Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever (Album Review)

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Count Subterranean Masquerade as one of the many bands who’d been on my radar for years who,  despite having very strong ties to Green Carnation and Orphaned Land, I unfathomably never bothered to check out. These dudes were right there, under my nose, and in my Facebook feed. I have no excuse to not already be a diehard fan, yet here I am listening to this bizarrely forward-thinking Israeli ensemble, and the only thing I can think is “dayum.”

The comparisons to that aforementioned, more established Israeli band are inevitable: what Orphaned Land are to metal, Subterranean Masquerade are to progressive rock despite being pretty damn heavy in their own right. “Mountain Fever” opens with that bouzouki/ frame drum combination so beloved by rock bands who tamper with the exotic, and pretty soon gets into the loud guitar + double kick combo more commonly heard in metal. But even with the more metallic elements in play much of the time (including a modest amount of growling), Subterranean Masquerade maintain an airy, eclectic, and not particularly brütal sound that will certainly earn them a few prog rock fans who generally avoid heavier music. “Inwards,” for instance, opens with a melody that might have been lifted from one of Leonard Cohen’s more youthful recordings, dances dangerously close to full-on Indian folk music, stays firmly planted in  Angra/ Maestrick territory, and briefly descends into death metal chaos before closing out with a goddamn horn section and a saxophone solo. And that’s all in under seven minutes.

“Mountain Fever” Album Artwork

And that voice. Dude. Davidavi Dolev is one of those cats who simply must be heard to be believed. Be it gentle whispers, harrowing roars, whispy falsettos, or just plain singing, Dolev delivers an able, impassioned performance regardless of his approach, but with just enough scruff to ensure that he’s still one of us rather than some divine weird guy who excels in every vocal style. Jack of all trades but master of none? Sure, but try and find someone who does everything Dolev does even half as well as he does, and wake me up when you find them.

Dolev’s incredible voices are merely what takes “Mountain Fever” over the top though. The three-guitar onslaught of Or Shalev, Omer Fishbein, and bandleader Tomer Pink create textures both extrinsic and frightful throughout the album’s many crushingly heavy and folksy moments, often employing a seamless light-and-shade structure that recalls  Opeth’s “Still Life” and “Blackwater Park” era without ever once sounding like those illustrious Swedes. There are various sibliminal nods to the luminaries of both progressive music and Jewish pop and folk music, as the shoutout to Pain of Salvation’s Scarsick” that concludes the unbelievable “Ya Shema Evyonecha” and the many tips of the hat to Yehuda Poliker, the Israeli bouzouki maestro who’s made a career of fusing Greco-Sephardic folk with contemporary rock. But while comparisons to the groups that have clearly inspired Subterranean Masquerade are helpful reference points, they are also grossly unfair to this uniquely chimeric band. “Mountain Fever” is a genre unto itself, a wondrously unblemished beast that arranges its many disparate identities into a vortex that devours both disbelief and attention.

Released by: Sensory Records
Release Date: May 14th, 2021
Genre: Progressive Metal

Musicians:

  • Tomer Pink / Guitars
  • Or Shalev / Guitar
  • Omer Fishbein / Guitars
  • Davidavi Dolev / Vocals
  • Shai Yallin / Keyboards
  • Golan Farhi / Bass
  • Jonathan Amar / Drums

“Mountain Fever” track-listing:

1.         Snake Charmer
2.         Diaspora, My Love
3.         Mountain Fever
4.         Inwards
5.         Somewhere I Sadly Belong
6.         The Stillnox Oratory
7.         Ascend
8.         Ya Shema Evyonecha
9.         For the Leader, With Strings Music
10.       Mångata

9.5 Excellent

Not merely a collection of songs, but a collection of journeys, and an easy contender for Album of the Year

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 9.5
  • Production 9.5
Share.

Comments are closed.

24,572Fans
2,055Followers
47,400Subscribers