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Subterranean Masquerade - Mountain Fever Award winner

Subterranean Masquerade
Mountain Fever
by Tommy Mulhern at 20 May 2021, 5:16 AM

Right. This is going to be easy. Album of the year contender right here and it's going to take something very special to take that crown off them. Stop reading now and go buy this album if you are a fan of light & dark Prog Rock like OPETHPORCUPINE TREE and AMORPHIS, mixed with the quirky unadulterated fun of SPOCKS BEARD’S “The Light", because even this comparison doesn’t do its ingenuity justice.
I had always really enjoyed SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE’S previous recordings, particularly “The Great Bazaar" but never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming.  In hindsight the signs were always present, nobody familiar with their back catalogue could doubt their musical abilities and inventiveness. Formed in 1997 in Israel, Subterranean Masquerade are by no means new to this. Generally regarded as a prog rock/ folk band they have set themselves apart by incorporating the sounds of their country along with other unique elements. They had a few line-up changes on the way and experimented with their core elements a lot but I think they will be pretty sure they have reached their ultimate goal with “Mountain Fever".

My favourite song of the album (after a dozen listens), is “Inward"; a sumptuous triumph cleverly sprinkled with the right amount of quirkiness and fun. On the sublimely inventive opener “Snake Charmer", i find it very easy to visual these guys playing live, supremely confident and talented and having fun in the energy of the crowd’s awe. “Diaspora, my love" is just simply a beautiful song. “Ascend" reminds me of their compatriots EPHRAT, while “For the Leader, with strings music" is like something off one of IHSAHN'S solo albums. Probably the strangest comparison is saved for “Ya Shema Evyonecha" as it wouldn’t seem out of place on one of FAITH NO MORE'S later albums.

“Mangata” is a great choice of song to end on and their video for it is definitely worth a watch. “Somewhere I sadly belong" and “The Stillnox Oratory" are probably the darkest in places on the album but add a lovely contrast to the exquisite lightness. The quality of the musicianship throughout is of the highest order, as is the production, and it is perfectly complemented by the outrageously talented Davidavi Dolev. Maybe it was his incredible range, both clean and harsh, that pulled the songs together, or that it gave extra license to the song writing, but either way it seems to be what has elevated this band to record this album.

It would seem strange to review this album without mentioning the main man Tomer Pink but I purposefully left that to last. I am incredibly grateful that this amazing songwriter has had the confidence in his vision to get to where this band is today, because until now I think they have been unfairly underrated. I sincerely believe and hope that “Mountain Fever" gets all the plaudits it most definitely deserves.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Snake Charmer
2. Diaspora, My Love
3. Mountain Fever
4. Inward
5. Somewhere I Sadly Belong
6. The Stillnox Oratory
7. Ascend
8. Ya Shema Evyonecha
9. For The Leader, With Strings Music
10. Mangata
Davidavi Dolev – Vocals
Tomer Pink – Guitar
Or Shalev – Guitar
Omer Fishbein – Guitar
Jonathan Amar – Drums
Shai Yallin – Keyboards
Golan Farhi – Bass
Record Label: Sensory Records


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Edited 07 February 2023

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