a young band blew me away with a debut that still lingers in my ears. Heck, my
wife uses one of their songs as her ringtone. That band was Distorted Harmony,
an Israeli progressive metal band with a fresh, eclectic sound.
'Utopia', was my album of the year for 2012. So, when they announced their
sophomore album, I instantly had to make a connection with them so that I could
get the chance to review it.
expectations be any higher?
I almost feel bad for the band
because there are so many people out there that have huge expectations for this
new album, almost unfair expectations. And, yet, I think Distorted Harmony has
met those expectations, and even exceeded them, just not in the way that anyone
is expecting. Their new album is called 'Chain Reaction', and it is very
different from their debut album.
Harmony has changed. They come across as more mature, more skilled, and more
aware of what they want to play. Their first album leaned heavily on Dream
Theater at times, but 'Chain Reaction' has thrown off that mantle almost
completely. Gone are the technical (even cheesy) piano lines that Yoav Efron
played with such skill, and in comes a darker, more subtler synth, though there
are some piano lines that still serve a warm purpose in slower, more dramatic
portions. While there is still much finger work from guitarist Guy Landau, the
guitars are heavier, more stuttering, and more riff oriented. Iggy Cohen on bass
has changed into a composer of funky and appropriate bass lines that are
foundational to the music. Lastly, Yogev Gabay on drums may have changed the
least, and that's just fine. His delicate but kinetic style abounds with
flourishes and skill that I really enjoy. As a whole, the band plays furiously
and their virtuosity shows, but their technical prowess comes together in such a
way that they all sound like one unit, creating impressive walls of sound and
also delicate reflective moments.
Misha Soukhinin is back, and he's better than ever. His voice was somewhat
controversial the first time around, as some people claimed his voice is 'too
pop'. And you know what? It definitely is not a metal voice, and that is a huge
compliment. His range is fantastic, his unique personality is a strong as ever,
and his maturity in skill is becoming more apparent. Misha is destined to be one
of the best, and, besides, he's hilarious.
of pop, though, I must point out of the biggest shifts for Distorted Harmony
here is the pop and alternative influences that show themselves in catchier
sections, ultra-polished grooves, raw riffing and choruses, and an accessibility
that is strange for a metal album. If I had to make a comparison, I would say
that this album sounds more like a metallic Muse album, complete with the
soaring vocals, vocals filters, and creative instrumentals. This shift in sound
is extremely welcome for me, and I'm very proud that Distorted Harmony has gone
out on a limb.
Reaction' is very well paced, diverse, concise, and very deep lyrically. I feel
that they really selected the best compositions they wrote, and created some
very different artwork. The album starts off with one of my favorite songs of
the year called 'Every Time She Smiles', an explosive, catchy track with a
wonderful feel. As the album progresses, we get a great taste of all sorts of
tones and sounds, from the heaviness of 'Children of Red' to the genius but
groovy instrumental 'Nothing (But the Rain)' and from the ballad structure of
'As You Go' to the ethereal to climactic bombast of 'Methylene Blue'. That last
track is a close second on the album, as it starts out soft and surreal and
progresses to an amazing instrumental climax. I must comment on the track
'Misguided', too, as it was originally released as a demo last year. The song
sounds different, especially the funky little bass exercise they added towards
the end. Overall, it has definitely been elevated, although some of Misha's
vocals are a little less emotional.
Harmony may or may not have topped their debut. The fact is that it's really
tough to decide that when 'Utopia' and 'Chain Reaction' are so different in
purpose and style. For what it's worth, I think 'Chain Reaction' will be my
favorite of the two, and it harks back to some of the alternative music I used
to love and then combines it with some of the most technical yet purposeful
progressive metal that I've heard. For what it's worth, 'Chain Reaction' is the
best progressive metal album thus far in 2014.