Review Summary: Over-the-top, and very, very, fun
This reviewer went into his first listen of Mountain Fever
blind, with the only clues of what to expect being Subterranean Masquerade’s genre tags on sputnikmusic.com, and the vibrant album artwork with its almost confusing amount of eye-catching elements. Both clues were helpful, but if anything the artwork provides a better hint of the music presented here. Mountain Fever
is a grandiose work pulling from many sources, one that feels like it’s about to go off the rails many times, but rarely does. The end result is an ambitious prog release which ends up being remarkably satisfying and enjoyable.
Subterranean Masquerade is Israel-based group, with primary songwriter Tomer Pink drawing on his connections within that country’s metal scene to fill out the ranks of the musicians featured on this LP. Pink’s countryman Davidavi Dolev is the lead vocalist, with members of Orphaned Land and Melechesh also making appearances.
Opener “Snake Charmer” doesn’t really do justice to the scope of what the rest of the album will unveil. It’s a great track, but fairly standard-issue contemporary prog. Its successor, “Diaspora My Love” marks the first sign of more grandiose stylings, beginning as a mellow ballad before progressing to an ending segment featuring the album’s first appearance of harsh vocals (which will be used regularly but sparingly throughout the remainder). Things really take a turn with the third song, the album’s title track, with its epically-inclined prog rock/metal guitar work intertwining with folk motifs. Later on, “Somewhere I Sadly Belong” may be the most intriguing of all, with an interplay between extreme metal vocals and recurring female gospel-esque singing, which works far better than one may expect. The album’s second half doesn’t let up either, with “Ya Shema Evyonecha” being a traditional Hebrew tune getting a wild prog metal revamp, and “For The Leader, With Strings Music” summoning the spirit of Opeth’s prime era in the best way. After all this, the relative restraint of closer “Mangata”, despite some great guitar work, might feel like a bit of a letdown, even though it’s a great song taken on its own terms.
isn’t a record one can easily pigeonhole into genre categories. Subterranean Masquerade are undoubtedly pursuing a vision here which falls broadly into the prog rock/metal spectrum, However, Israeli (and more broadly, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern) folk influences are felt heavily in both the album’s instrumentation and melodies. Beyond that, psychedelic flourishes and extreme metal tinges abound throughout. As such, this is a LP with potential to appeal to a wide range of listeners with differing tastes.
There’s something that feels simply “alive” about Mountain Fever
, a sense of enthusiasm which manifests itself both in the ambition of the varied influences which are merged here and in the energetic nature of the music. Subterranean Masquerade have gone big, and while they don’t pull it off in every instance, the results are both over-the-top, and very, very fun. As such, and given the genre flexibility of the release, this is an album which can be whole-heartedly recommended to a wide variety of music fans.