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(54:43, ‘Distorted Harmony’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kono Yume 8:40 2. Breathe 8:52 3. Obsession 9:11 4. Blue 7:24 5. Unfair 8:07 6. Utopia 12:30 LINEUP: Misha Soukhinin – vocals Yoav Efron – keyboards Yogev Gabay – drums Guy Landau – guitars Iggy Cohen – bass With: Daniel Markovich – saxophone
Prolusion. The Israeli band DISTORTED HARMONY was formed back in 2009 by composer and keyboardist Yoav Efron when he started working with drummer Yogev Gabay, the remaining members of the band joining the ranks between then and 2011. "Utopia" is their debut album, initially released as a free digital album in the spring of 2012, then later self-released on CD.
Analysis. Distorted Harmony appears to be a fairly ambitious band. Not only do they desire to be the leading progressive metal band of Israel, they also want to work towards being recognized as one of the leading international bands active in the genre. When considering just how many competitors progressive metal bands face, that's a bold and ambitious goal indeed. The band's opening disc "Utopia" is a good start to achieve such a goal in the future, thankfully. It's not a production that will ever be remembered for its innovative features, I suspect, but as far as high quality music of the genre goes it's a solid specimen. The core of their endeavors on this initial effort is Dream Theater-style progressive metal, at least to some extent. Especially in the instrumental passages, quirky and versatile guitar driven escapades are central features, generally dark in tone and often with a subtly menacing mood to them, but with ample room for diversity. Themes featuring contrasting symphonic backdrops and a generally majestic soundscape are just as common as compact parts with the keys providing details of a more distinctly subservient nature, and sequences where Efron is given room to shred along on the tangents, while the guitars are given a less dominating spot another regular feature. Galloping riff and drum interplays with more of a power metal expression appear now and then too, as do slower, dark impact inserts where power riffs provide heavy barrages, but there's also room for sequences with more of a cinematic and gentle arrangement to them. But the gentler parts of this band's repertoire are more thoroughly explored in the vocal parts of the compositions, with a general tendency to develop from dampened, light toned and distinctly melodic verse parts into harder edged intermediate and chorus passages of a nature either majestic or energetic in delivery, frequently with a well developed symphonic backdrop alongside the careful guitar motifs. When Distorted Harmony explores these territories, the resemblance to aforementioned Dream Theater fades quite a bit, and as I experience this CD, the German band Sylvan comes frequently to mind instead, an association strengthened by the melodic, finely controlled vocals of Misha Soukhinin. A good vocalist is an asset to any band, and in this guy Distorted Harmony has struck gold in my opinion. Like Sylvan's Marco Gluhmann, he controls his delivery to the minutest detail, always taking care to maintain the melody and avoid the wailing, yet also able and willing to add a distinct emotional delivery without the need to utilize overly dramatic effects. Those fond of Sylvan mainly due to the vocals can safely note down Distorted Harmony as a band to check out straight away, as can those generally fond of high quality lead vocals, I must add. As for the compositions themselves, they are solid creations throughout. What they may lack in innovative features they make up for in general quality and diversity, up to and including a few details that should bring forth a smile by those familiar with Nine Inch Nails for a brief electronic and vocal effect used on Obsession. But the core and defining track on this disc is the final one. The epic-length title track Utopia assembles just about all the diversity and quirky features of this band into a piece that opens up just as solid as the rest of the material at hand, and then blooms into a superb second half where finer contrasts and starker ones are both beautifully utilized, and with arguably the strongest and most emotional vocals of Soukhinin as the proverbial icing on the cake.
Conclusion. Classic Dream Theater style progressive metal with a fair bit of diversity thrown in for good measure is what Distorted Harmony provides on their debut album "Utopia", up to and including a fair few gentler passages that in style and tone gives me a strong association towards Sylvan, especially in the vocal passages and perhaps mostly due to the superb lead vocals of Misha Soukhinin. A solid debut album by a talented and very promising band, well worth checking out by fans of Dream Theater school progressive metal, and in particular those amongst them who also know and love bands like Sylvan, obviously.
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