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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/