Review Summary: An excellent progressive metal album taking elements of doom and melodic death with Oriental folk melodies and beautiful middle eastern female vocals. Add in punching guitars and driving bass lines and you have a hella good album.
The ever expanding power of metal never ceases to amaze me. At one point, metal completely dominated America and the United Kingdom starting in the 1970‘s to 1990‘s before fading out somewhat. But soon enough, metal began to pick up speed and rapidly grow in popularity throughout Europe. It would only be a matter of time before heavy metal would turn into a multi cultural fest ranging from Scandinavia all the way to the middle east. The back stories to America and Europe should be clear by now so I’ll get to the point. The middle eastern scene began in 19991 with their first heavy metal band Orphaned Land bringing a unique twist to an already thought to be extinct genre. Their blend of traditional Jewish and Arabic folk into the harsh realms of metal caught on quickly. Black metal emissaries, Melechesh had formed two years later with other prominent acts such as Bilocate, Khalas, Distorted, and Salem forming in short time. The metal scene began to pick up when Salem became a target of notorious extremist and sole creator of Burzum, Varg Vikerness, who sent the band a bomb through the mail.
Distorted is a progressive metal band hailing from Bat-Yam. Forming in 1996, they released a couple demos and two full length albums as of 2008. Like their predecessors, Orphaned Land, Distorted incorporate Oriental folk melodies into extreme, progressive tinged metal but although they share similar traits, both bands stand out from each other, Distorted taking influence primarily from Opeth, Dark Tranquillity and doom metal. I first heard about his band a couple years back after viewing their single, “Children Of The Fall” on youtube. I was impressed because now a days I’m used to the idea of female fronted metal bands as more of a novelty than anything else. Distorted had shown me that the backing musicianship was just as exquisite as the vocalist, Miri. Plenty of these bands rely on their vocalist to sell out theatres and not much else, resulting in safe, predictable, and stale songwriting that quickly put these groups in the glove box. The first album I heard from this group was their most recent output, “Voices From Within, and at first I was quite impressed with what I’ve heard but after hearing their debut, “Memorial” my mind completely shifted to their debut album. One problem with Voices was that it lacked in catchy hooks and didn’t quite sound as focused as Memorial. Therefore suffering greatly in the lyrical and song writing departments. The guitar work and Miri’s distinct voice were still brilliant but shown to an even greater extent on their debut.
After hearing their last album with mixed feelings, I was quickly anticipating to hear their debut and right off the bat, the opener “ “In Your Light” hit me hard. The song opens with a couple minutes of echoing male and female choir vocals before an ominous riff sets a heavy rhythm for the track. The progressive influence was just as present as ever in the guitar riffs, if not sounding heavier and catchier than anything from Voices From Within. But the thing that immediately drew me in was the drawing power of the female vocalist, Miri. Many bands in the gothic metal genre fail to stand out and instead turn out to be a kid sister of Liv Kristine, Tarja Turunen, or Simone Simmons. Not Miri however, she boasts a very distinct quality to her voice, filled with power and emotion all while wrapped up in Middle Eastern flavor. She might have toned it down in ‘Voices From Within’ but her vocal performance here is one of the strongest I’ve ever heard in metal overall. The guitar work on Memorial is splendid thanks to Distorted featuring a solid rhythm section. Ben and Raffael are a great duo, lining out riffs that are as heavy as they are catchy, one right after the other. They’ve toned down the acoustic guitar quite a bit but more than make up for it with sublime Oriental melodies and raging solos that pulsate through out the aggressive overtones. The beauty and the beast style is still present with Raffael layering his harsh growling with Miri’s great singing voice. Some might find that the growling tries to do too much but for the most part sound great and make the music extremely heavy at some points. Drumming is tight as well, especially on “Flesh And Blood” which features some really cool tribal beats intertwining with double bass. Bass has played a great role on their newest album and fails to disappoint on Memorial either. Guy does a great job following the guitar with catchy bass lines, most notably on the single “Children Of Fail” and “Is It The Wind“.
Production is pretty solid for the album with a great emphasis shown to the vocals and guitars as well as the bass so I’m happy. All in all, Distorted managed to create an excellent metal album with solid instrumentation and vocal work with their debut. I don’t have many complaints with the album as Memorial boast’s plenty of solid tracks and displays much less of the nicks and nacks that Voices From Within did. It’s a shame that they couldn’t follow up with another stellar master piece. On Memorial, Distorted have created what the band is capable of and after 12 years of experience I hope the band remember not to rush things in the future. Fans of progressive metal, great female vocals, or those looking to hear something new should definitely give this a trial run on your computer, blasting in front of your girlfriend, or in your car.
Dunno why but I've been kind of tentative about listening to female fronted metal lately, must be the bad taste I get after listening to Arch Enemy's latest album, but I'll give this a shot. Nice work as usual.
The beauty and the beast style is still present with Raffael layering his harsh growling with Miri’s great singing voice.
The tandem that did it best was Tarja and Marco. Having the male vocals sing and gruff his way as good as the female is better than having these annoying growls that deteriorate the quality of the music. Case in point, Children of Fall off of here. Only song I've heard from them and nothing really special.
Agree with headcharge, fuck you poet, all you know i'm kidding. I completely disagree though, growling with female vocals is great, Draconian and most notably Tristania are prime examples. stop bein a pussy about harsh vocals and listen to Entombed and Repulsion.
Tristania does it best with three singers, baritone male vocals, another dude blackened growling, and Vibeke's beautiful operatic vocals. More than most modern gothic metal bands suck ass, with generic vocals, lame, crappy guitars that never get heavy or do something cool, but honestly, beauty and the beast in it's prime of early TOT, After Forever, Tristania, etc is really good, i'm more than suprised you don't like it considering what you listen to.
I listen to After Forever and quite enjoy them. The thing with this though, is I don't like the overall feel of the music with the vocals. It just sounds odd to me, though I have only heard one song. As for the moniker of Nightwish, nothing beats them honestly lol. I haven't heard much Tristania though. This Message Edited On 07.13.08
The Silent Force is great. Tristania, not sure they would appeal to you Poet but Beyond The Veil is their best album and much more intense, not as accessible as Nightwish. Listen to their excellent single from Ashes, listen to Equilibrium, the song, not the german folk metal band.
Only heard Angels...and it rules. My plan before summer began was to listen to nothing but bands in the realm of Nightwish, After Forever, Tristania, Within Temptation, etc. I got off track from that by seeing this amazing group called Celtic Thunder. I then just started listening to some stuff out of my comfort zone (maudlin of the Well, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Eternal Deformity) and I stayed with listening to Nightwish and Lost Horizon. I need to get back on track with this lol.
You really love the babe fronted metal bands Balls. Good review as always. One thing I noticed:
Progressive, Oriental female fronted metal done right. Those dissapointed with their newest album, I urge you check out right away.
I would probably change this to say Oriental 'folk' metal. I don't think there are many metal bands that have oriental singers that Distorted is competing with. Kind of an awkward summary. This Message Edited On 07.13.08