the stage for everyone else to follow. One of the longest and craziest guitar riffing that follows is a true hallmark of the progressive genre, that one is sure to remember. What an amazing feat!

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Flames of Fire – Self-Titled

 Posted by on February 21, 2022 at 23:51  No Responses »
Feb 212022

When Christian Liljegren (of the Narnia fame) first met with Mats-Åke Andersson back in 1987, a camaraderie was built over mutual admiration of musical influences and bands such as Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Europe, Madison and Rainbow. The two friends decided to stay in touch and collaborated on various projects spread across years, Mats-Åke helped composed intro which Narnia used for its first tour, while promoting their debut album Awakening. Both had tremendous ideas which they discussed every time an opportunity presented which finally took fruition with “Flames of Fire” taking shape and form in the spring of 2021.

The duo started looking out to find the remaining members for the band, and were able to secure Per Schelander (from House of Shakira, Astrakhan, ex. Royal Hunt, and Pain of Salvation) on bass; Stephen Carlson on guitars; and Jani Stefanovic (from Solution .45, The Waymaker, ex. Divinefire) who filled in various shoes that of guitarist, drummer, keyboards and strings. With the core team in place, the band chose Sound Pollution for distribution, CJ Grimmark for mastering the album. The album is set to release on the March 18th 2022 under the Melodic Passion Records label.

As I skimmed through the album, I got a flashback from the 80’s, bringing in fond memories of listening to the old Iron maiden records I had as a teenager. The album opens up with an ambient intro on “New Dawn” with a captivating guitar riff and a cinematic soundscape. Next up in “Gloria” the band brings in an aggressive stance having powerful lyrics paired with guitar riffs (with added seconds) and a throbbing bass line which leads to an eclectic guitar solo that’s part mirrored on the bass. Just as we are about to reach to the end, the vocals shift scales, a true singing prowess. Incredible!

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