Subterranean Masquerade - The Great Bazaar
Taklit Music
Progressive Metal
7 songs (38:31)
Release year: 2015
Subterranean Masquerade
Reviewed by Goat

It's a source of surprise to me how much progressive metal gets produced these days, and how much of it is sub-par Dream Theater or Fates Warning rip-offs with little to interest the average fan. Surely a genre so based around pushing music beyond boundaries shouldn't stick so resolutely within them? Thank heavens, then, for Subterranean Masquerade, back a decade after their well-received début Suspended Animation Dreams to answer the question that fellow reviewer Alex and many others have asked since then – what next? Well, that the first vocals you hear on The Great Bazaar are 'welcome back' seems to be a sly wink from the band, and it's good to be back in their world indeed. There's more of a Middle-Eastern slant to the music this time around, largely replacing the jazz of before, perhaps enhanced by new drummer Matan Shmuely of Orphaned Land, making for an enjoyable addition to the band's already enjoyable mixture of genres.

In fact, aside from mastermind Tomer Pink and November's Doom growler Paul Kuhr, the line-up is all-new, most particularly welcoming Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation fame on clean vocals. As you'd expect, this talented line-up work well together, and they've made a well-written album that is more accessible than its predecessor and much less weirdly experimental in feel, but one just as rewarding for its focus. Pink Floyd comparisons are good ones, although the occasional harsh vocals and frequent Middle-Eastern melodies throws this into more original realms. What really sells you is the songwriting, however, which has come on leaps and bounds. Opener Early Morning Mantra is immediately fun, the initial Arabian vibe soon turning to proggery with entertaining percussion and a Jethro Tull-esque flute solo drawing the listener in, the following Reliving the Feeling keeping this friendly vibe going with more vocal hooks and entertaining soloing, not least for the jazzy interlude, and a chorus sure to be stuck in your head for days.

The overall vibe is close to the emotionally-invested prog of Green Carnation, particularly on Blanket of Longing, with its heartladen vocals and catchy hooks. Yet the storytelling prog of the likes of Specter is just as alluring, with the well-implemented Eastern elements and the emotion-laden vocals on the second half of the track highly effective. Nine-minute finale Father and Son opens like a ballad, throwing in some harsh vocals and almost ambience, like a nightmarish lullaby, before going full Middle-East prog. I was a dick back in 2005 and didn't appreciate Suspended Animation Dreams for the very good album it was, but I've come to appreciate it since then, continually coming back to it as an example of a talented collective of musicians making excellent prog metal. Well, The Great Bazaar kicks its arse. Highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
Early Morning Mantra, Reliving the Feeling, Blanket of Longing, Father and Son
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Subterranean Masquerade that we have reviewed:
Subterranean Masquerade - Suspended Animation Dreams reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
Subterranean Masquerade - Temporary Psychotic State reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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