MAHAVATAR
"From The Sun, The Rain, The Wind, The Soil"

(Escapi)

01. Cult
02. By The Numbers
03. Raw
04. BH
05. Open Your Minds
06. Psychos
07. Prophecy
08. Deep Cobble
09. Anger
10. The Time Has Come

RATING: 6.5/10

Give credit where credit is due. On "From the Sun, The Rain, The Wind, The Soil", the New York based MAHAVATAR have their own thing going on and seem to care little for accepted conventions of rock and metal, yet their approach is not maddeningly esoteric. The album was originally released only in Europe under the title "Go with the No", and has now been re-mastered with two additional tracks. Though rock-based with significant metal characteristics, the album injects Eastern vibes, mystical flourishes, a vaguely hypnotic aura, and a worldly view into its fairly eclectic mix. Just don't expect the album to take the world by storm. Something along the lines of "turning a few heads" is probably a better way of looking at it.

The backgrounds of the musicians themselves are as interesting as the compositions. Vocalist Lizza Hasan (also credited with Djembe) is a native of Israel and effortlessly shifts from a death metal-esque growl to a soaring melodic vocal, the latter a bit grittier than the stereotypical female croon. Her ability to move between styles is quite impressive. The band also includes fellow Israeli Shahar Mintz (guitar), Jamaican Karla Williams (guitar, congas) and Szymon Maria Rapacz (bass) of Poland. Guest musicians include T-Bone Motta (drums), Roi Star (drums), and Miko (keyboards and floor tom).

Generally speaking, the diverse backgrounds can be heard in the music of MAHAVATAR, but it is not totally "out there" either, as virtually every song is built upon a solid rock/metal foundation. "Cult" begins the album with a straight up, almost thrash metal lick and rhythm, and features a moderately catchy chorus, while "By the Numbers" is driven by a stout bass line, bordering on the funky with a somewhat rappy vocal cadence that shifts to a melodic vocal. A slight gothic, flowing section takes the song home. Williams' guitar solo on this song and a handful of others is unique and heartfelt. A similar vocal pattern is heard on "Raw", the track considerably tougher than its predecessor, yet the song also sports a light acoustic section. The moody "Deep Cobble" is one of the album highlights, a track that creeps along and surges forth with an epic riff. Album-closer "The Time Has Come" is perhaps most worthy of attention for its snaking hypnotic ways and mystical ebb and flow. As for the rest, the compositions are kept interesting, whether it be a peculiar and winding riff, a tribal drum beat, an Eastern tinged guitar lick, or a tough metallic groove. It's too bad that the melodies don't stay with you for very long.

Though it is far from a mind-blower, "From the Sun…" is certainly an intriguing listen, even if it sometimes feels like something is missing from the general equation. For some reason, the songs aren't as memorable as they should be. It may take a few listens to get into the groove and for the average metal/rock fan it may end up being one of those discs for which a certain mood is required. You'll definitely want to check out some MP3s before making a buying decision.

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