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Anand: Joy 4 Ever

If anything, Norway's Lion Music is one consistent label. Metal is their specialty, be it vocal or instrumental, power or prog, melodic or death. One of their newest releases is Joy 4 Ever by Anand—guitarist Anand Mahangoe, specifically—and this one tends to throw a wrench into LM's proverbial gear shift mechanism. From the outset, something is different: according to the press release, Anand Mahangoe is of Indian descent, was born in South America, moved to Holland at the age of 5—and the album was recorded in Hollywood at Derek Sherinian's studio, the Leopard Room! Anand surely resembles no metalhead or rocker with his short hair, prep school duds and baseball cap, but he plays like one. Fellow Dutchmen Rob Fabvrich & Nick de Vos perform on keyboards & bass, respectively, and spitfire percussionist & Artension skinman Mike Terrana warms the drum throne. Planet X and Zeroesque fans will be happy to hear that Fabvrich's role is noticeably prominent; this livens things up a bit more than if the band was a three-piece, some examples being his organ motif for "Blind Date" and the whirlwind synth leads early on in the opener, "A Dirty Mind Is A…," and "Next." Special mention should be made of Terrana's recorded drums: the snare, kick drum, hi-hat, and ride sound judiciously robust. If anyone blends into the background, it's de Vos, but he's not muted.

Anand's phrasing and soloing—which owe quite a bit to Joe Satriani—emphasize melody over chops, but he's got no problem with 64ths, 128ths, 256ths and beyond when it comes to matching Terrana's machine-gun double-bass antics. "Intimate Dance" counters the sheer power of the "Dirty Mind" & "Blind Date" with an atmospheric sheen lent by rich Korg synth~strings. Anand's lead for "Dance" favors a Morse/Johnson approach for a more balladlike feel—easily matched by the pitch bend-happy synth solo. Judging by the track titles, a certain connection—or theme—is intended; "Intimate Dance" (foreplay) is succeeded by "Meet Mr. Long" and "Get Laid." The latter two titles are amusing, and make one wonder if Derek had any say in naming the tracks (refer to "Money Shot" from the very first Planet X album). "Get Laid" has an absolutely insane synth solo—and with good reason, it's Derek! Mr. F has taken a break and allowed Mr. S back behind his own 'boards. Anand & Derek duel it out in a battle of the titans that is tantamount to pure, unadulterated shred.

"Disillusioned" is the soundtrack for post-coital blues and personality incompatibility; several bars' worth of rests are followed by a ninety-second coda in the form of synth loops/sequencing & a ghostly choir—a nice touch. The title "Get Out" becomes laughable (in a good way) as it erupts in a flash flood of jackhummer drums, dense organ notes, and power chords—de Vos finally gets in on the lead action, momentarily. In accord with an oh-so-natural pattern, the next pair of offerings are called "Next," and "Onatopp"—which carries on with Fabvrich as leader for a great many bars. Terrana batters his toms on "Next," setting the tone (and pace) for primal, mutually-gratifying, instinctual submission--Nip/Tuck's Christian Troy, anyone? Anand's mini-saga culminates in the thematic pieces, "The One" and the title track. As one who doesn't typically indulge in this subgenre, Joy 4 Ever is one startlingly invigorating ride. Wait, that didn't come out right…

Added: October 19th 2003
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: Lion Music
Hits: 2693
Language: english

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