The Great Bazaar
Length: 39 minutes
Middle Eastern infused Folk Metal meets 70s Psychedelic Prog meets Melodic Death in this global “Bazaar”.
SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE’s Guitarist Tomer Pink offered me a chance to review their 2015 full-length ‘The Great Bazaar’. My first impression was rather indifferent, the complexity and diversity kept me at bay. But, I figured let’s give it another chance. Damn. Glad I did. For those willing to dive into the richly layered tapestry there’s a treasure trove of melody and musical aura within.
Drawing inspiration from such eclectic acts as ORPHANED LAND, JETHRO TULL, and PINK FLOYD. It’s a bit jarring hearing Death Metal one minute, then mellow 70s era Prog, and then Middle Eastern Folk. But it mostly works out of sheer will and mad skills. An international six member consisting of Vocalist Kjetil Nordhus (GREEN CARNATION), Drummer Matan Shmuely (ORPHANED LAND), Bassist Golan Farhi, Keyboardist Shai Yallin, and Guitarists Tomer Pink and Or Shalev.
This is really not a Metal album. Other than an occasional Death growl and some heavy riffage most of ‘The Great Bazaar’ hearkens back to the calm seas of 70s Rock. Building a vibe, a sonic atmosphere up out of 7 tracks. Think ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ not ‘Ensiferum’.
An orient folk melody invites us in on “Early Morning Mantra” before giving way to a quirky avant garde Prog. Lots of layering with use of both clean and growled vocals and highly intricate rhythm shifts. There’s even a flute solo. Too much?
“Reliving the Feeling” stays immersed in 70s Prog. Upbeat tempo with Orient instrumentation and a throwback mid-song psychedelic interlude. Pomp and circumstance that makes it hard to embrace.
Thankfully, “Tour Diary” strips it back. Putting the haunting Pop-ish melody front and center. Evolving into a mellow FATES WARNING by song’s end.
The eclecticism continues with a Jazz-y saxophone on instrumental “Nigen”. We are sucked in by the infectious melodies, enhanced by piano and a full court press JETHRO TULL-esque outro.
“Blanket of Longing” is pure 90s Alternative, reminiscent of THE CONNELLS. Another well-done example of how just a little complexity can enhance, not distract. Simple, pure, resplendent.
Then we get clobbered with ORPHANED LAND intensity on “Specter”. Early middle eastern Metal gives way to Prog experimentation. Flavored with world instrumentation and exotic vocals. Nordhus gives us some nicely diverse vocals.
The best is left to the last. The PINK FLOYD-esque “Father and Son” guests ORPHANED LAND vocalist Kobi Farhi. Nine(!) minutes spent on a sonic sea brimming with both serene beauty and tumultuous bass-heavy rage. And what’s with that kick-ass break? Great stuff.
This is music to absorb as you let your mind wander and flow. Unhinged from more traditional song structures this collection works as a kaleidoscope of divergent, yet interconnected tunes swirling around your subconscious and into your soul.
“Welcome to the carnival of the dysfunctional and the disturbed”
SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE’s ‘The Great Bazaar’ snuck up on me. A crazy mix of 70s Prog, Middle Eastern Folk, and a brief glancing blow of Death. Loads of talent performing worldly music and assembled to perfection by Dan Swano. Recommended.