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Turbulence - Frontal CD (album) cover

FRONTAL

Turbulence

Progressive Metal


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5 stars "Frontal" is based on the true story of Phineas Gage, the construction worker who, against all odds, survived an accident which caused an iron rod to be driven completely through his head, destroying much of his left "frontal" lobe, leaving him forever physically and mentally changed. In fact is a concept album composed during the pandemic about how a stable life can be so vulnerable to unforeseen events that can alter us so deep into our core that we become unrecognizable by those we love. There are moments of pain, moments of despair, moments of confusion and anger and reminiscence. These very real emotions helped this band create a canvas portraying human fragility as well as human triumph. They accomplished that musically by relying on rhythmic illusions and polyrhythms juxtaposed with somber melodies, a melting pot of crunching synths, soaring vocals, complex drumming, and a never ending stream of riff carnage that fuses jazz virtuosity with prog metal tension. The Dream Theater and Haken progressive metal inspirations are sharply recognizable but customized and evolved to achieve their bright musical essence. The result is a great album truly enjoyable from the beginning to the end passing through great guitar riffs with excellent solos (the Alain Ibrahim solo in the track "Faceless Man" deserve a standing ovation) , helped by brilliant keyboard of Mahmoud Yassin, bright vocal refrains ( Omar el Hage's voice reminds me of Daniel Gildenlow) , solid drums ( drummer Sayed Gereige is always incisive in the underscores of moments with more pathos resumable in the final track "Perpetuity") and eclectic bass riffs ( the bass player Anthony Atwe in "A Place I Go To Hide" shows off his excellent technique) Best Tracks : Madness unforeseen; Faceless Man ; A place to go to hide; Crowbar Case....in fact all the album.... A STAR IS BORN 9/10
Report this review (#2526545)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars I stumbled across this album by Lebanese band Turbulence the other day while browsing the list of 2021 releases so far and was pleasantly surprised! It seems to have flown under the radar so far, but I hope prog-metal affectionados will give it a listen because it's surprisingly good.

Most prog-metal bands these days are just bad clones of Dream Theater which somehow miss what made DT good in the first place, and while DT are clearly an influence on these guys - a quick look guitarist Alain Ibrahim's Instagram page shows him wearing DT merch and playing Petrucci's signature guitar - there's also a great blend of Haken and various other inspirations thrown in for good measure. I'm terrible at reviewing albums (hence why I never normally bother), so I won't go through a track-by-track list, but there is a wonderful mixture of loud and quiet moments, glorious, well-constructed guitar solos with some very tricky passages, and a great vocal delivery. The mix is also pretty good, which can sometimes be the downfall of some smaller bands.

As someone who always keeps an eye out for new prog-metal releases but is usually disappointed, this is IMO the best genre album since last year's Virus by Haken, and one of the best for the last several years, which has seen few quality releases. Check it out!

Report this review (#2531795)
Posted Sunday, April 4, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars The international cauldron of progressive metal talent is boiling over with hardly a way of containing the spillover. Young and head-numbingly talented progressive metal acts are emerging in nearly every corner of globe making it nearly impossible for even the most dedicated fans and critics to keep tabs on all of it and to identify the truly inspired and stand out emerging acts. As I've remarked in the passed, despite their talents, the bulk of these groups are mere Dream Theater clones or dry djent lords. Upon identifying these standout acts, we must do our best to cherish them and promote them in any way we can.

Lebanon's Turbulence is one of these stand-out groups worthy of our attention and broader recognition in the prog metal world. Co-founding member and lead guitarist Alain Ibrahim enjoyed a brief moment of internet fame in early 2020 when he managed to successfully cover Jared Dine's annual shred collab video within just four days, a feat not lost on Jared and his community. Earlier in the decade, Alain and his keyboardist friend Mood Yassin pulled together a band of fellow Lebanese prog and metal enthusiasts and began composing and recording music that draws from the absolute best that classic and modern progressive metal has to offer. Frontal, the band's debut LP, is the culmination of of the last half decade of effort.

It is hard to believe that Frontalis a debut record given the level of maturity and subtle sophistication in this music. Every element on the record is woven together so that the music is never overly reliant on one a single band member. The talent of these musicians is clearly limitless and yet they have the sophistication to curb their abilities for the sake of the songcraft. Despite breaching the hour-long mark, nearly the entire album is listenable.

The record's sole weakness is the extent to which the music beholden to its influences. Make no mistake, Frontal is better than just about anything release by Dream Theater in the last 10 years and at least as good as anything by Tesseract or other modern clean prog metal acts. But it also fails to truly set itself apart from its predecessors. However, with musicians this gifted and songwriting this inspired, I do not doubt that Turbulence has a perfect 5 waiting in their future.

Report this review (#2581988)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Ever since Myrath put the Arabic speaking Middle East and Northern Africa on the map as a hotspot for metal music, many a band has sprung forth to join the rest of the world in the music magic that this distorted and obnoxious genre of music has offered. Calibre, Chopstick Suicide, Coast of Arms, Creative Waste, Kimaera, Mortem Atra, New Carnis, Phenomy, Scarab and Smouldering In Forgotten may not be household names like Judas Priest or Metallica but yet the legion of metal musicians continues to grow worldwide even in places where most Westerners could possibly imagine. Africa and Western Asia are no exceptions.

TURBULENCE is one such band that has emerged from Lebanon, all the way back in 2013 in fact. The debut "Disequilibrium" was released in 2015 and didn't quite make the grade for garnering international attention but with the band's 2021 sophomore album FRONTAL, this Middle Eastern metal band has finally garnered the attention it deserves as one of the best up and coming talents from a region of the world that is woefully too often associated with dystopia and despair. Unfortunately the 24/7 news cycle of gloom and doom forgets that people wake up every day and live their lives and some even thrive in the face of adversity.

OMG the world of progressive metal has come a LOOOONG ass way since Watchtower showcased the technical possibilities of the metal universe all the way back in the 1980s. Of course it took Dream Theater in the 1990s to put the world of progressive metal on the map and there has been no shortage of imitators and innovators of this style of prog rock meets heavy metal ever since. In that regard TURBULENCE is just one of countless such bands that has followed in the footsteps of its predecessors but while prog metal bands are hardly uncommon, a band that finds its own sound without getting too weird and far out certainly is rarer indeed.

Once music expands in complexity, the phylogenic tree of nearest relatives is somewhat useful at least in terms of conveying where exactly a band is coming from when written in a form of review. TURBULENCE is very much of the "old school" prog metal ilk with progressive rock compositional styles meeting the more energetic delivers of Dream Theater, Haken, Circus Maximus, Pain of Salvation, early Leprous, Threshold, Seventh Wonder, Shadow Gallery and i could go on and on and on. Stylistically TURBULENCE falls in between and amongst this long list of prog metal warriors but somewhere in the mix has found a unique style of its own at least for those who can distinguish between the subtleties beyond within the somewhat pigeon-holed prog metal subgenre that basically exists within the context of Dream Theater.

OK, reinventing the wheel is not TURBULENCE's forte but don't let that shy you away. FRONTAL is a beast of an album that is passionately delivered and fortified with excellent musicianship that keeps my interest in its entirety despite the rather steep near 66 minutes of playing time. What you can expect here is a multitude of proggy instrumental workouts, excellent compositional fortitude and amazingly passionate vocals from frontman Omar El Hage. You can also expect loads of heavy guitar riffing, prog keyboard workouts, bass and drum rhythmic dynamism and a stellar production job. There's not much to dislike on FRONTAL however the originality factor could be turned up a few notches. Despite not being following int he footsteps of many prog metal band that came before, this is really an interesting blend of influences and one that is quite enjoyable!

Prog metal needs to be more defined these days. This is trad prog metal, you know the kind with CLEAN vocals, traditional progressive rock sort of compositional style and nothing too adventurous for those who worship the ground Dream Theater walks upon. This is not OMG avant-garde in the least. I used to punish artists for lack of originality but sometimes a given artist can actually perform the task better than those who originally initiated it and therefore there's no reason to rate an album for anything other than enjoyability and competence. As far as TURBULENCE's second album FRONTAL is concerned, this is a very beautiful construct of traditional prog metal indeed. Looking forward to what comes next.

Report this review (#2608246)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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