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Ephrat - No One's Words CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.63 | 90 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another force from the east to be reckoned with.

Well, well, what have we here? Hot on the trails of Amaseffer we have another band coming out of Israel, also signed to InsideOut. Expectations and parallels will no doubt be drawn right off the bat seeing this artist's country of origin, but it seems that this band is trying to break the mold. While many bands to emerge from the East come out with all of their cultural guns blazing, creating a very eastern sounding group of bands like the formerly mentioned Amaseffer, and the better known of the Israeli proggers, Orphaned Land, this band is trying something different. With one foot square in the middle of American influences like Tool and one foot in the middle of the UK with influences like Yes while still shouldering a tiny bit of that eastern fell, Ephrat comes off as a very difficult band to describe. Most commonly lines are drawn between this band and Porcupine Tree for their similarities in mixing modern alt-rock with prog-rock tenancies of old to make a new and unique blend, which is probably what made Steve Wilson himself sign on board as an adviser to the fledgling musicians and even mixed the album. The musicianship on this album is tight, and even though the band was assembled as kind of a ''rag-tag'' bunch they all seem to gel. The rhythm section chugs along well, and Omer proves himself worthy by playing his flutes, keyboards and guitars in an exceptional fashion.

Other guests make excellent appearances as well. Throughout the album you'll be treated to more than one voice, even if lead singer Lior Seeker does a fine job as it is with his semi-whiny (in a good way) voice that's more often used in a low-tone to add some ''creep'' factor to the album. That factor is brought up exponentially, however, when you add someone like Petronella Nettermalm (Paatos) to the mix, her voice bringing back memories of The Shining during her time spent on Haze, the echoing vocals ''Come play with me...'' boring their way into your soul. This song also features some excellent guitar work from Mr. Ephrat himself coming into the last couple minutes of the song when the guitar work simply gets faster and faster until it's fast enough to induce headbanging, and then the vocals come right back in to chill everything down. While this is one of the biggest standouts on the album, there's still better things to come. One of those things is the excellent, The Sum Of Damage Done, given voice by the Swedish innovator of modern progressive metal, Daniel Gildenglow (Pain Of Salvation), who uses the full range of tone and moods during the course of the song to make for another powerful piece.

Of course, the band gets along just fine on their own as well. This is proven right off the bat with The Show, a winding pseudo-epic which starts with an almost techno-groove before moving into smooth riffs which slow into the delivery of the vocals. Things pick up until near the end when everything slows back down to a crawl. The album never becomes too fast or too slow to become uninteresting, and this song is a good demonstration of how the band is able to manipulate speed to keep things dynamic. Blocked is the shortest song on the album, being the only one under 7-minutes, clocking at around five, and it's also the only instrumental. It's a fine piece which is not an extraordinary exercise in self-indulgence and guitar wank-off-ery, but instead a meditated journey with heavy tones which separates two equally heavy pieces, one of which is the slow-starting but ultimately heavy ass hell Better Than Anything, which shows Lior's voice at both its most creepy (''who would have thought I'd have to give you up...'') and at its pitch limit. Excellent riffs from Omer throughout keep things moving along as well as a nice eastern bit of instrumental section right in the middle of the track along with some more emotive parts from each band member.

Of course the centerpiece for the album really is the final track. Real may not be a contestant to take down the almighty Close To The Edge, but it's a fine exercise in modern heavy prog that exemplifies that these kinds of things can be tackled, and not just by Porcupine Tree. With fantastic melodies which make welcome recurrences and some truly moving sections, Real can be seen as the definitive Ephrat track at present. It would appear that they really wanted to prove this as well, not only in the amount of production that went into the song, but also in the fact that the superstar guests are absent from this track (with the exception of the mixer, Steve Wilson), meaning that the band showcases, ''hey, this is what we're capable of!'' This song is where everything clicks, and being that it's the most eclectic in terms of styles, it's also the biggest standout after repeated listens - there's even a short section which borders on what could be called Electronica, which somehow fits. Someone once questioned why reviewers tend to note the longest song as the standout tune in prog albums, well, this is why - the amount of effort put into them makes them truly memorable when well done.

This band has got feet under them, and are yet another Israeli band which ''needs to be watched''. This debut shows a group of passionate musicians brought to life by great production and memorable songs. Fans of heavy prog should definitely check out this album. They're no ''clone'' band to Porcupine Tree, but that's the audience that they're shooting for. 4 stars out of 5! Some people have called 2008 an infertile year for prog - those people don't know where to look.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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