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Stormy Atmosphere - 2012 - "Color Blind"

(53:11, MALS Records)


*****+
                 

TRACK LIST:   

1.  Awaken 7:00
2.  The Earthworker 0:58
3.  Circle 5:57
4.  Bridge 5:52
5.  Fifth Season 9:06
6.  Conspiracy-1 2:19
7.  Conspiracy-2 8:11
8.  Hand Colored 4:20
9.  Last 2:07
10. Chance 7:15

LINEUP:

Eduard Krakov  keyboards
Artiom Lichtstein  guitars
Teddy Schvets  vocals
Dina Shulman  vocals
Rami Peri  basses
With:
Or Argash  drums
&:
A few subsidiary musicians

Prolusion. Color Blind is the debut album by STORMY ATMOSPHERE, from Israel (albeit the names of most of the musicians suggest that they or their parents hail from the former USSR). It was originally released in 2009 by the band itself, but wasnt properly distributed even within their homeland. After all, the Russian label MALS Records reissued it earlier this year.

Analysis. Eight of the albums ten tracks contain vocals with English lyrics, and four of those, Awaken, Circle, Conspiracy-2 and Chance, are creations of practically the same compositional approach. In all cases the band performs Prog-Metal (of the Scandinavian variety, to my mind) with elements of Art-Rock and has a sound that resembles a cross between early Pain Of Salvation, early-to-mid 90s Tiamat and Nightwish, infusing dark symphonic rock the energy it is often lacking in, playing and singing with an amazing passion. With an average track length exceeding 7 minutes, all of the pieces give the band enough time to develop themes. From time to time keyboardist Eduard Krakov, bassist Rami Peri and guitarist Artiom Lichtstein get into some highly involving soloing, the most unusual stylistic twists courtesy of the acoustic guitar (sic) in the form of Flamenco. The bands two vocalists are equally skilful, though. Teddy Schvets low, at times growling, voice is in stark contrast with Dina Shulmans soprano, but they do sound natural singing together when singing together, to be more precise, as each of them sings alone from time to time; that is, alternately rather than simultaneously. There are also Teddys declamatory whisperings in places, and those remind me of King Diamonds. With their riffs, a lot of which are still hardly less angry than Pain Of Salvation or Tiamat, the songs Fifth Season and Hand Colored are both structurally almost not unlike the described ones (and might at first seem to be on most levels similar to those). Compositionally, however, theyre somewhat simpler, featuring fewer sudden shifts in direction, particularly the latter piece, some parts of which could definitely be called balladic. On the other hand, theyre as good as probably everything by Nightwish, their scarcity of really profound arrangements well compensated for their dramatic delivery, to say the very least. Of the remaining two songs, Conspiracy-1 is a traditional ballad, whereas Bridge is in many ways remarkable in its own way. It begins and develops as a complicated art-rock ballad, standing out for some effectual violin and acoustic guitar patterns (the latter once again in the flamenco style), but finishes almost as a classic prog-metal tune. By the way, on any of the three simpler songs Teddy doesnt use the low timbres of his voice, singing either in a traditional rock manner or even in a quasi-operatic one a chameleon vocalist indeed. Finally, we get two instrumental pieces. One of them, Last, is an intro to Chance in fact, painting dark space-music landscapes, most of which remind me of Planets from Tiamats Wildhoney. Another, The Earthworker, is a lively interplay between acoustic guitar and violin, inspired by Jewish folk music, most likely.

Conclusion. This album comes highly recommended to anyone who likes the idea that runs all through the review. When writing it I tried to be as fair and objective as, I hope, I always am.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 5, 2012
The Rating Room


Stormy Atmosphere - 2012 - "Color Blind"

*****

Analysis. The Israeli band STORMY ATMOSPHERE was formed in 2002 by Eduard Krakov and Teddy Shvets. From that point and onwards they developed a concept and slowly put together a band to realize it. The end result was initially released in 2009 as "Colorblind", a production that was reissued by the Russian label MALS Records in 2012. Stormy Atmosphere is yet another band that documents the popularity and vitality of the metal-oriented parts of the progressive rock realm. Not that the band has crafted itself a shining diamond of true brilliance on their first escapade into the world of recording artists, but they do showcase that there's still a fair few possibilities left to explore even in the more accessible parts of this stylistic direction. The dominant aspect of this production is the use of lead vocals. For this particular detail they have opted for a fairly popular approach, with a male and female vocalist sharing lead duties as well as supplementing each other by way of harmonizing or contrasting each other. Teddy Shvets has his forte in theatrical delivery, verging on the semi-operatic, while Dina Shulman mostly sticks to an operatic approach both when handling lead and backing vocal duties. A popular vocals setup inside and outside of progressive music, and one that many do have a soft spot for. In this case both vocalists are impeccable in their delivery throughout, and those fond of high quality vocals will find plenty to enjoy from this detail alone. Musically the songwriters have opted for a rather varied approach. My personal impression is that the core of the compositions resides within so-called power metal, sporting galloping rhythms and powerful riffs in energetic constellations. But the canvas has been expanded quite liberally along the way, and there's room for gentler passages sporting acoustic guitars and piano as dominant instruments as well as folk-oriented sequences sporting some nifty, delicate flute details. But grinding, dark-toned massive guitar riffs supplemented by relatively sophisticated keyboard arrangements have their pace too, and those fond of a more hard rock oriented guitars and organ combo will find quite a few instances of that as well. What makes this a progressive metal production rather than a sophisticated metal creation is how these different styles have been utilized. The general tendency is that they are used in just about every composition, and, with alterations in style, mood, atmosphere and pace an ongoing feature the end result warrants a description as progressive metal, at least as far as my personal opinion goes. As long as the metal aspect is a key feature, and suitably developed at that. When that is said, I suspect that this isn't an album that will have that much of a strong appeal to a dedicated progressive metal audience. The music remains too accessible and arguably too mainstream oriented to cater for the tastes of those with a dedicated and purebred taste for progressive metal solely.

Conclusion. Stormy Atmosphere delivered a fine debut album of the kind that should find favour amongst fans of mainstream oriented metal such as Nightwish but with a taste and desire for material of a somewhat more sophisticated nature. Dual male and female vocals with theatrical and operatic delivery are something of a cornerstone feature, supplemented by a varied musical backdrop that touches upon ballad oriented rock, folk music and power metal in addition to accessible progressive metal. A band and an album well worth taking note of by those who find this description tantalizing.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 15, 2013
The Rating Room


Related Links:

MALS Records
Stormy Atmosphere


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