Wow, it doesn’t happened very often that I enjoy a progressive rock release as much as I did with Subterranean Masquerade’ Vagabond. First a few words on Subterranean Masquerade; it is an international and multi cultural group (mainly Israeli/Norwegian) playing the music they like. It features, among others, the members of Orphaned Land and Green Carnation. They were founded in 1997 with an idea to blend progressive rock, doom metal. Jazz, psychedelic rock of the 70s and a touch of the avant-garde. Vagabond is this constellation’ third full-length containing 9 lengthy songs.
First thing one notes when listening to Vagabond is the fact that it is definitely a very fluid album. On this latest offering the band still blends the same aforementioned styles and influences that one has come to love and expect from this 7-piece band, but also by adding multiple new influences. Those range from Jethro Tull over Opeth, from Dream Theater to Fleetwood Mac, Orphaned Land, King Crimson, Katatonia, Pink Floyd and anything in-between.
There’re many alternative riffs on this opus, cheerful vocals, impressively good song-writing and handling of both guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. I esp. enjoyed numerous middle-eastern (Israeli folklore) sounds and influences, simply lovely tunes.
Also worth noting is that Vagabond is the first album without Paul Kuhr on vocals, but they have Kjetil Nordhus back (singer from Green Carnation) and Eliran Weitzman.
Vagabond opens with a song called “Place For Fairytales”; starting off with a jazzy Middle-eastern sounds, with horns, clarinets and female singing. “Nomad” is the following track being a heavier track with some brutal, extreme yet beautiful death metal. “Kippur” is another awesome song and one of my absolute favorites off Vagabond. It also begins with funky fusion jazz part. It is very diverse song where things to times get very slow, while other times extreme and with this touch of death metal.
The next song “Dalad Bavos” is a the instrumental follow up; sound beautiful and professional. The album proper finishes with “Hymn of the Vagabond” which begins quietly and slowly builds as it goes along. To top it all comes a cover of David Bowie’ “Space Oddity”.
The album was mixed by Christer Andre Cederberg (Anathema, Tristania, etc.) and mastered by Tony Lindgren at ‘Fascination Street studio’, which has secured the final crunchy approach in the sound, so all parameters are met for ultimate quality.
The production is nice, crispy and clean with all the myriad of instruments sharp and clear, and the vocals, both clean and harsh, are balanced properly in the mix.
This album is good! I’m not even able to fully compare it to its predecessors, because Vagabond is a story of its own. It simply takes too much time in the player, and I enjoy every second of this diverse offering. Subterranean Masquerade are one of the most exciting and promising ethnic-influenced prog acts to emerge from the underground these days.
Highly recommended and ‘a must listen’ for any prog rock lunatic and fan of the above mentioned artists.
The band is expected to tour extensively, in support of the album but you can visit them already now at https://www.facebook.com/Submasq/