Roots And Roads is the third solo album from Israeli multi-instrumentalist but above all guitarist Yossi Sassi. You might know him as the founder and composer of Orphaned Land. With this album, Yossi and his band have really found their own style. Their manager describes it as an Oriental prog metal orgasm. Well, an eargasm it is for sure!!
Yossi Sassi is a guitar virtuoso and he also plays a variety of traditional string instruments: his own invention, the bouzikitara, a double neck combination of an electric guitar and a bouzouki is featured heavily on this album. Right from the start with the song Wings the beautiful oriental melodies come to full bloom. Or Lubaniker's bass playing is fantastic in this song as it is on the whole album. The far more heavy Palm Dance features American guitar god Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal who, together with the band's second guitarist Ben Azar, deliver some stunning solos. Root Out has beautiful and dramatic vocal lines sung by Yossi Sassi and Diana Golbi. The instrumental track Mr. No Soul brings an acoustic cooldown, before the heavy chords of Madame Twosouls hit your ears. A magnificent Mahavishnu Orchestra-like (but with the Yossi Sassi touch) jazzy hard rocking instrumental. Next song, The Religion Of Music reminds me the most of Yossi's old work with Orphaned Land. That has a lot to do with the vocals of Zaher Zorgatti on this track. Then comes my favourite song on this magnificent album: Winter. A howling clarinet, beautiful traditional themes and an amazing lyrical guitar solo are featured. There's more than 8 minutes of musical emotion that really shows where the music of Yossi Sassi comes from. Not only is he a great guitarist but his vocals in Thundercloud are beautiful.
Sapir Fox delivers some great vocals in Road Less Traveled. It starts nicely with some calm guitar playing but bursts out in heavy chords. Heavy is what I certainly would say about Rizes Kai Dromoi. The traditional instruments give it a wonderful atmosphere. Bird Without A Tree is dominated by piano and the voice of Sapir Fox. I can see this track being used as a score for a film. The last track, Stronger Than Ever, is typical Yossi Sassi with very heavy chords, virtuoso guitar soloing and then a sudden switch to the bouzouki. Brilliant.
When I got this CD I played it five times in a row and discovered more and more. Yossi's band is fantastic. I have to mention drummer Shay Ifrah who holds all these rhythms together and adds his own virtuoso skills to them. Quite a few guest musicians contribute to Roots And Roads. I mentioned Ron Thal, Diana Golbi and Zaher Zorgatti, but I absolutely have to name Bob Katsonis (keyboards and Hammond organ), Roy Zuarels (piano) and Yoav Efron (keyboards). They all make this a superb Yossi Sassi album. An album that really expresses Yossi's Roots and shows the roads he travels to bring us more and more of this wonderful Oriental prog metal. Absolutely an eargasm.
***** Arne van Os van den Abeelen (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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