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TRACK LIST: 1. Out of Silence the One Ran & Returned 2:21 2. Ustuqus-al-Uss al Avvalin val Akharin 3:13 3. Outer Aeonic Descend 3:02 4. My Inner Sun 4:19 5. Government 4:19 6. Naught Been I Though 3:28 7. My Third Eye 4:20 8. Artemis the Huntress 5:39 9. Supreme Grades 4:10 LINEUP: Salim Ghazi Saeedi – guitar, bass; keyboards; drums Pooyan Khajavi – guitar Shahram Khosraviani – percussion
Prolusion. The Iranian act ARASHK was a positive surprise for me when I was lucky enough to review their debut album back in 2008. Iran, although for a long time a western-oriented country, isn't exactly known for their modern music production these days, and to come across such an original sounding act from what was once known as Persia was an adventurous experience indeed. "Ustuqus-al-Uss" is the third production by this outfit, and was released in March 2008.
Analysis. Yet again I have to admit that Arashk has made an album that was a really positive surprise, and even more so than what I experienced with their debut. On this current occasion, their brand of distorted, dark and innovative progressive metal has been put to use in a much more diversified musical landscape. Indeed, diversity is probably the key word most who encounter this album will use in their descriptions of it. The opening number is a forewarning of what's to come here, a brief, intense and highly atmospheric exploration of the classical symphonic variety, which I presume is performed by synths here: a composition that grabs the listener’s attention and holds it steady from start to finish. The following piece, the title track of the album, reveals more of what to expect, blending exotic sounding violin solos and flurries with Arashk's trademark distorted and quirky guitar riffs and with several really intriguing call and answer routines between violin and guitar as some of the several highlights in this ever-evolving exploration. And the album continues on with this approach, if not specific sound. Quirky drum patterns and riff patterns are blended with symphonic elements, wandering piano runs and wholehearted jazz-segments are thrown in on occasion as well as mellow, ambient passages. Dissonances and arrhythmic elements are utilized as effects but also clear cut melodic and harmonic elements are given a place in this innovative musical potpourri. Rarely predictable, ever evolving and yet always maintaining a distinct sound, this is a highly innovative and creative effort by a highly talented outfit.
Conclusion. With a plethora of stylistic elements blended with their rather distinct variety of progressive metal, Arashk has created a delightful album in "Ustuqus-al-Uss", as exotic as the title implies yet also easy to enjoy. Some passages may be rather challenging to decipher, yet there's no need to have acquired an advanced musical taste and understanding to be able to like those tracks. First and foremost this is an excursion that should have great appeal among listeners with a taste for adventurous and innovative music, in particular those with an eclectic and broad musical taste which covers styles as different as jazz and progressive metal.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 15, 2009
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