It's always nice to discover a new band especially when this band affects you with their compositions. Well, such a band is Distorted Harmony, a progressive metal outfit from Israel. They started in 2009 when keyboardist and composer Yoav Efron teamed up with drummer Yogev Gabav. The line-up was completed in 2011 when vocalist Misha Soukhinin joined, followed by guitarist Guy Ladau and bassist Iggy (Japaleno) Cohen. The song writing process already began in 2006 and over the years the songs had been finished to be released independently in 2012 as their debut album Utopia.
The album's opener Kono Yume starts off nicely. Piano sounds segue gently into a bombastic orchestration that suddenly changes into a very heavy metal riff. A piano that contrasts with heavy metal guitars is something that always makes me weak in the knees; I truly love this combination. The next thing that touches me is the relaxed voice of Soukhinin; he never shouts or screams, he sings perfectly in tune, a typical voice that can lift a song to a higher level. The combination of keyboard and guitar is well-balanced. Both instruments get the chance to excel over the slightly bombastic background. An acoustic guitar introduces Breathe, a soft and easy opening before the powerful madness arises. This piece builds up towards a stunning rumbling bass part playing on top of the rolling drums. The instrumental part is heavy, changing moods from powerful to gently. Again the vocals move me; an emotional voice starts softly, but gently builds up to a catchy and repeating part. This voice in combination with just a piano is certainly a highlight just like the ultra-heavy riffing upon which some stunning keyboard parts are played.
Obsession starts atmospheric, but soon a staccato guitar sound appears that immediately stands out. Again the long instrumental parts are groovy containing excellent keyboard parts. In this song the vocals are less prominent than in the previous songs; a good chance to enjoy the instrumentalists. With a playing time of seven minutes and thirty seconds Blue is the shortest song on Utopia having a powerful background, extensive vocals, great guitar melodies and flashy keyboard solos. The first one and a half minute of Unfair contains a kind of progressive rock with a strong bombastic edge, before the trashy metal riffs take over. The vocals are rather unusual here, but well-done anyway and still the basics remain strong, which is a compliment for the instrumentalists. It seems as if on top of this, the keyboards play their own melody. The vocals combined with a fretless bass make this song shift in the direction of jazz-rock or fusion.
The title track is the longest of the album containing a basic guitar riff with the intensity of Iron Maiden. It provides the basic riff, but that's the only similarity with this metal band. The slightly higher-pitched vocals have to 'fight' against the power of the aforementioned trio and in the middle section a nice spoken voice can be heard on top of an acoustic guitar, just before the powerful music returns. Efron's keyboards provide a great contrast, but he also performs an excellent solo.
To me Distorted Harmony are a pleasant surprise. Their debut album fits like a glove. All that you could wish for being a progressive metal fan is presented here: strong emotional vocals, guitars that sound solid as a rock with a heavy metal edge and a rhythm section that creates a perfect foundation for the guitar and the excelling keyboards. Utopia contains perfect pieces of music!
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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