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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Barness brothers started Sanhedrin in 1998 with other musical partners as a Camel cover band. The group, however, began writing their own material. Here we are presented with their debut album, an instrumental release with 8 compositions. The album features an iconic Israeli musician, Shem-Tov Levi, on the flute. Mr. Levi is a singer, flutist and pianist as well as a composer and arranger. He has released a variety of albums as well as working with various Israeli musicians and singers. Of interest here, is that he was a member of Tuned Tone (with Yitzhak Klepter and Shlomo Yidov), Ktsat Acheret (A Little Different) and Sheshet, all progressive bands or related. But I digress...

Back to Sanhedrin's album, while classic sounding instrumental prog rock is the order of the day, the band introduces some folk elements on some of the tunes, like Dark Age (which is dedicated to Arik Hayat, of Sympozion, who committed suicide in December 2008). But overall, the band has trademarks of Prog greats like Camel (cool guitar licks), Pink Floyd (gorgeous majestic keyboards and guitar solos) and Genesis (grandiose sound and epic writing), but with a modern sound. To my ears, their music sits nicely among bands such as Oaksenham and Ciccada (their labelmates, who do have vocals on some of their tunes). Their songs have lovely and (mostly) cheerful melodies, with an expansive sound; they are well arranged and developed from the main theme and so provide for a varied and interesting listen. It does take several listens to be able to absorb it all and distinguish all the different pieces.

The music is beautiful and full of life, and while energetic and dynamic it contains an inner peace, a calm core that permeates throughout the tracks on this album. Not to say that the music doesn't get exciting or engaging, just that it conveys a sense of tranquility and serenity, a sort of cool composure that emanates from each note and the entire lineup. Listen for instance to the guitar solos on Il Tredici, or the flute almost anywhere else on the album and you'll get the idea. Speaking of the musicians' performance, subtleness and meticulous playing is to be found, nothing ever gets out of hand, everything feels under control and tamed. Each musician gets their spotlight and allowed to express themselves, and yet no one seems to "take advantage" of it wildly and outshine the rest; there is balance in the music as there is in the playing. For me personally, I particularly love Aviv Barness' keyboards work as it gives the band's sound a punchy and rougher edge as well as a majestic one. Shem Tov Levi's flute is renowned in Israel and his playing here doesn't disappoint (particularly on Sobriety). Gadi Ben-Elisha's guitar work is efficient and tasteful (in particular the David Gilmour like solo on Timepiece).

Perhaps this tameness is a point o raise, as there is no real sense of letting go on the album, no moment where wild energy is let loose, save few moments (such as on Steam, Timepiece, Sobriety and The Guillotine); the pace doesn't shift much, though the intensity does. The piece that contradicts all this is the sublime closing piece Steam, which has a propulsive rhythm and a fantastic melody line in two parts, the first made up of the flute and keyboards and the second part lead by the guitar. This is the only track on which raw energy is released and that the guitar gets raunchy and dirty. I'd love to hear more of this side of Sanhedrin, alongside what they play on the rest of the album. But overall, that is a minor point to me. The song writing and musicianship are more than enough to provide for an excellent listening. A gorgeous album by a very promising group.

Report this review (#442619)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another gem from Fading Records, the sublabel of Altrock Records. How do they do it ?

Sanhedrin is from Israel and I refer you to the interview with them in the interview section for more informations. Sanhedrin started out as a Camel copycat, but they have branched out on this, their debut album.

Camel is still a start off point and reference on this album. But their vintage sound borrows a lot from the Rock Progressivo Italiano sound, the British symph prog sound (Camel, Nice, Genesis) and the Eclectic Prog sound (Gentle Giant). The music is vintage keyboards, guitars and flute dominated with strong support from bass and drums.

I am normally not a fan of instrumental music like this. But the music on this album really bowls me over. The music has a lot of darkness and melancholy as the bass. On the top of that, light is added and some really good tunes. This is an album you can both meditate/float away to and to listen carefully to. Even though the tempo is really laidback, the music still have some really intricate details and twists. It also has this 1970s feeling which is just wonderful.

In short, this is really a great album well worth checking out. A sure four star album in my books. I really hope Sanhedrin will follow up this album with more albums.

4 stars

Report this review (#448164)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Amazing instrumental progressive work from this israeli band. I´ve been hearing this CD for a few days almost non stop and I can say it´s one of the most interesting things I´ve found lately. I read the story of the band here on PA and it spurred my curiosity imediatly. Specially the part that says they were a Camel cover group for some time (for further information about their history see Avestin´s detailed review). Since Camel is one of my favorite bands ever, I was naturally drawn to this group. However, if you´re expecting to find a Camel copycat you´ll be disappointed. Sanhedrin does have some hints of that british prog band in some parts of their sound, but although the band is yet to have a distinctive sound, they also avoided to sound too much like anyone else.

In fact, some parts do remind more of classic Pink Floyd than Camel, with several Gilmour-like guitar leads and Richard Wright-ish organ runs. Flutist Shem-Tov Levi (who seems to be a very popular musician in his country, although I had never heard of him before) adds a lot of Jethro Tull ambiences too. I can identify even a little of the famous Eloy signature lines on a few occasions. So the band has a lot of good influences, but I can assure anyone who´s interested that their songwriting is very strong: all of the 8 tracks recorded for Ever After are at least very good, with more than a few excellent moments poping out throughout the CD. The ones I like the most are the most melodic ones like the opener Overture and on Il Tredici. There are heavier parts too, that echoed a bit like John Wetton era King Crimson, but those are less succesful. Production is crystaline, one of the best I´ve heard in an instrumental group.

In all I found this CD to be very enjoyable and refreshing. I needed a few spins to really get it, but boy, when it does is it good!! I really hope those guys keep delivering this kind of music in the near future, for this one is more than just a promise. It´s a fine addiction to any prog lover collection. If you like the aforementioned influences, go for it! Highly recommended!!!

Report this review (#451872)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although it's inspired by CAMEL, it's not CAMEL music. Sanhedrin have their own folk background, with a calm, almost blues-less background. It's more Middle-Eastern, perhaps, than the original british group. This album, as a whole, works very well. There are two main reasons for this: first, is the excellent flute work by Shem Tov Levi, one of Israel's premier jazz-rock flute players. Second, it's Udi Koomran's top-notch musical production and mastering. The compositions are very melodic, and they don't always progress in a linear fashion. Sanhedrin guys like to develop somethings, then toss it aside and start something else. This takes them closer to Anglagard terrain, although they're not as dramatic or melancholic. I would recommend this album to anyone who like flute-prog, mellow prog and CAMEL-related bands. The disc has great overall sound, and you really can't complain. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece, and it's not innovative stuff - but it works. 3.5 stars, but I'll give them 4 because of the melodic beauty.
Report this review (#472299)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Ever After' - Sanhedrin (8/10)

Quite a charming piece of prog, this. Although instrumental prog bands come a dime a hundred these days it seems, there really are few that I would bother checking out, much less return to for repeated listening. Perhaps its just the formula's fairly cold dynamic of exercising performance abilities and erudite composition over emotion, but I have never managed to enjoy many of these acts. Thankfully, I was able to give Sanhedrin the time they needed to grow on me, and for me to realize that they have more going on to them than the usual play-hard instrumental groups I am used to finding. This is a group from Israel that started off as a tribute act to the classic UK band Camel, but have since evolved to writing their own material. While the roots in Camel are plainly evident on this, their debut record 'Ever After', the sound that this band creates is intelligent, inventive, and full of ideas that grow with time. While my preconceived fatigue with the style held me against the album at first, new listens to the album over the course of this afternoon have led me to see what a gem Sanhedrin have made here.

Sanhedrin are a new band, but the sound they make is rooted deeply in alot of classic symphonic prog acts. Adding a dash of jazz fusion to the sound, Sanhedrin is vintage, but fresh, and I would rarely say that about a band who looks to the past so much for their inspiration. Besides the obvious main influence in Camel, I am also hearing alot of Jethro Tull here, specifically in the prevalent flute work of Shem-Tov Levi. Solos are generally alternated between the flutist and guitarist, and the rhythm is beefed up with rich organs and fusion-based drumwork. Upon my first listen to this album, the first thing that is readily evident are the band's skills as individual musicians, and overall tightness as a group. Although the actual hooks and quality of the composition are a little less immediately evident, there are many times here when the band pulls off some very slick passages, each starting and stopping in an organic unison.

The state of the band being an instrumental act is something that may turn off some, although they are not necessarily held back by the lack of a vocalist. On this note though, Sanhedrin's music could easily integrate a vocalist into it. Unlike so many instrumental prog bands, there is not always someone noodling around with leads, the strongest aspects of Sanhedrin are when they are adhering to their songwriting. There are a fair amount of solos throughout 'Ever After' though, most notably led by the flute. The first half of this album is dominated by flute solos, and gives it a strong feeling of Jethro Tull. The latter half of the album gets more moderate from this, and although while Levi is a great flutist, the seemingly incessant flute work in parts can ultimately feel more like a ramble. This is only a small gripe I had with the record, and some listening to this record may not even see it as an issue at all.

'Ever After' is certainly an excellent album by all accounts, and I might even say that it has opened me up a little more to the instrumental brand of prog rock. After all, prog has never been about adhering to notions of popular music, and Sanhedrin seem very content here to do their own thing, all the while paying homage to the greats that got them into prog in the first place. An exceptional debut album.

Report this review (#538229)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An excellent album I saw appear on PA but was unable to hear until I discovered Progstreaming--What a great find that site is!! Sanhedrin has been a great listen--all insturmental, which I like, but not boring or predictable, and with great engineering and production. I love the flute-led melodies, but the entire ensemble is awesome. At times they veer close to cheezy jazz, but the layers, shifts, and sounds keep them on the side of prog. Not CAMEL, as mentioned above, but . . . there are moments . . . Still, a great infusion of fresh music. Highly recommended!
Report this review (#552401)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Here is another example of being inspired by previous PA reviews, aiming at discovering new unknown talent that will rock my prog world. Sanhedrin are from Israel, which may seem strange and exotic but unlike Osiris from Bahrain (!!!!) , this is not really a surprise as any visitor to the Holy Land will attest , the country being an odd mixture of very new and very old. I fondly remember listening to Israeli radio back in the early 80s when there on holiday and it was a very progressive set list. These musicians are absolutely first rate and have put together a sensational all-instrumental album that reeks originality though some will claim (quite lamely) that this is a Camel inspired opus. Well there are camels in the nearby Negev desert but all comparisons to the Andy Latimer crew are based on the mellow flute, lyrical lead guitar, basic rhythm section and frequent organ-synth interventions. The Barness brothers also started out as a Camel cover band. Upon repeated listens, the differences become clearer, the all-instrumental compositions provide a denser kind of symphonic prog , with liberal dashes of flute, sax, bassoon and English horn. Gadi Ben Elisha is a guitarist that has learned his Latimer chops well but not quite as Gilmouresque as you would expect, tossing in slivers of Hackett, Akkerman and Fripp. My first initial spins met with little overt reaction until I decided to ratchet up the volume button and pay attention to the beauty and intricacy of the music. I have been playing it in the car while plowing through snowstorms (searching for the nearest oasis!!!) and it has become a massive favorite. Whilst some reviewers have stated that it's a tad too quiet, I have detected numerous passages that rage convincingly, giving this recording a lot more depth and panorama than originally believed. The concise "Ouverture" sets the tone right from the get go and is a enchanting piece that grows with recurring auditions, looping synth runs conjuring images of galloping dromedaries, windswept mirages and moonmad guitars. Swirling flutes add to the charm. The crew wastes no time in pioneering their master opus (you can listen to on PA's sample tracks) , the redolent and atmospheric "Il Tredici" (the 13), where Ben Elisha's sizzling fretboard carves out some deadly melodies with clashing restraint and passion, aided by Aviv Barness' floating keys. Brother Sagi, drummer Igal Baram and Shem-Tov Levi on flute provide the added padding. At the 5 minute mark, the mood gets hard and furious with a memorable organ interlude married to a spectacular lead guitar solo, starting out pastoral and serene, morphing into the flute led main melody, one of aching beauty (the choir-mellotron backing is awesome) and then exploding into a paroxysm of guitar heaven, aided by braying horses and assorted other effects. "Dark Age" is an outright medieval piece, closer to Vital Duo, Lindh-Johansson or Motis, reminding us where the Crusades occurred (yup, the Holy Land!), the various instruments reeling fast and furious, flute-led into the Middle eastern raindances, layered by church organ motifs and spiraling guitar excursions, rolling bass maneuvers and deft drumming. The finale of this tremendous track gets hot and heavy, Frippian guitar riffs colliding with swirling sandstorm keys. Next up, a little history tour to the French Revolution with "The Guillotine", a somber piece recalling the instrument of terror used by Robespierre and the Commune to behead any resistance to their "virtues", the pace is anguished with organ and guitar both wielding the pain and the blood, the flute fluttering airs of deliverance and hope, while the rhythm section bashes away unmolested. This is harder edged than anything Camel has ever done, almost veering into space ?prog with some fab soloing. It remains a typical classic sympho-prog piece when the bassoon kicks in (such a gorgeous and underused instrument). "Timepiece" suggests a rollicking mechanical pace that plows on undeterred, suddenly shifting into a pastoral mode (darn flute again!) first and then a more reflective romp that seizes your audio jugular , getting heavier before exploding into this massive slide guitar excursion that would make Gilmour proud, screeching, bellowing and raging proudly.

"Sobriety" is an 8 minute+ treat, a secure highlight on this set list, with dancing flutes, rippling mandolins, heady organs all conspiring to form an orchestral piece dominated by another explosive electric guitar melody, bossy organ shoves and marshalling drums. The tone here is spacey, dreamy, reflective and masterful. Classic symphonic prog, performed with ease and dedication. Levi's flute recalls Thijs Van Leer's quietest moments which generates this Focus circa Hamburger Concerto feel. When the sax enters the scene , you know you are in prog heaven. Tantalizing piece of music.

The delicate "Tema" is just a minute of acoustic guitar bliss, setting the stage for the final cut, the aptly named "Steam". This is another up tempo piece that rumbles along convincingly, deft drum work propelling this 9.5 minute epic piece, again reminding us of a Focus feel , guitars , organs and flute ablaze in fiery communion. A spacey mid-section only adds to the pleasure, church organ leading the fire. A gentle piano intervention is dazzling in its simplicity. The finale is a guitar excursion that will flip your baseball lid. The production, the atmosphere and musical talent displayed are above average. Not a weak track or filler to be found hidden under the sand.

This is a definite no-nonsense grower, a undisputable 2011 masterpiece and I thank my PA colleagues for subjugating me with their recommendation. I look forward to their next release with bated breath.

5 shabbat shaloms

Report this review (#591074)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It comes as absolutely no surprise to me to learn that Sanhedrin kicked off their career as a Camel cover band, because this sole album from them so far (please, tell me they have more planned!) is an absolutely fantastic example of the sort of mellow, tranquil progressive rock Camel were known for in their heyday. The band also enjoy the benefits of having Shem-Tov Levi performing on this album on flute - Levi, who prog listeners might be aware was in Israeli Canterbury/fusion outfit Sheshet, adds just the right textures to these beautiful compositions. With brilliant performances from all involved, Ever After is a true gem, and leaves me hoping to hear more from the Barness brothers and their colleagues.
Report this review (#930348)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good news for Camel fans: the band still makes music, and how! However, don't look in the shops under the name "Camel", try this one: Sanhedrin. No, not the death metal Sanhedrin from England (what an unlucky choice for the name of a metal band, really!), but the Israelian progressive rock one. This former Camel cover band issues a debut album finally, with their own, and fabulous instrumental music, still in Camel style, just like that fantastic band used to be in good old seventies, only production is even better!!

For the younger prog adepts, let me try to offer you some more famous references. Think of Pink Floyd and early Genesis - during Peter Gabriel years, but slightly softer - less intensive or passionate, if you wish. Gazpacho and Anglagard come also quite close in the neighbourhood. You will find here lots of analogical electronics, a flute, sax, mostly softly sounding guitar, a melodic bass, and not too aggressive percussions. The melodies are beautiful, a little contemplative. One song can easily contain lots of rhythm and melody changes, but without too much counterpoints and stress.

There are only a few moments which just slightly deviate from that description, a little away from the soft symphonic rock, to the Jethro Tull sound, with a flute leading the tune, some acoustic instruments and a kind of medieval composition structure and sound. The short acoustic guitar piece "Tema" is damn beautiful, it could be easily penned by one of the two Steves ? Hackett or Howe - in their best years.

The band, formed in 1998 around brothers Barness, names also King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator as their influences. It may be quite so, but don't look for it inside this album. Genesis and Pink Floyd ? surely, since it most probably might also have been an influence for Camel's Andrew Latimer. Well thought, perfectly played, fantastically produced, "Ever After", released in February 2011, could be one of the best Camel albums ever.

Let me also give you some information about the name of the band, just for information. "Sanhedrin" means Synedrion in Latin. It was the Jewish religious council back in ancient times. Think of the Bible, The Pharisees and the judgment of J.C. After I discovered the meaning of the word, I understood, that it will take at least little time for me to get used to it.

The album is instrumental, but it is a concept. It is not really made clear, what concept is used here. One of the songs is named "The Guillotine". Is it a reference to Napoleon who tried, for one reason or another, to revive the Sanhedrin in the beginning of the 19th century in France? It is of course, quite possible, that the concept of the album has nothing to do with the name of the band. After all, the legendary Genesis didn't write music about the creation of the world too.

Here is my first and very concise interpretation for you: "ll Tredici" means the 13th in Italian. It is the 13th Century, that is why it is followed by "Dark Age", and then by "The Guillotine", and in the end by "Steam", the age of steam of course. So, it is a historical concept: from the dark ages to the age of steam. Inside this concept, there must be some story, that you probably will have to invent yourself.

I hope, you will find a story of your own here, while enjoying the music, which is in any case really great!

Report this review (#1506244)
Posted Sunday, January 3, 2016 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I did read about this band in the PA forum. In a thread soembody was asking about bands "similar to CAMEL" and this name popped up.

It took me a lot of time to get a copy of this album because the band seems to have disappeared after releasing this little masterpiece. No bandcamp, facebook or any other internet resource other than progarchives. Luckily, it's still available from the FADING RECORDS label which is a sub-label of AltRock productions.

Now the album: it's very reminding to CAMEL, but it has some substantial differences: first of all is not as guitar dominated as Latimer's band, there's a bigger use of flute and a lot of keyboards. If we want to compare it to a specific period of CAMEL, we are closer to the first two albums.

I have noticed that almost all the tracks have odd signatures, mainly 5/4, but even if there are jazzy moments in the vein of Rain Dances, it has elements which are not very often present in Camel's discography. This is original material, close to CAMEL as much as Hogarth's Marillion can be close to Genesis: there is an imprinting, but it's not a clone band.

Saying what's the best track is not easy: I really like the whole album in all its various moments. Each track has its "reason". The Guillotine, Il Tredici, Steam are excellent tracks. A mention goes to the medieval folk of "Dark Age" which reminds to Angelo BRANDUARDI and BLACKMORE'S NIGHT, just to say that it's not only Camel. It suddenly tunrs into a dark atmosphere with Canterbury elements and some passages of the kind that wouldn't be a surprise in an ART ZOYD album.

Another mention is deserved by the short classical guitar piece entitled "Tema", the second track other than "Il Tredici" with an Italian title. Closer to Steve HACKETT than to Latimer.

This album is at the same level of many CAMEL albums, surely better than some of their inspirer's releases. If one is undecided between "The Single Factor" and "Even After", I'd surely say, "go for the second!".

It's really a pity that this band is disappeared. The more original parts, I mean the less "Camelistic" are showing a lot of good musical ideas and excellent skills. For all the (prog) tastes.

Report this review (#1709840)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars According to Merriam-Webster, Sanhedrin is the supreme council and tribunal of the Jews during postexilic times headed by a High Priest and having religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction. That's the sort of all encompassing portfolio that can raise hackles, and indeed this instrumental band is all over the map, with CAMEL, FOCUS, and KING CRIMSON being among the classic acts they might cite as influences. They also appear to owe some debt to jazz and fusion. The primary instrumentation is organ, electric guitar, and flute, with bass also offering melodic counterpoint. The passages alternate from reflective to chaotic. While these attributes might shout CAMEL from the temple tops, that band's compositions tended to be rather tight and with an underlying theme on which the members would expound, while SANHENDRIN seems more interested in going with the flow and seeing where they end up. As such, "Ever After" appeals to me as a collection of sonic ventures that are offered up with precision and skill, but they don't appear to begin, end, or transition between beginning and end with any authority. The Levine tribunal council has passed judgement - 3 stars for the journey
Report this review (#1841049)
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 | Review Permalink

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