Amaseffer - Slaves For Life
InsideOut Music
Middle Eastern-influenced Progressive Metal
10 songs (1:17:51)
Release year: 2008
Amaseffer, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Goat

Israeli Metal that isn’t Orphaned Land tends not to get much of an audience in the wider scene, and whilst there are the occasional bands that call that tempestuous region their home that ‘make it’, few turn out to be much good – Betzefer, anyone? Still, one of the few decent Israeli Metal bands is Prey For Nothing, reviewed elsewhere on this site, and their former guitarist Yuval Kramer is also in this group, Amaseffer (‘Am HaSefer’ – people of the book). Teaming up with former Therion man Mats Levens on vocals and a couple of others including guest growler Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy), the band intend to create a series of albums detailing stories from the Old Testament.

Slaves For Life, the first album in the series, is a look at the book of Exodus and the children of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt under the tyrannical rule of the Pharaoh, and yes, whilst the most obvious comparison is to their countrymen Orphaned Land, Amaseffer are less Folk Metal in style, although there’s still plenty of ethnic instrumentation, percussion and vocals – Orphaned Land crossed with Kamelot is the best I can do to sum their sound up. Don’t expect a great deal of killer riffs, however, since this is quite complex music and some epic symphonic piece can often drown out the guitar. More often than not you’ll be listening to an astonishing array of sounds telling the story far better than lyrics could, from the wailing children of Birth Of Deliverance to the grunts of slaves in the title track. Thankfully all are of high quality and avoid cheesiness, and it’s hard to resist shivers down your neck at times.

It’s a very diverse album, the epic Prog Metal meandering of Midian complete with harsh vocals from Yotam ‘Defiler’ Avni of Prey For Nothing soon turning to the sultry love poetry of Zipporah, Leven trading vocals with Israeli singer Maya Avraham, who sings in Hebrew. However, at times the album does seem slightly more concerned with telling the story than with creating perfect songs – of course, this is wonderful to listen to most of the time, but if you’ve heard plenty of recent Therion you may wonder just what the point of dragging The Burning Bush out to six minutes was, or may get rather bored as the band take excruciating pleasure in lengthening tracks with, for example, distorted Hebrew vocals on the start of Wooden Staff. Even though the ‘Oriental’ vocals are provided by Orphaned Land’s Kobi Farhi, they still go on for just a moment too long. Slaves For Life is first and foremost a concept album, so patience is definitely required.

Assuming you have patience, then there’s much to like here. The rest of Wooden Staff’s vocals are a group-sung version of the prayer Adon Olam, a finale in the Jewish prayer service, and it leads wonderfully into the softly majestic Return To Egypt. The eleven-and-a-half-minutes of Ten Plagues are all excellent, a wonderful song that switches moods near-constantly but never loses its epic touch, and Land Of The Dead finishes the album on an almost perfect note.

I hesitate to pronounce this better than Orphaned Land’s Mabool masterpiece, but there are definitely moments that come close, and considering this is the first of three it seems petty to focus on its faults when it’s such an easy album to like. Whether you’ll end up loving it is another question, but fans of Mabool and Middle Eastern-tinged Prog Metal will certainly get a lot from Slaves For Life.

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Killing Songs :
Slaves For Life, Midian, Ten Plagues, Land Of The Dead
Goat quoted 82 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:15 pm
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