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Bad Salad: Uncivilized

First a little bit of history about Bad Salad...

Some might be familiar with the band's guitar player, Thiago Campos. He was one of the first people to draw comparisons between some of the songs on Dream Theater's A Dramatic Turn of Events and their earlier material on the official Mike Portnoy forum, and when Portnoy agreed with his detailed analysis, a great number of people were intrigued about his ear for music and eager to check out his band.

However, Bad Salad was still auditioning for a singer at the time, after having played as an instrumental act for a long time. Almost everyone who heard their absolutely stunning cover (possibly the best I've ever heard) of Dream Theater's "Metropolis Pt.1" on YouTube (with a different singer) was certain they had the chops that many other bands still lacked even after recording a set of albums to their name. Finally, when Bad Salad recruited Denis Oliveira, the lineup of the band was complete and they got into the studio to cut their self-released debut album.

So how has their music been shaped with the arrival of Denis Oliveira? Oliveira has a great yet different vocal style. His delivery may not do it for everyone on first listen. If I had to make a comparison, I'd liken him to Andromeda's David Fremberg with less range yet more aggression. At times, his vocal lines are slightly processed to give the songs a deeper sound character, but he is also given plenty of space to inject melodic lines into mix. He lends his signature vocal presence to each and every song and rather than trying and failing the dangerously high notes, he stays within his comfort zone and makes up for any technical deficiency with his emotional power. Anyone who hears the song "Mourning" should be convinced of his talents; he shifts between deep clean vocals to a slightly gritty tone during the 'chorus' and the whole song is beautifully written around his voice to fully supplement him.

Then, there's the instrumentation. The drummer is octopus-like, but he makes it seem very direct and easy somehow. His fills and cymbal use add colour to the songs' turns and twists, especially when backed by huge bass lines. Felipe Campos' bass sits right in the centre of the mix, providing a spidery low end to the complex composition and enhancing the nuanced rhythmic shifts with finesse. The intro of "The Second Calling" is just one example of how tight a rhythm tandem they are. Campos also adopts a strong jazz vibe to his playing here, which makes it one of the album's highlights.

Thiago Campos' guitar playing is impeccable. He certainly comes from the John Petrucci school, employing a mix of impressive pick attacks and clean, nicely flowing legato lines. The solo of "Crowded Sky" is the kind of solo any progressive metal fan loves; it's shredding and highly intricate yet still tinged with indelible melodic flavours. Anyone who complains about self-indulgence on recent progressive metal releases will be blown away by Campos' restraint. That said, when he does cut loose, he'll sear your face! Listen to "Damned" and you'll know what I mean.

The keyboards are supplied by former Khallice (remember this great yet underrated prog band?) member Cesar Zolhof. Zolhof's touch is more comparable to that of Kevin Moore. He has an uncanny ability to infuse the songs with class and character. Even when he is not actively present in the mix, the songs are marked with his atmospheric touch. He also lays down blazing solos (which he swaps with Campos' burning guitar leads), but even during the fastest parts his melodies are etched deep into the band's craft.

Don't make the mistake many others are making -- if you've refrained from checking out this band because they're called Bad Salad, think again. This is some of the finest progressive metal you'll hear all year. Yes, they are influenced by Dream Theater, but I'm sure they'd be the first to admit it. And there's nothing wrong with following one of the genre's greatest acts, especially if you're adding your own twist to everything.

The physical CD comes with a 20-page booklet and is well worth tracking down.

Track Listing

  1. Crowded Sky
  2. Nemesis
  3. Mourning
  4. The Second Calling
  5. Damned
  6. Sights from Within
  7. Dawn of the Machine

Added: August 4th 2012
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Bad Salad @ Facebook
Hits: 4140
Language: english

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