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Dynamic, energetic, emotional, diverse & appealing - 80%

TrooperOfSteel, November 18th, 2012

Heavy metal music spans the entire world - From its origins in England to the massive influx from the United States, down under in Australia and also South America, in Asia and the sub-continent and lastly the huge hub that is Europe. Almost every country in the world has a love for metal; however one of those countries where you wouldn’t expect to see too many metal bands getting around is the sacred land of Israel. Dark power/traditional metal band Desert is one such band originating from Israel, and was created in 2002 by guitarist Max Shafranski. While there has been quite a few changes to the line up over the past 9 years (6 former members), the current line up joining Max includes keyboardist Oleg Aryutkin, guitarist Sergei Nemichenister, bassist Sergei Dmitrik, drummer Zohar Telor and vocalist Alexei Raymar.

After a demo and an EP released in 2005 and 2006 respectively, Desert were signed by Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records and their full-length debut release was finally under away. Produced by Nick Savio (Cyber Cross, ex-White Skull) in Italy, then mixed and mastered by Andy La Rocque (King Diamond, X-World/5) at Sonic Train studios in Sweden, ‘Star Of Deluded Hopes’ was released in January 2011. Desert are labelled as power metal, but after spinning the disc a number of times, it would be an insult to the band’s song-writing techniques to consider them to be just power metal. There are a fair few different metal genres the band delves into, including dark metal, traditional metal and also a touch of progressive metal.

Heavily guitar and keyboard driven, the sound takes on a bombastic and rhythmic approach, both creative and intricate; that proves to be one of the factors in the CDs success. Singer Alexei has an intriguing and vast range of vocal styles and delivery that almost makes you think there could be another singer within the band. Alexei sings in mainly 3 different forms (all with a thick eastern European accent) that create both aggression and somberness; while delivering in a fashion that sounds quite epic and theatrical. The different vocal styles Alexei uses sounds like a combination of Michael Seifert (Rebellion), Kenneth Brastad (Ashes to Ashes), Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell) and also Joakim Broden (Sabaton), who incidentally makes a guest appearance on the CD.

The 9 tracks on the disc are all of a slower-paced nature but still creative enough to pack a punch, the band utilising other metal genres and forging them together to make for an interesting and unique experience. The main highlight of ‘Star Of Deluded Hopes’ is the collaboration between Alexei and Sabaton’s Joakim Broden on the scorching track “Lament For Soldiers Glory (Order 227)”. Starting softly with just a piano in the background, the crushing and distorted doomy guitar riffs breaks out in the chorus, with both vocalists giving a passionate and uplifting performance that is sure to leave shivers down your spine.

Another highlight on the disc would be “Victim Of The Light”, which is a wonderful cross between dark metal and gothic metal, due to the atmospheric keyboard effects and the deep and distorted guitar riffs. Alexei blends two vocal styles, one a soft and sombre gothic style, the other an aggressive and raspy style to produce a range of emotions during the song. The third main highlight is the bombastic and pulsating “Letter Of Marque”, a song that is both dark-tinged and quite atmospheric at the same time, with again Alexei’s multiple vocal styles leading the way. Other tracks to look out for on this well constructed release include the CD opener “The Unsubdued”, the memorable and catchy “Soul Of A Wanderer” and the dark gothic influences of the excellent “Whispers”.

Overall ‘Star Of Deluded Hopes’ is very well done for a debut CD, quite dynamic, energetic, emotional, diverse and most of all - appealing. Desert worked exceptionally well on this creative disc and they seem to have great potential and appear to be heading in the right direction right off the bat. Fans of dark-tinged power/traditional metal would relish a band such as this, and possibly the dark gothic/doom metal fans at the same time.

Originally written for www.metalcdratings.com and www.themetalforge.com

Ambitious but still developing. - 55%

AnalogKid, June 22nd, 2011

Metal has a tendency to leak out of the least likely corners of the world nowadays. Why, I've reviewed several Middle-Eastern bands at this point, and Desert aren't even the first from Israel. The region seems to breed a certain unorthodoxy in the way that many of these bands carry out the writing of their music. In the case of Beersheba's Desert, this means an interesting and somewhat unique blend of metallic stylings that lend the music a flavor all its own.

This is labeled as power metal, and it's not that simple. Desert utilizes a very theatrical approach, using guitar lines more rhythmically and heavily distorted to deliver a crushing, grungy effect. Keyboards are omnipresent, ranging from a sprinkling of harmonic notes to an occasional wall of sound. In any case, the combination of instrumentation and Alexei Raymar's emotive singing construct a vessel that is a theatrical blend of heavy and slower-paced power metal with occasional doomy influences as well (the guitar timbre is definitely part of this).

Desert's sound is somewhat easily distinguishable, to be sure, but the mixture of all of the elements lacks a certain something to carry "Star Of Delusive Hopes" through to the higher plane to which the musicians seem to be aspiring. The songs tend to drag on a bit without strong melodies in the vocal line (an important feature for nearly every band), and while a couple sections of harsh vocals and interesting percussion are featured (hammered chimes in "Release Me"), they're inconsistent enough to almost seem out of place. Once again, the guitars disappoint in this regard as well. With their thick, fuzzy tone, they ride in the backseat throughout the whole album, with nary an explosive lead to shanghai your attention, nor a solo to leave you senseless. What we have on our hands is a band that has become too caught up in the details and has distracted itself from solid songwriting.

There are a few high points, however. "Letter Of Marque" is a spirited song that enjoys an easily-sung chorus, and "Lament For Soldier's Glory" features Joakim Broden of Sabaton fame (Yes, he's singing about soldiers and war again. In fact, I'm not sure that he knows how to sing about anything else). "Whispers" is also a remarkable song with a bit more energy, despite starting with a spoken sample, which I'm never a fan of.

Desert has a creative formula that obviously requires some revision, but the band may be on to something. There is potential here to record a great theatrical metal album with a bit more activity from the guitars, some moderation (or at least balance) from the keyboards, and a good number of hooks thrown in for good measure. Fans of the elusive power/doom fusion genre might find "Star Of Delusive Hopes" to be an interesting find, but I would generally not recommend this over anything else unless you're looking for the very particular niche that Desert is trying to fill.

Originally written for www.blackwindmetal.blogspot.com/