Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond
Metal mixed with middle eastern influences has almost become a common thing today – Orphaned Land, Amaseffer or Myrath come to mind, for example. Subterranean Masquerade found their own niche in this area, by adding the beautiful clear voice of Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation, Tristania) to their mix.
After “The Great Bazaar”, the new album “Vagabond” is the second one with Nordhus singing. Mastermind Tomer Pink refined the band’s new trademark sound – metal ranging between doom and death metal and world music, combined with clarinet and saxophone sound, tribal drumming and the duel between Nordhus’ clean voice and the growls by Eliran Weitzman.
From the beginning we find ourselves back at an oriental bazaar, with traffic noise and chatters around, and a beautiful (sitar?) melody transporting that very ambient before expanding into the classical Subterranean Masquerade music, saxophone, keyboards, and whatnot. ‘Place for Fairytales’ sets the path for the album, with a musically very rich and atmospheric mood, which is continued directly in the more straight-forward ‘Nomad’, where the band’s trademark – a woodpecker – makes a short appearance.
After a short interlude (‘Carousal’), ‘Kippur’ marks the peak of “Vagabond”, no, of Subterranean Masquerades creation. Here, the mix of Green Carnation‘s sound and Tomer Pink’s oriental music shines at it’s best, it waves from moody singing and growls to beautiful instrumental parts, which gives us a taste of Morricone styled film music, then turns into an electronic dance part, which blends into the sounds of the saxophone once again – the change and charge that the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur holds – the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
After the pretty poppy ‘As you are’ the story ends with the ‘Hymn of the Vagabond’, a song that once again gathers Subterranean Masquerade’s trademark sounds and ends with oriental chants, the sitar sets in once again, and a long aaahahaaaa-part recreates the festive atmosphere that the band creates on stage.
Oh, would this album have ended here! Alas, Subterranean Masquerade wanted to pay tribute to David Bowie, a thing that can not be done often enough. But ‘Space Oddity’, as beautifully it is sung by Nordhus, breaks the album’s spirit completely and for the most part lacks that “Subterranean” sound. This quite slow version is not badly made at all, but if I want to enjoy “Vagabond” to it’s fullest, I stop it before.
That last song blended out, Subterranean Masquerade once again take us to a beautiful trip through the middle east, full of life, spirit and joy, blending Jewish, Arab, European influences to one homogeneous body – and how much music like this is needed in these times full of hate and turmoil. Subterranean Masquerade can not be thanked for enough for that overcoming of boundaries and differences – so please do so by getting this gem, and go see them on their next tour! Subterranean Masquerade deserve all the love they can get.
1. Place For Fairytales
6. Daled Bavos
7. As You Are
8. Hymn Of The Vagabond
9. Space Oddity