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Kurgan's Bane: Camouflaged in Static

Kurgan's Bane is a great hard rock band from Baltimore formed about 10 years ago by two brothers, Pete Laramee on guitar and Jeff Laramee on drums. Camouflaged in Static is their third album, and the second one with current female vocalist Lisa Francis. I never heard their first disc, but compared to The Future Lies Broken, their new one finds the band expanding on a more direct and somewhat heavier musical direction displaying significant growth and improvement in several areas.

Lisa Francis also guests on bassist Luis Nasser's amazing dark prog rock band Sonus Umbra where she does an awesome job, but hearing her performance on Camouflaged in Static proves how well she has improved over the years. She simply sounds more powerful and expressive. Her delivery is strong and clear, and her vocal melodies are more gripping on this disc. As a matter of fact, everyone seems to have improved greatly since the band's previous album released five years ago. Bassist Luis Nasser is quickly becoming a personal favourite of mine with his unique and very pronounced playing. It seems 2005 is going to be his year. Earlier on, he played on the acoustical instrumental project Might Could's new disc, now the new Kurgan's Bane, and hopefully soon enough we'll have the new Sonus Umbra disc which I expect to be a killer release. Likewise, drummer Jeff Laramee's playing is awesome. He employs amazing fills and rolls exhibiting perfect timing and a very fitting tone. However, the greatest praise goes to his brother Pete Laramee. He simply shines on this disc; he plays numerous guitar solos, fearlessly diving into shred territory and surprising many a fan with his effortless sweeping and pinch harmonics. Almost every song has a beautiful lead solo that will please a lot of prog fans who like their music a bit more on the heavier side with quite a few choppy licks thrown in the mix.

That said, I find this disc less progressive writing-wise, compared to both the previous Kurgan's Bane and the Sonus Umbra stuff. Apparently the band opted for a more in-your-face delivery on this one and saved their more proggy leanings for their other band, since three of them are in both groups. Most of the songs emphasize Francis' beautiful vocals, ranging from midtempo stuff to more higher register vocal lines and some mellow tunes. Some songs worth mentioning are "Override" for its excellent dynamics constantly moving from soft to heavy parts that are always kept within a melodic blueprint. "Mirage" is not only the longest song, but also their most progressive moment. With an evil bass intro, crashing cymbals from Jeff who also lays down some really complex drum beats, the song features Francis' vocals in a different mood, thanks to a clever mixing job in the studio. I am reminded of early 80's Rush when listening to this song, but soon enough, Pete Laramee slices through the piece with an outstanding guitar solo that quickly breaks into an extended instrumental passage, enriched with various wind effects, trumpet sounds, bass solo, and finally a daring interplay that sounds more like Dream Theater than reserved prog rock. A similar pattern is repeated on "The Spectator" which kicks off with a long yet beautiful drum workout, and proves to be extremely heavy, laced by thick bass arpeggios, great hard rock vocals, and a classically inspired lead solo that is simply jaw-droppping.

On "Surface" the band offers their softer side with pretty acoustic motifs, sparse kick drums, atmospheric soundscapes, and a nice interplay between cutting staccato rhythms and booming bass throbs. The guitar is once again oddly tuned generating a fuzzy overall sound but it is so full and lends the song a distinct feel. "Asstro" is the band's instrumental offering, punctuated by stop-start sections, awesome ride and percussion work by Jeff, beautiful alternate picking and a massive guitar solo where Pete's command of melody is bound to impress any metal fan, regardless of what genre they gravitate to. Kurgan's Bane new disc may not be the next big thing, but it is so well damn played, recorded and mixed that I can't help but applaud the guys. It's a real band effort with equal input from everybody. Give it a listen. Now.

Track Listing

  1. I'm Alive (4:24)
  2. Override (4:35)
  3. Mirage (9:06)
  4. Surface (4:54)
  5. Asstro (3:47)
  6. Time Has Come (6:47)
  7. Signal to Noise (6:30)
  8. The Spectator (7:59)
  9. Regret (4:20)
  10. Martyr (7:53)

Added: November 4th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Kurgan's Bane website
Hits: 5380
Language: english

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