Soul Enema - 2017 - Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

(72:57; Soul Enema)

Track list:
1. Omon Ra 7:02
2. Cannibalissimo Ltd. 5:59
3. Spymania 6:44
4. Breaking the Waves 5:17
5. The Age of Cosmic Baboon 4:33
6. In Bed With an Enemy 5:58
7. Last Days of Rome 4:22
8. Dear Bollock (Was a Sensitive Man) 3:10
9. Aral Sea I. Feeding Hand 8:47
10. Aral Sea II. Dustbin of History 5:30
11. Aral Sea III. Epilogue 6:25
12. Octopus Song 2:54
13. Eternal Child 5:35
14. Of Clans and Clones and Clowns 0:41

Noa Gruman - vocals
Yoel Genin - guitars
Constantin Glantz - keyboards, programming, vocals, shamisen, percussion
Michael Rosenfeld - bass, sitar, violin
Dor Levin - drums
Arjen Lucassen - guitars
Yossi Sassi - bouzoukitara
Sergey Kalugin - acoustic guitar
Yuri Ruslanov - flute
Vladimir Migutin – flute
Gennady Birenberg – vocals
Lior Ozeri – bass
Michael Glantz - voice

Israeli band Soul Enema started out back in 2001 or thereabouts, and is one of those bands that develop their craft in a slow and steady manner. They released their debut album "Thin Ice Crawling" back in 2010, and following this it would take the band seven years before they had a new album ready. The name of that second album is "Of Clans and Clones and Clowns", and was self released in 2017.

Soul Enema as they come across in 2017 is a band that makes use of a whole lot of different elements in their music, but the most common denominator throughout this production is progressive metal. Hence this is also the best manner in which to describe this production, a creation that is as colourful as the cover art is unusual.

The most striking element on this production, at least as experienced by someone living in the western hemisphere, is the liberal use of world music elements throughout. At some point I do believe I heard some klezmer details in here, but folk music elements with a clear foundation in the region of the world where the band is situated is an ongoing feature on this production. Sometimes explored in a more purebred manner, but also as elements added to the more energetic sections as well as in all the other style variations the band have to offer.

Tight and often elegant sections of progressive metal is a mainstay of course, most often with a guitar driven variety of classic era progressive metal but occasionally also with keyboard support. We do get some flirts with extreme metal along the way too, dark and bombastic moments of ominous dramaturgy that fits straight into the landscapes explored here. These latter moments are just about the only ones not containing world music elements too.

Elsewhere elegant and wandering piano sections that often have a bit of a musical touch to them is a recurring feature, and more theatrical and dramatic displays in a few different variations is a feature. More atmospheric laden progressive rock is included too, with one song being a just about purebred example of this, and we also get a tongue-in-cheek excursion into a world music meets progressive metal landscape. In between and as a part of everything else we also get some subtle details here and there where it appears that the band has a little bit of a flirt with jazz going on. That we have vibrant and powerful lead vocals and backing vocals with moments of theatrical delivery and a tendency to be both expressive and slightly eccentric probably merits a mention too.

It takes a steady hand to assemble everything this band wants to incorporate into material that comes off as sounding well developed, cohesive and logical, with quality songwriting skills as a core requirement to be able to achieve this in the first hand. And this is a case where all of those elements are present, and with a high quality mix and production as the icing of the cake in that context. The end result is striking, and often quite impressive.

Soul Enema as of 2017 is a band that manage to be playful, creative and expressive in the manner that they explore a combination of world music and progressive metal, and that they opt to broaden the palette used to incorporate elements from a handful of additional styles and manages to pull this off successfully is a testament to a band with a very well developed skill set in the writing and performance department both. An excellent album to seek out by those with a taste for progressive metal made with a vibrant spirit and a colourful approach and execution.

Olav "Progmessor" Björnsen, February 2023



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