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Mavara - Ultimate Sound CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.25 | 5 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
2 stars Iran is one of the last places on the planet someone would expect a Western influenced progressive rock band to emerge from but that's exactly what happened when composer / keyboardist Farhood Ghadiri formed MAVARA in 2001. The band name translates from Persian into "Beyond Everything You Think," which is an excellent attitude for someone residing in one of the world's largest theocracies. The band has had a rather rotating lineup over its history and has performed extensively in Tehran and the neighboring city of Karaj from where the band started.

Having been the first truly progressive rock band in all of Iran, MAVARA found they attracted attention rather quickly and received acclaim from the Tehran Industry and Science University as "Best Rock Band at a Live Performance," an accolade that was carried on to an internet music festival called "Teheran Avenue" in 2003 and 2005. While the band has resided in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the US after gaining work visas to tour the US and now records their albums in the English language, on this first album ULTIMATE SOUND despite having an English title was all recorded in the Persian language.

The band has been compared to Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd and Dream Theater but in reality doesn't sound like any other band that i have heard despite the obvious influences from all of the above. While the MAVARA's albums all have different overall themes and sounds, this debut album is characterized by a rather pop infused run of melodic tracks that range in complexity and duration ranging from near 4 minutes to near 8. ULTIMATE SOUND finds eight solid musicians, Ashkan Hamedi (vocals), Farhood Ghadiri (synths), Anis Oveissi (keyboards, piano), Arash Radan (guitars), Sina khodaieefar (bass) and Milad Gazizade (drums) all working in tandem to create crossover symphonic prog sound.

Tracks are generally on the mellow side but some tracks such as "I Am Human" crank out some serious metal riffs. Like the album title, many of the track titles are also in English but the lyrics are exclusively sung in Persian which is an interesting development for sure. For a Persian band, MAVARA must have been a breath of fresh air in a nation that had never experienced the great prog boom of the 70s and MAVARA do an excellent job at constructing a new sound that fits in with their surroundings but ultimately the album doesn't come off as very original despite it not really sounding like anything else. Likewise i find Ashkan Hamedi's vocals to be a bit lackluster as everything sounds like it's too safe.

Coming into this i was really hoping to find a prog band that incorporated local ethnic flavors into their music much like other Central Asian prog bands have done but MAVARA seems like it's trying to hard to separate itself from its homeland as best it can. While some tracks are nicely constructed, there are too many such as the bland "You And I" that are fairly generic with weak grooves, bland melodies and less than stellar instrumental performances. This album runs at over 60 minutes and is far too long. While the band does a decent job of emulating the space rock and neo-prog ethics of the West, at this point it hadn't really found a way to make it sound interesting.

siLLy puPPy | 2/5 |


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