Review Summary: Overload’s sophomoric release sees the band delve into traditional rock fusion territory compared to its more experimental instrumental fusion debut. The results are equally good.Overload
was formed in 2003 by drummer, and now vocalist, Farhad Humayun and keyboardist/primary songwriter Sheraz Siddiq. The band has seen numerous lineup changes but the aforementioned duo has been the backbone of the band throughout its existence.
The band has always been more experimental in nature than the majority of more recognized Pakistani bands. The debut album displayed that very well with the music being mostly instrumental and dominated by percussions, psychedelic overtones, and dynamic song structures. A few of these elements have been retained; however there are a considerable number of changes. The major of these were the inclusion of guitarist Mahmood Rahman and vocalist Meesha Shafi as permanent members. The new members added a whole new dynamic to the music, with the songwriting being much more within the boundaries of rock/fusion than instrumental/percussive fusion.
Although the guitar is more prominent than it was on the previous album, this is by no means a traditional rock album. Guitars are not the driving force behind the music, but are used to add quite a bit of flavor to the foundation of the songs established around the rhythm section and keyboards. They are added in almost the perfect dosage, with there being just a few occasions where a little more of their presence would have been welcome. There are plenty of tasty melodies and lead playing on offer. The diverse delicious guitar tones only add to the sumptuousness of the music. The story is very similar for the vocals. Meesha has a good range but what makes her vocals so memorable are her power and timbre. She isn’t on every song, but her strong presence on the ones she is on makes her a valuable addition to the lineup.
The range of music styles explored, as well as they way they’re mixed so effortlessly, is what makes this album such a refreshing listen. Blues, funk, electronic, percussive, rock, and other genres are delved into during the near 42 minute journey. In addition to the diversity of the music, the instrumentation and non uniform song structures are what give the album its experimental feel. Traditional Pakistani instruments are present on a number of songs including the tablas and the dhol. While the clarinet is featured on the haunting instrumental “50 years”. There is a really good balance between aggressive sections and mellower parts, with a number of songs possessing both characteristics in an interchanging fashion. The overall mood of the album is definitely positive, with the emotions being conveyed with a lot of character.
The most important aspect though that causes this album to succeed is the fact that every element is included only to achieve the main objective, which is to create quality music. Each instrument is given a chance to shine, without encroaching over another. This is what the band ensures throughout the record, and to very good effect. Additionally there is a healthy experimentation with tones, whether it is the bass/synth bass, keyboard, or guitar. The production is very good, but could have been slightly better to add more richness overall.
(witch) is a worthy successor to the debut album and shows that the band is not afraid to change its style to keep the music interesting, which is what this album has achieved very effectively.