This album has felt like a long time coming. It’s been four years since the progressive metal band from Israel released the masterpiece Chain Reaction. The band have been teasing new music to fans for the past year as well as having some line up changes. Last year saw the departure of guitarist Guy Landau, then DISTORTED HARMONY announced they were not only replacing Landau with another guitarist, but TWO guitarists; Amit Plaschkes and Yoel Genin. Some fans, me included, were worried how much a second guitarist would shake up the wonderful dynamic of the band. But seriously, it was the perfect step for the evolution of DISTORTED HARMONY’s sound.
Four years is a long time between albums, so progression in sound is expected. The band have become a lot heavier with A Way Out, their third album, but not too far to alienate older fans. Personally I applaud the techier and riffier direction as this will hopefully see them gain a stronger footing in the progressive metal scene. They still have their (not so) secret weapon though, in the form of keyboardist/mastermind Yoav Efron and it’s his signature flourishes which enable DISTORTED HARMONY to remain unique.
The album begins with such a flourish in the opener Downfall. Immediately you can hear the progression from Chain Reaction. The sound is bigger, bolder and far more confident. This includes vocalist Misha Soukhinin and his distinct and charming vocals. He really steps up the game in this release and proves he can belt a tune out just as good as the rest. This first song is a superb example of what DISTORTED HARMONY offer in 2018; intelligent compositions, challenging lyrics, big choruses and thinking outside the box. Fans might be anticipating riffs, riffs, riffs with this release but nothing prepared me for the utter groove-fest that is second track Room 11. Everything is ramped up for this track and this completes the spectacular beginning of A Way Out.
Things get extremely interesting with third track Awaken, whose first half soothes and matches the charm of Chain Reaction. The subtle electronics here underline the amazing song-writing prowess of the group, but it is the second half of this track which will blow you away. Everything ramps up and soars creating an unexpected climax for so early on in the album. The closing riff sounds not too dissimilar to Methylene Blue which perfectly completes the song. Things get extra technical with Severed, where the keys and guitars satisfying align before it breaks down into a djenty breakdown. It’s really interesting to hear the heavier influences coming into play here and sitting seamlessly amongst the classic DISTORTED HARMONY components.
For Puppet On Strings, things sound a little MARTIN GRECH in places. The eerie and brooding composition coupled with the musing vocals make this song one of the most haunting on the album. This is followed by the rousing interlude of For Ester, which is an utterly compelling instrumental break before our ears are pummelled by the opening riff of Anima. The melody reminds me a little of TOOL which is amusing because of the choice of title track used. The sweeping chorus is classic DISTORTED HARMONY which is complimented by the newer techier riffs.
A Way Out of Here has an innocent tone and is stripped down to piano and vocals at the beginning. Quiet and haunting, when other instrumentation is introduced it reminds me of the charming days of KRISTIAN LEONTIOU, the kind of heart-wrenching ballad with a soft accompaniment which emphasises the emotions and lyrics. DISTORTED HARMONY have always been the masters of creating captivating tunes and it appears they’ll continue to be so. If you really are craving the days of Chain Reaction then the next track Time and Time Again is for you! With hints of Natural Selection and Hollow, it will appease old fans and new.
The first song DISTORTED HARMONY released off A Way Out is still one of the most provoking songs of the album. We Are Free is a glorious track of tech riffs and mesmerising programming, topped off with the powerful chorus and imagery. When the breakdown drops, it drops hard. DISTORTED HARMONY use breakdowns to great effect, they never add one unnecessarily, but they know when to sprinkle them in for an intense impact.
Before you know it, it’s the album finale, Someday, which is another melodically intense affair. The pacing and use of multiple vocals may remind you of Every Time She Smiles. DISTORTED HARMONY seem to lean towards a modest closing track and Someday is no different. It never quite takes off but this is the eerie magic of it. A bewitching end to a spectacular album, don’t be surprised if A Way Out sees the band breaking out. It would be a shame to keep such a talented band hidden away. Once they’ve fully unlocked their potential, who knows what DISTORTED HARMONY could achieve. Another stunning effort.