CD Reviews

Various Artists - 'Oriental Metal' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 08, 2012    
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An excellent release.

First pioneered some twenty years ago through the Israeli band Orphaned Land, Oriental Metal has in recent times begun to make a stronger impact on the broader music world. While we here in the UK may well think of ‘Oriental’ as referring to East Asian countries such as Japan or China, for the purposes of Oriental Metal, think more Middle East, with the ten bands on show across this compilation bringing influences from Arabic music into a far more familiar Western metal setting. Fittingly, with his band being right at the forefront of this movement, Orphaned Land singer Kobi Farhi is the compiler of this collection and a damn fine job of it he has done.

The three bands here that Fireworks readers may well be most familiar with are Amaseffer (who feature Mats Leven (Yngwie Malmsteen/Therion) on vocals), Myrath and of course Orphaned Land, with all three illustrating their brand of Eastern flavours, Oriental instrumentation and fist in your face power metal. Amaseffer and especially Myrath have stylistic links to the likes of Firewind, or Kamelot, but the traditional bells, chimes, and wind instruments introduce a different, interesting twist. Making both bands recommended starting points in this genre. The phenomenal Orphaned Land offer up a more muscular power/progressive feast, with a touch of Opeth combining with chants, female and male vocals and atmospheric strings to make for a seductively threatening journey.

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Pentagram on the other hand, aim things firmly at power/traditional metal territory. However keep in mind that each and every band included here add a strong Eastern flavour to their brand of metal, making for innovative, engaging music that is far from ordinary, or run of the mill - but remains none too jolting for the less adventurous. Every track is a winner, although for some the more extreme metal and vocals from Arkan, Almana Shchora, Nile, or Melechesh may prove to be stumbling blocks. The Oriental influences however add colour to the music of these bands too, bringing a surprisingly melodic take on genres that normally eschew that side of things and I have to say that Arkan and Melechesh in particular offer up an impressive take on grinding guitars and growling vocals.

Of the other acts, the all instrumental track from Nervecell is a captivating mixture of ethnic rhythms, bristling riffs and eerie arrangements, while Nile introduce elements of stoner and doom to amazingly varied vocal attacks, resulting in my own personal ‘find’ of the compilation. That leaves Ahl Sina to close things out with strings and guitars clashing in mighty fashion, leading to brooding, dark metal of gigantic proportions.

Every song on this excellent release perfectly illustrates the varied approach that falls under the Oriental Metal umbrella. I appreciate that the more extreme end of things will not be usual fare for many Fireworks & Rocktopia readers; however I urge the more adventurous of you to take a step into a wider musical world. 

Steven Reid

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