One of the biggest surprises of the year so
far, in what concerns the progressive metal circles, just has to be
Thin Ice Crawling by Israeli debutants Soul
There is so many things going on in their debut album that one just has to listen, repeatedly, to this album to really start getting a well scoped idea of what is presented.
The first thing that I noticed about this album is the apparent fragility of their proposed approach over melodic/classically inspired/folk-world palette of influences. The music sounds delicate and smooth but at the same time strong and compact, just like well polished crystal. And though it can be best considered inside the prog-metal aesthetics, the band does strive and fully achieves a sound that has as much in common with symphonic art-rock as it has with metal.
Listening to this album does take us on a trip through varied meadows from where the band harvesters its sound. From the classically inspired (keyboard emulated) orchestrations almost like Symphony X or Kamelot, to the pastoral tapestries of mid-70’s Jethro Tull, passing through melodic symphonic art-rock that may bring Phideaux or even early Genesis to mind; the more complex symphonic parts reminiscent of little Tragedies; the Victorian/Elizabethan folk à la Blackmoore’s Night; the Middle-Eastern intrusions reminding me of the folk moments of compatriots Orphaned Land; and many other references could be pointed out in an absolutely vain quest to try and frame what is going on throughout the (all) excellent 9 compositions of this album.
What does remain is that the band is not
only able to accomplish a fantastic and wide gamut of tendencies, but they are
perfectly able to turn them into a solid, fully enjoyable, dynamic and
beautiful sonic experience.
The vocals are mostly female, and they are
simply great: semi-operatic (just enough) with feel and composure, providing an
emotional ride on top of the waving musicality.
While the most notorious work here is done
by the keyboards, which provide the majority of the classic/folk/world music
moments, all the other instruments do interact in a fascinating way, constantly
providing shifts and switches that make the music sound, many times, epic and
This Israeli band has simply successfully merged all the possible approaches over melodic progressive metal, combining them in a flowing musicality that always sound smooth and proper. No extreme fireworks or forced changes in direction. No!! This all sounds so natural and entwined that one may wonder why hadn’t anyone made it like this before. And this ends up being the greater achievement by Soul Enema: the natural and focused way the music flows.
Do yourself a favor and go get this gem of
an album. Even if you are not into prog-metal and prefer your progressive doses
of sympho, art-rock or folk, go get this album anyway. It is a great listening
experience no matter your prog background.
I am astonished that two of my favorite
albums so far this year have emerged from the Israeli prog-metal scene. After
the great (but more extreme) Orphaned Land new album, now this one…
Soul Enema just became a band to keep close track, anticipating in great expectation what will they produce next.