In 1997 a progressive metal band was formed that would one day release this fine album called The Great Bazaar. No doubt those familiar with the prior works of the group in question namely Subterranean Masquerade will not at all be surprised by my favourable impression. Just take a look at the very positive reviews by others covering their earlier recordings on this very site and singing the band's praises.
Following their first release, an EP Temporary Psychotic State in 2004 came a full length album in 2005 Suspended Animation Dreams after which Subterranean Masquerade took an extended break. The groups founder guitarist/songwriter Tomer Pink eventually brought Subterranean Masquerade back and with quite a substantial change, as this time it would be with their own line-up for the band's second full length album, not relying on multiple guest musicians. Though there is one notable extra appearance on The Great Bazaar that is Kobi Farhi vocalist of Orphaned Land who has worked with the band previously. Speaking of Orphaned Land, fans of that band should delve right into this album, actually there's such a broad spectrum to Subterranean Masquerade's sound that fans of progressive music in general should take the time to give The Great Bazaar a go. I should also mention that before work commenced on this new album and all of the line-up was in place, there was another EP released titled Home.
The Great Bazaar is a concept album about a man who has grown tired of the same old daily grind and decides it's time for a major change in his life, and so he goes on a journey in both a physical and spiritual sense. Musically the album is quite a stylish mixture while yes there is a metal component, a wonderful Middle Eastern element is incorporated and an extensive range of instruments have been used in its creation as "World Music" is also something the band are fond of.
The musicianship is top notch and the vocals, well let's just say The Great Bazaar is the total package. Chiefly they have the compelling clean input of Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation, Tristania), and then there are the contrasting deathly growls of Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom, These Are They). A vibrant opener "Early morning Mantra" is very impressive with many cool extras like the percussion, and the use of different vocal styles. Subterranean Masquerade's drummer Matan Shmuely (Orphaned Land) truly shines on "Reliving the Feeling" with his nimble foot and stick work he delivers a tasteful performance. "Tour Diary" has a slow, moving feel with a sweet soaring guitar solo that really hits the spot. There's colourful performances on the instrumental "Nigen", Subterranean Masquerade continue to serve up more positive tunes and finish with "Father & Son" where you find Kobhi Farhi on vocals, a highlight of which is the buoyant music.
Let's hope that Subterranean Masquerade don't go on another hiatus, as a quality release like The Great Bazaar is proof that this band have the makings of something quite special.
1. Early morning Mantra
2. Reliving the Feeling
3. Tour Diary
5. Blanket of Longing
7. Father & Son