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Distorted Harmony

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4 stars If I'd tell you "Utopia" is the best progressive metal album to ever come from Israel, it wouldn't mean much. But it is, and it's also very well produced and played. Yoav Efron's project has all the right elements in place: great riffs, great melodies, great arrangements, great structures.

Distorted Harmony's godfathers are Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation. But DH don't try to imitate this two great bands. The vocalist Misha Soukhinin has his own personality. The music of DH is gentler and more orchestrated than DT's, and not as funky and dramatic as POS's. Fans of Symphony-X's classic work will find this album pretty attracitve.

The best track on this album is the title track, "Utopia". The pessimistic lyrics work fine, and the singer really tears his heart out on this one. Although it's a debut album, it sounds like a very mature band. There's not a weak moment - all the tracks are well thought-out, upgraded to a commercial level. No fills, no drones, no time wasting, no boring parts, no "skip this" minutes. It's all written carefully, with the right mix and state-of-the-art mastering work.

For the international market, albums like "Utopia" can be easily missed - there is so much new music out there, and so little time to absord it all. However, the fact is that this is a free download, so there's no accessibility dilemma. It's one of the best free downloads I've heard in the last 5 years, not just in the progmetal realm. Most free albums are amateurish, but this one sounds like it's on the same league as Symphony-X, Transatlantic, The Flower Kings and Riverside.

I gave it 4 stars because there wasn't a 3.5 stars option. The fact that it's free to download plays in its favor. Who buys real CD's today, anyway? there's no room in the house for this stuff anymore.

One last note about the English accent of the soloist: it's not bad at all. It might fool Europeans, but not the British or the American listeners. Anyway, I should sum this review up with the following words: this album is great fun for anybody who likes clean progressive metal, without the "black"/"negative" metal attitude. I've enjoyed it for a long time.

Report this review (#786520)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been told that the best things in life are free - and I didn't realize they were talking about this album until I heard it. Distorted Harmony are a Progressive Metal band from Israel, and Utopia is their debut album which can be downloaded on the band's website for free, and you may make a donation on the same website if you like.

Musically, this band is an enigma - their style obviously pulls from many different influences, and it's very difficult to nail down anything specific. But I will give it a shot - their music is symphonic, I might even say cinematic, sometimes heavy and complex in the Progressive Metal vein, mixed with a Classic Symphonic Prog sound, and often sounds very influenced by American alternative rock. There are many lush atmospheres created with the mixture of orchestra and piano, and these often transition effortlessly into an intricate pattern with electric, heavier sounds of guitar and synths playing quick-tempo, tricky passages with changing rhythm schemes. The band never gets stuck in one sound, but is constantly shifting and showing they have a palette that has many colors. The production is pristine, the instrumentalists show great skill and mastery of their instruments, and the vocals are beautiful - at times the vocalist reminded me of Chris Martin from Coldplay. Perhaps the greatest thing about this album is its crossover appeal - I believe it would appeal to fans of both Progressive Metal and lighter, more classic sounding Prog. As I listened to each song on this album I kept thinking to myself "how is it possible that something so wonderful is free?"

In conclusion, this album has it all - complex, flowing compositions that artfully weave a tale for the audience, instrumental wizardry, electric and symphonic soundscapes, great vocals, and good production. It is nothing short of a masterpiece, and easily one of the best albums of the year.

Originally written for

Report this review (#786635)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Utopia' - Distorted Harmony (9/10)

Listening to Distorted Harmony's debut, I'm reminded of an album I heard back in 2010. I've long held the belief that the heyday of progressive metal was back whenever Dream Theater were at their creative peak. Although almost every style of music out there takes after its flagship artists in one way or another, I found that far too many bands sought to copy without adding their own flair. Of course, your typical Dream Theater, or Symphony X clone will be armed to the brim with technical skill, but it was the emotional element that was sorely missing. In 2010, it was Haken's "Aquarius" that opened my eyes to the 'current' prog metal scene's potential. "Utopia"s blend of heartfelt melodies, warm performance, and razor- sharp compositions instantly places Distorted Harmony on the prog metal map, alongside the other promising newcomers.

Though there were some infamous exceptions, I think the majority of prog metallers found themselves impressed and even touched by Haken's "Aquarius"; it stuck within Dream Theater's style, yet managed to create something fresh with it. I don't mean to keep comparing Distorted Harmony with Haken, but I really do get the same impression from them. In spite of being Distorted Harmony's first complete offering, they have already fully realized their sound in several respects. I would not be out of place calling Distorted Harmony a 'symphonic' progressive metal band; although they do not make a complete leap into orchestral territory, there is usually a rich symphonic arrangement backing up the band. Although this element of Distorted Harmony's sound is programmed, it does not sound cheap or dull. In fact, listeners will be surprised to hear what a fantastic production Distorted Harmony have this first time around, although when it's been mastered by the almighty Jens Bogren, that's usually a sign of good things.

Distorted Harmony cite bands like Dream Theater, Opeth, and Symphony X as influences, and the styles of those bands are most certainly engrained in "Utopia". I might add Pain of Salvation to that list. Although Dream Theater's frantic, technical, oftimes quirky approach resonates most with Distorted Harmony, they are not so much a clone as they are taking that familiar style and going their own way with it. Most notably, "Utopia" is an incredibly melodic album, and I don't mean in the bland AOR sense either. The album is filled with trademark instrumental prog metal passages, but Distorted Harmony set themselves apart most by combining melodic elements with prog so seamlessly. Misha Soukhinin is a perfect vocalist for this style; capable of a wide range, and able to capture a rich feeling at any pitch.

Perhaps listeners will find Distorted Harmony too close in sound to Dream Theater, but repeated listens demonstrate how well these guys are able to fuse their influences into one glorious whole. I may be tempted to call it the "Aquarius" of 2012, in that "Utopia" is a surprise-out-of-nowhere prog metal debut. In truth however, they have taken this worn-and- weary style and done something that's very much their own; rich, beautiful and proggy as hell. What's even better; they're offering it for free download on their website!

Report this review (#794622)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of these albums

I have been taken completely by surprise with Distorted Harmony's ''Utopia''. It is one of these rare cases when a new band comes up with a mature sound and debut album, effectively filtering a very broad range of influences and also adding their personal character to produce something far from the "acceptable" and "typical".

The fact that the six tracks in ''Utopia'' are of 9+ minutes average duration proves the nerve and the ''effrontery'' of the quintet and the effort pays off. Within the 54 minutes of the album, Distorted Harmony present us their own view of how modern progressive metal should sound like: a weighted balance of technical prowess and emotional depth, without fear of borrowing from other aspects of progressive music (call it crossover, mainstream, symphonic etc). At the same time, references to Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Sieges Even but also Muse and Porcupine Tree are evident. The vocals of Misha Soukhinin might estrange a few as too "natural", but they fit perfectly with the earthly feeling that comes out of the album.

The production is clear, the sound of the instruments balanced, the musicianship admirable. Although I find myself enjoying the first half of the album more, there are no weak tracks. My favourite moments are "Obsession" and the title track, the former because of the pure dynamism and the latter because it sums up all the attributes and moods of the record, an effort that "flirts" with, and mostly achieves perfection.

Is it time to seek for your own (melodic) Utopia?

Report this review (#796234)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Distorted Harmony's "Utopia"is a prog metal band from Tel Aviv, Israel with Misha Soukhinin on vocals, Guy Landau plays guitars, Yoav Efron on keyboards, Iggy Cohen plays bass and Yogev Gabay is on drums. The songs have a distinct metal edge with distorted riffing guitars but there is also a relaxed vocal style, in English and without growling, but more of a reflective approach. It blazes on the opener 'Kono Yume', right from the outset with distortion firing and a melodic keyboard line. The choruses are memorable and I have to mention the structure that is reminiscent of prog metal such as Dream Theater or Threshold with lengthy passage of extended keyboard and guitar soloing trade offs. The percussion of Gabay is at times played at a frenetic double kick breakneck speed. I like how it develops with a mellotron and piano generating a serene scape at the end.

'Breathe' opens acoustically, a beautiful sound and is joined by Efron's wafting gentle keyboards. There is a tricky time sig with an outburst of metal and then a lilting piano motif, with Soukhinin's soft vocals reminding me of Muse. This melody really grew on me after many listens, especially the line "inside the shame there's a world coming back for me, a world coming back." There is a beauty enmeshed in the melody and singing but also it features some aggressive guitar riffs when the tempo speeds up. The sig changes many times and then Landau's lead guitar screams over the incessant riff, joined by keyboard wizardry. Again the Dream Theater influence is evident, and the musicianship is exceptional. The mellotron and flute synth is wonderful.

'Obsession' is a 9 minute prog blitz opening with droning low synths and then a chunky metal riff crashes through on an odd meter. Relaxing vocals follow a dreamy melody, leading to the raucous chorus where metal distortion dominates. Some of the language is more explicit and the lyrics reflect angst and the anger of not being able to cope as things become too much; the vocals even get more aggressive deep in to the song. The instrumental break is a cauldron of angular guitar riffing, fast keyboard runs, and a relentless bass and drum rhythm. Easily one of the highlights musically, with prog time sig changes and complexity.

'Blue' starts as a piano melody, intense vocals, and locks into a steady rhythm. It features an extended keyboard solo and overall is melodic with some explosive riffing merging with violin string orchestrations. The ending is played at a frantic pace, with dynamic lead guitar fret melting playing, screaming over the vocals that rejoin.

'Unfair' is blessed with guest musician Daniel Markovich's soaring saxophone playing. After the sax intro a distorted jagged riff cranks up. The rhythms are fractured with some remarkable time sigs, and the feel is like Dream Theater. The storm of distortion and fast playing is extraordinary, joined by polyphonic keyboard runs and an everpresent bass pulse. One of the highlights of the album with outstanding virtuoso musicianship.

'Utopia' is the longest track at 12:30, opening with urgent synth lines and a melodic vocal performance; "I walk on roads as red as blood, with bricks of greed and hate, while men are going wrong and right, making their own fate." The metal riff becomes fragmented, and after a while an instrumental break stops the metal in its tracks. We hear an acoustic resonance, and some profound narratives about war and making weapons, "is this our utopia?" The tensions are subtle, releasing various musicians to take over and then holding back enough to let the music breathe. It is never overblown or pretentious due to the sincerity of blending metal riffs with swathes of keyboard finesse. The choppy metal begins to get more powerful and keyboard swells chime in. The lead break is incredible, sliding and swooping guitars pouncing upon plunging keyboard sweeps, creating a sense of intense abandonment in this utopian wasteland. The gorgeous mellotron strings generate the melancholy atmosphere, and are juxtaposed with more broken metal rhythms. It is one of the most dynamic tracks from Distorted Harmony.

The album is a great blend of metal and ambiance, with guitar riffing and the splendour of keyboard swathes. I could recommend "Utopia" to those who like their prog metal served up with melodic singing and a plethora of keyboard solos. Check out Distorted Harmony and discover some excellent modern prog metal; dominant lyrics, clear passionate vocals, melodic choruses and outbreaks of blazing metal riffing guitars.

Report this review (#818557)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Surprising Israeli Band

Despite not being a fan of Prog Metal, couldn't resist the temptation to listen Utopia by DISTORTED HARMONY due to the positive reviews that compared them with SYMPHONY X (one of the few bands of this genre that I really love), and also following the recommendation of my good friend Raya Kosovsky who always introduces me to good music. From the first song I was gladly impressed, being that DISTORTED HARMONY is one of the few Prog Metal groups that always gives priority to a good melody before endless and pointless soloing, and that's what I always search in a band.

The album is opened by Koyo Kume and the interesting piano intro by Yoav Efron, a passage that doesn't prepare the listener for the display of power and musicality to follow, strong guitar sections and very good vocals by Misha Soukhinin. Honestly, didn't expected this kind of musical material that blends with good taste and skills the musicality of Symphonic Prog a with the power of Heavy Metal....What great start.

The second song Breathe begins with a beautiful acoustic guitar soon enhanced by the keyboards, combining delicacy and strength, but after a minute the band attack us with a heavy section followed by an uncommon (for a Metal band) melodic vocal passage full of radical changes. Breathe reminds me of PAIN OF SALVATION, but with more mystery and drama.

Obsession is a bit different than the previous songs, being that after an extremely heavy intro they seem to enter into Alternative/Indie territory, of course with the usual musical blasts and a hint of PORCUPINE TREE, not my favorite style, but some variation is always good in an album.

Unfair is probably the most vibrant and frenetic song of the album, yes it's Metal, and it's well known I'm not a fan of this genre, but the track is really interesting, not only because of the killer guitar, strong vocals and outstanding organ in the vein of Jon Lord, but also because of the impressive drumming of Yogev Gabay and the precise bass performance of Iggy Cohen, in other words??..they captured me.

The album is closed by the versatile 12 minutes Utopia, that I won't pretend to describe, because of the extreme versatility and mixture of sounds that the band offers us, beginning with a Classical influenced intro that soon morphs into Heavy Metal softened by some surprising acoustic guitar passages, will only say that it has everything that a Proghead expects.

As I said before, it's uncommon for me to listen Prog Metal, but luckily I made an exception, being that DISTORTED HARMONY recorded one of the best albums I heard this year, so I will rate it with 4 solid stars (that would be 4.5 if the system allowed us to grant half stars), but will also be waiting impatiently their next release, because I'm sure that these guys are able to offer us something even better.

Report this review (#819633)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars It was since Second Life Syndrome that I wasn't hit by a prog-metal album in this way, and if we think that it's a debut album and that I had this "Utopia" from the Israeli "Distorted Harmony" as a free download, this means that this band has a big future in front of it and the value for money of this album leads to a "divide by zero exception".

The opener "Kono Yume" is enough. It has excellent keys and guitar solos. It has melodic symphonic moments and it has very powerful metal and a classical influenced coda. Then it's followed by a song started by acoustic guitar and keyboards. A symphonic intro followed by a heavy bass which introduces a powerful metal section. Riverside and Pain of Salvation are the bands which come to mind, but this is Distorted Harmony: the sung part has Crimsonian dissonances and very frequent changes and the keyboard solo which preceeds the symphonic section of "Breathe" sounds skillful like the Artension of Vitalij Kuprij.

The album proceeds with "Obsession" which is my favorite song here. The initial "slow" part sounds Crimsonian again, also the vocalist reminds sometimes Greg Lake (which is one of my all time favorite singers). The transition to the metal part is slight and I think again to Riverside with the addition of a very fast keyboardist like Kuprij. It's a fantastic song. After the key solo there's a symphonic transition which brings us back to the "melodic" section. Melodic but dark and powerful.

"Blue" is a fantastic metal track with nothing to envy to the big names. Also this song at a certain point slows down for a while crossing the border with the symphonic prog, but the metal parts are where the band is able to better capture the listener. Another five stars song with a stupendous final.

Piano again and strings for "Unfair". This track has a folk flavor well mixed into the metal base. Fans of the genre will surely fall into this sonic web. This is the only track on which the oriental element seems to emerge from behind. It's similar to what can be heard in some System of a Down songs (btw it's a band that I love and I think Tankian alone is prog enough for this site, but I'm going off topic). Not that the prog elements are sinking: the fretless bass short solo introduces another exciting symphonic metal part. Well, symphonic metal is a subgenre that I have invented just now..... It's another fantastic track on which keyboards and guitar alternate their exciting riffs and with an excellent melodic base, too.

Finally the title track. The intro has a classical mood. It could also be a piece of classical music that I don't know. After one minute the guitar makes clear to everybody that this is metal, but if I try to imagine how this guitar would sound without distortion I see Steve Howe. Nothing to do with the YES, anyway. The band is of course closer to Dream Theater than to classic prog, but those songs have a lot inside. The acoustic passages can be found in many other metal songs, but this could be even Roger Waters with the acoustic guitar behind a speech. This long song is structured as an epic. I think nobody would be concerned if I call it a "short epic". The last 2 symphonic minutes are a perfect closure for this excellent album.

As usual, when I review prog metal I'm used to give high ratings. It's because I'm not a prog metal fan, and if I review an album of this kind is because it's particularly good for me. This is the case. As I have done years ago with Second Life Syndrome I'm going to rate this album as a masterpiece: the prog-metal album of the year for me.

Enjoy it.

Report this review (#822381)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Israeli band DISTORTED HARMONY was formed back in 2009 by composer and keyboardist Yoav Efron when he started working with drummer Yogev Gabay, the remaining members of the band joining the ranks between then and 2011. "Utopia" is their debut album, initially released as a free digital album in the spring of 2012, then later self-released on CD.

Classic Dream Theater style progressive metal with a fair bit of diversity thrown in for good measure is what Distorted Harmony provides on their debut album "Utopia", up to and including a fair few gentler passages that in style and tone gives me a strong association towards Sylvan, especially in the vocal passages and perhaps mostly due to the superb lead vocals of Misha Soukhinin. A solid debut album by a talented and very promising band, well worth checking out by fans of Dream Theater school progressive metal, and in particular those amongst them who also know and love bands like Sylvan, obviously.

Report this review (#829042)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars People have argued about how the internet affects the music industry for well over a decade now, and although I'm sure these debates will persist for decades more, there is one clear way in which music benefits from the world wide web - distribution. Take Distorted Harmony, for example; a group of virtuous progressive metal musicians from Israel that has had the opportunity to share their art with the world through the means of online distribution. Released in May, 2012 for free on their SoundCloud page, Utopia is the sort of album that I'd expect from established progressive metal veterans - stunning compositions, incredibly high levels of musicianship, and flawless execution make this one of the best albums I've heard this year. Much like Haken did just a couple of years ago with the masterpiece that was Aquarius, Distorted Harmony have entered the scene with a stunning observation that deserves to be heard by every fan of the genre.

Though Utopia's finest asset is in its strikingly dynamic compositions, one of Distorted Harmony's greatest strengths is their ability to stay within the confines of 'traditional' progressive metal while still coming across as fresh and unique. The strong vocal melodies, frequent use of polyrhythmic syncopation, and symphonic tendencies bring Pain of Salvation to mind, and the technical acrobatics will probably remind most listeners of Dream Theater - while this may not sound like too unique of a formula, heavy and modern sounding riffs, frequent deviations into traditional symphonic prog, and alternative-sounding melodies add an additional layer of freshness to Distorted Harmony's core sound. Whilst one could potentially argue that Utopia does sound stylistically similar to many other observations in the genre, Distorted Harmony has put a stamp on the album that is distinctly theirs. And, at the end of the day, what really matters most is the music - and that is where Distorted Harmony makes one hell of an impression.

Utopia consists of six songs, clocking anywhere from seven to twelve-and-a-half minutes apiece, and although the tracks are certainly on the 'longer' side, Distorted Harmony does not indulge in any drawn-out shredfests or sprawling epics. The band focuses much more on powerful, compact compositions, which I think suits them very well. Utopia doesn't have a weak moment in sight; every section is captivating, every transition is smooth, and every song leaves an impression that will last for quite some time even after the listener has given the album a rest. Everything from the grandiose orchestrations in 'Kono Yume' to the climatic ending in 'Utopia' just reeks of sheer perfection, and even after enjoying the album for nearly half a year, I'm still nowhere near finished with this slice of heaven.

For better or worse, Utopia is the sort of release that only comes around once in a blue moon - albums this perfect just don't roll around frequently enough, especially for debut offerings. Utopia is just one of those releases that always manages to challenge my mind, pull my heartstrings, and lift my mood regardless of the circumstances - even after hearing this dozens of time, I'm still shocked by some of the intricacies used by Distorted Harmony. It will take a damn good album to dethrone this one from 'album of the year' for me, and even if that were to happen, Utopia will still stand as one of the best progressive metal albums I have ever heard. Well done, gentlemen!

Report this review (#840229)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Progressive metal is a genre that has been done time and time (and time) again (and again), so when a band comes out with a fresh outlook on a fairly overdone sound, it's always a breath of fresh air. In the case of the new Israeli band Distorted Harmony, no new territory has been broached, but the band mixes styles from the genre in such a way that it seems as though they have created an entirely new brand of the music. The band's debut, Utopia, has a slew of prog metal stylings, each which distinguish the six tracks in a fresh, enjoyable way.

The first song, "Kono Yume," immediately makes the listener think they're in for 50 minutes of a Symphony X copy-cat band. The virtuoso orchestral instrumental runs, crushing riffs backing them, and the overall atmosphere led to me this conclusion on my first listen. As the song progresses, however, the listener can quite clearly see that Symphony X is not all that this band has going for them.

It's pretty amazing that even though the band has only existed as a complete lineup for about a year or two, their debut album is incredibly clean, mature, and professional, showing every nuance the band could have possibly wanted in there. Every identifiable influence, from their bits of Symphony X, Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, and even OSI are mixed in there, as well as a plethora of unique and other eclectic sounds. The entire album is an experience of excellence; few modern progressive metal albums, especially from new bands, capture the scope of sonic variety that "Utopia" conquers with ease.

The balance of melodic and metallic moments really shined for me on this album. The transition from a swath of heavy riffing and intense instrumentals to either a gentler vocal section or just quieter instrumentation is carried out beautiful, and it gives that prog metal dynamic that fans crave perfectly. This balanced, with the excellent musicianship across the board mesh together to make a wonderful prog metal atmosphere. Each track has excellent continuity in musical theme and flows wonderfully, giving the illusion of a continuous track of delicious prog metal. The musical excellence, combined with a powerful and well-thought out concept about finding how to live in a modern society, easily makes this one of the better prog metal albums of the year.

The album, overall, is an excellent showing of how a young band can rival even the greats of their genre. While the music was not all incredibly unique, I had a great time listening to the album. It is certainly one of those albums that will be remembered as an incredibly strong debut; there have been a few bands in the past few years who simply took the scene by storm with incredibly strong debut albums, and Distorted Harmony will most certainly be one of those bands. I look forward to hearing more from this incredibly promising new band in the future. 4+ stars.

Report this review (#841000)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album was quite a surprise. I'm not usually so taken with prog metal bands, but these guys transcend the genre by using a generous dose of great symphonic prog.

Oddly enough, the album reminds me of the Universal Studios theme park ride "The Curse Of The Mummy". On this attraction, the riders are lulled into a false sense of complacency when the vehicle they are in rolls lazily through animated scenes of the inside of a pyramid. Then suddenly, all hell breaks loose, the car drops backwards onto a track, the the riders are propelled though a high speed roller coaster ride. At various points, the ride appears to be over, only to have the room burst into flames, followed by another coaster segment.

Well that's the feeling I get by this up and cvoming Israeli band. The album begins with a keyboard intro, and grand symphonic prog, which lulls you into the belief that this is going to be a work of fine symph prog. But suddenly the sound turns to metal. But this is not the cliched metal that tends to bore me away from multiple listens. This is highly progressive metal, with plenty of rhythmic twists and turns, and tonal oddities. At times I hear passages that make me think they are playing a stereotypical metal riff, but every time they jar the stereotype away with some astounding changes.

The entire album is a wonderful trip in this sense. Back and forth they travel between metal and symphonic prog, and all with virtuoso precision.

While I enjoy the entire album, I'd have to say my favorite track is Blue, which reminds me very much of one of my favorite heavy prog bands, Altered State.

This has to be one of the top ten album of this year.

Report this review (#843806)
Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Listening to this album has been a mixed bag: I enjoy the symphonic and jazz elements of this tremendously but am not an avid fan of heavy prog. Still, this is, to my ears, very good progresssive rock--the vocals being the weakest element of the music, the keyboards being the strongest. While not quite up there with Tool's Lateralus, Karnivool's Sound Awake, Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet, and Riverside's Second Life Syndrome; it is on a par with Sylvan's Posthumous Silence, Gösta Berlings Saga's Detta Har Hänt , Rishloo's Feathergun, and Von Hertzen Brothers' Love Remains the Same.

Favorite songs: "Kono Yume" (8:41) (9/10); "Obsession" (9:12) (8/10), and; "Utopia" (12:31) (8/10).

Report this review (#863991)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, this is one of my favorite of 2012. It starts with a Rick Wakeman quality keyboard intro, and then gets heavy.

The changes from heavy metal to clean melodic piano is superb. Then the vocal comes in and reminds me of Greg Lake. For this style of music in this day and age, to hear a crisp, clean pitch perfect vocal is refreshing. Excellent and awesome! Now for a review of the tracks:

1. Kono Yume - I love this track. It sounds like Genesis in a lot of ways. I get plesantly lost in it.

2. Breathe - It starts with a beautiful melody folding into a great heavy progressive metal sound, but not overdone. It then moves to a solid progressive rock movement transitioning into a melodic piano / vocal that is captivating and then back again. It is reminiscent of Genesis "Trick of the Tail", but does not sound like a cheesy copy or stale remake. They are clearly in step with contemporary progressive rock as they create new material that can be appreciated by multiple generations. The musicianship on this track is incredible, with time signature changes, complicates riffs, and complex synth runs.

3. Obsession - The third track starts with a very modern Gent sound that then starts to integrate a Dream Theater feel. It is not a new concept, but integrates a a wider variety of newer and older sounds and influences from bands such as BTBAM, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, ELP, Dream Theateer and Genesis. There is also a Crack the Sky Feel to this song, but most of you will not who that is unless you are very broad minded prog fans.

4. Blue - This track starts with a march that folds into some really driving prog-metal movements. This song develops into some fine progressive metal. There are elements of solid progressive rock here with grand symphonic movements sounding like Yes and Porcupine tree at moments. This song is truly a masterpiece.

5. Unfair - A nice jazz introduction moves into some great symphonic elements that are simply mind blowing. This song progresses into a very energetic and complete track. The guitars are awesome and the keys are both complimentary and bombastic at times. The organ at the end of the track is memorable.

6. Utopia - This track starts with a little piece that sounds like it is being played through an old radio. It sounds like something from another time period, but then breaks into a very strong heavy (but not metal) movement. The next section has almost a ballet quality. The music transitions into a "Dream Theater" style progression with actually seem a little out of place for how the record started. Somehow it works itself out and concludes satisfactorily. The second half of the track has a lot of changes, including heavy moments and pretty guitar parts as well. It also has fully integrated keyboard with lead guitar elements intertwined into one which is what really gets me off.

This is definitely one of my favorite records of the year; however I will say that the composition is lacking a sense of continuity. For a debut, this is awesome. The music is awesome, the musicianship is awesome, and the composition is good and the recording is fair. Overall this is a great record especially for a debut release. I give it 4.5 rounded up to a 5.

Report this review (#880602)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Eeeeeh, alright, I guess I can just about give Distorted Harmony's debut album a thumbs-up for those who really, really can't get enough of this sort of thing. This progressive metal tour de force is an intriguingly gentle ride which incorporates plenty of quieter, more acoustic moments - to the point where the band are at risk of drifting away from metal altogether - but on balance there are enough twists and turns to keep a range of listeners happy. That said, I think it could do with a little more editorial trimming here and there, with some sections mildly outstaying their welcome - in particular, the bit where lead vocalist Misha Soukhinin goess off on a spoken word tangent in which he presents a simplistic and not especially interesting or original political philosophy tries my patience every time I listen to the album. Like I said: I'll give it the thumbs-up, but it only just slipped under the wire.
Report this review (#926098)
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Utopia" is the debut full-length studio album by Israeli, Tel Aviv based progressive metal act Distorted Harmony. The album was originally released in May 2012 as a free download on the band´s Bandcamp page, but saw a CD release in July 2012.

The 5-piece act play a very dynamic and well written progressive metal style. The keyboards are quite dominant in the soundscape, but there are still plenty of room for heavy distorted guitar riffs and pounding rythms ((and thankfully no sirupy ballads to disrupt the flow of the album. Yes I´m looking at you Dream Theater). As mentioned this is very dynamic music though, so there are both more mellow and atmospheric parts on the album too. The musicianship is generally excellent but to my ears it´s lead vocalist Misha Soukhinin that stands out the most. He has a strong, personal and emotional/melancholic delivery that´s not typical for a vocalist in a progressive metal act. Actually his voice and singing style remind me quite a bit of Jan H. Ohme from the Norwegian alternative/progressive rock act Gazpacho. Besides that influence I´d mention acts like Dream Theater and Riverside among the influences.

The tracks feature adventurous and complex structures, tempo- and time signature changes and technical playing but there is always great focus on catchy hooks. To my ears it´s that balance between technical playing and emotional delivery that makes "Utopia" such a strong release. The sound production is powerful, detailed and well sounding. Pretty impressive considering that this is a 100% self-financed release. So overall "Utopia" is an album with very few flaws and a lot of positive qualities. A 4 star (80%) rating is more than deserved.

Report this review (#929281)
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Distorted Harmony is a young band from Israel with their debut released in 2012 named Utopia. Well, what we have here, a type of prog metal that is very appreciated in last years and I mean, fat bass lines, crunchy drums, nice guitar chops, flowing keybords and only an ok voice - did I like it? -well, yes, is not a groundbreaking album to my ears but worth to be investigated if you like prog metal. Taken influences from Symphony X, Dream Theater, Circus Maximus - Distorted harmony manage to come with a pleasent, enjoyble full of complex instrumental sections, definatly the musicins really know to handle the instruments. What bothers me is the voice of Misha Soukhinin, while is ok, in comparation with the music, the vocal lines are almost flat, not particulary strong range this guy has and for that reason drags a little bit the overall sound. If were more anger in the voice but keeping the clean voice of course maybe then I'll give a higher rate. But as I said the instrumental parts are very strong like on Blue or the title track Utopia, really nice musicianship with skillful arrangements, the duels between guitars and keyboards are awesome. All in all 3.5 stars for this debute, a fairly good prog metal album but not among the strongest I've heared lately. The album can be bought in digital format from their bandcamp page for only 1$, imagine that, so don't hesitate to have it worth it for prog metal fans, also the CD format is available from their web page.

Report this review (#1048280)
Posted Monday, September 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars From the very beginning of the first song, Kono Yume, I somehow knew that I was going to love this album... A beautiful intricate piano line opens up the album and then gives way to a very heavy, crushing guitar riff, backed by thundering drums, before a searing guitar lead scorches your face with blazing speed.

And that's just the first two minutes of the song!

I'm always looking for new, exciting prog metal bands, and most of the time when I think I've found something, I either wind up being disappointed or I'll be excited about it for a week or two before putting the album away and not listening to it ever again. I'm not going to lie and say that I've listened to this album every day since it came out, or even every week - not even every month - but I do wind up coming back to it every so often and remembering why I have such a positive connection with it; the album is just good.

Distorted Harmony is an extremely melodic band; the keyboards and guitars tell stories in pretty much every lengthy song. What's impressive to me is that they have combined this fantastic sense of melody with some really heavy, technically impressive moments. Utopia is a very nice blend of harmony, melody, and heaviness, and vocally it's solid all the way through.

To me, the standout tracks of the entire album are Breathe, Obsession, and Utopia. Breathe begins with beautiful acoustic guitars before interchanging between a really dark, heavy riff and some nice, relaxing soft moments. Obsession will remind you of Pain of Salvation back when they were an upper echelon prog metal band. Utopia's instrumental intro is one of the better aggressive heavy metal sections I've heard so far this decade. By the time you get halfway through the song you begin reflecting on the lyrics "No one dares to protest..." and then they give you a quiet interlude to continue reflecting before waking you up with a killer instrumental section again. The song (and album) end on a beautiful, emotional ride lead by a great keyboard melody and excellently-delivered vocals.

I think lyrics are often a forgotten art in progressive metal. Everyone is impressed by great musicianship or vocals, so often lyrics are an afterthought. This album has solid lyrics all the way through, but the title track in particular is powerful, especially when considering the region from which the band hails.

If you, like me, are looking for exciting new prog metal bands, this one is worth checking out.

Report this review (#1322315)
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2014 | Review Permalink

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