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(57:16, Transit Music Group)
TRACK LIST: 1. Period of Innocence 4:57 2. Atomic Unity 5:44 3. Better Dream 6:10 4. Mystery of the Universe 7:01 5. Endless Illusion 4:50 6. Season of Salvation 7:12 7. Leaden Sky 5:58 8. You Can't Hide 6:55 8. Way without Destination 6:32 9. It Could Happen 1:57 LINEUP: Ashkan Hamedi – vocals Anis Oviesi – keyboards Arash Radan – guitars Sina Khodaeifar – bass Farhood Ghadiri – keyboards Khashayar Ravangar – drums With: Sima Mohsenzade – vocals Fariba Hasanloo – voice
Prolusion. The Iranian band MAVARA was formed back in 2001, and from their base in a country not renowned for being a fertile territory for bands exploring western-oriented music they established themselves as the premier progressive rock band in their home nation, releasing two full-length studio albums in 2005 and 2009 respectively. In 2013 Mavara relocated to the US, and released their third CD "Season of Salvation" through Transit Music Group.
Analysis. One of the stated influences of this experienced Iranian band is Riverside. Which in some ways is revealing, but in other ways will give potential listeners a somewhat false lead when it comes to the kind of music that is at hand here. If one were to summarize Mavara's 2013 CD, melodic progressive rock is a description that should come fairly soon, with words like accessible not long after. At some point one might indicate that this is a band that should have a fairly wide appeal as well. Which brings me back to the stated Riverside influence. In this case the lead vocals are the main feature that brings forth the associations towards this fine Polish band, vocalist Hamedi appearing to have a very similar approach and a voice that at least to some extent can be compared to the vocals of Riverside's Mariusz Duda. Hamedi hasn't developed his voice quite as much though; perhaps he has started out with somewhat less of a natural talent, but there is a similarity there that is noticeable. It is an approach that fits the material at hand rather well too, and Hamedi carries quite a few songs throughout by way of his vocal talents. What Mavara doesn't provide as much are hard-edged, dark compositions with dramatic flair and a certain progressive metal orientation. Instead, the compositions tend to exist inside a triangle made up of classic era Marillion, Eloy and the calmer, ballad-oriented aspect of Riverside. Plucked guitar details and dampened riffs are the order of the day, with soft keyboard coating and fairly often with clever use of single notes and careful motifs by the piano adding a softer, frail touch to the proceedings. Some sequences are harder edged, a select few even with a slight metal bite to them, but gently cosmic flavored interludes and sections sporting more developed keyboard and guitar constellations closer to the likes of Eloy are still much more prominent than anything with a metal touch, alongside gentler escapades closer in style to Riverside's early ballads, as mentioned. Otherwise some instances of tranquil, subtly cosmic-sounding interludes is a charming feature that appears now and then, and there are certain details on the composition Endless Illusion that makes me suspect that this is a band that do know their Iron Maiden as well. Overall this CD comes across as a fairly solid specimen of accessible, melodic progressive rock, one that does have a few songs of a more uneven quality towards the end, as I experienced them, but otherwise a charming and tasteful production.
Conclusion. The US-based Iranian band Mavara comes across as a quality provider of melodic progressive rock on their third full-length production "Season of Salvation". If you can imagine a band that combines Eloy, early Marillion and Riverside's ballads into a compelling whole you should have a fairly good idea about the music at hand here, and if this combination sounds intriguing to you, there's a good chance that you'll find this CD to be a compelling one.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 4, 2014
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