Amadeus Awad - Time of the Equinox
Reviewer: Karim Chami - 2012-09-05
Highlights: The Origins Of Light, Gift Of Solitude & Joy
This has to be one of the very few times where I’m anticipating a new local metal release. Honestly, I’m not really all that impressed with local/Middle Eastern releases, but there have been a few decent albums throughout the past couple of years and it is proof that the Middle Eastern metal scene has some very talented musicians that are ready to offer something new to the metal enthusiasts around the world. What made me really interested in “Time Of The Equinox” is Amadeus’ formidable guitar skills and the interesting singers that appeared on several tracks throughout the album.
First of all, for all the people who are expecting heavy riffs and double bass drums all the time, this release is not about that at all. The style is definitely progressive rock but progressive rock is a broad term so the best way to describe the music is that it’s in a way a fusion of several styles, progressive rock with some neoclassical influences mainly in the guitar sections mixed with local influences, classical & jazzy piano sections, violins and other instruments. What’s really interesting is that all those styles are blended in the right way to create a certain harmony and consistency throughout the album and the production is not a letdown at all. All the instruments can be heard clearly although you get the feeling sometimes that the album is lacking atmosphere in certain places but that’s not a problem at all and the production is definitely up to the standards specially when it’s compared to our local scene.
The album starts with a very interesting track “The Origins Of Light” which sets the right mood with its Pink Floydish atmospheric intro and then kicks in with a classical piano verse which is followed by a soothing guitar section that is reminiscent of 70’s guitar masters (Uli Jon Roth, Ritchie Blackmore) to mention a few; A very suitable track to start the journey. “Gift Of Solitude & Joy” is another instrumental piece which doesn’t let the listener down and reminds me of Joe Satriani’s slower numbers with very well thought guitar licks and passages that makes it another interesting instrumental track. And now we reach a breaking point in the album and honestly the most anticipated part by many including myself, and I’m talking about the Paper Dreams Suite. Mark Boals (of Royal Hunt and Yngwie Malmsteen’s fame) makes a guest appearance on this suite which is divided into 3 parts. I’m not going to describe each one of these tracks, I’ll just recommend getting the album and listening to them because they contain a really great performance by Mark.
I could go on describing each track but instead I’ll focus on the high points of the album. The title track has to be my favorite instrumental piece on the album; the neoclassical guitar licks and solos with their baroque feel are a high point on this album and add to those regional influences that add to the intensity of this track. Swedish female rock singer Liz Vandal who has toured extensively with ex Scorpions guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth makes a guest appearance on 2 tracks and provides a spine chilling performance which I longed to hear from a female rock singer. Perhaps the only small letdown of this album is the absence of really long tracks and some technical drum patterns or extended solos but that’s no big problem because the amount of tracks and the presence of accomplished international guest singers make up for that minor issue.
If you’re looking for a solid and innovative release from the Lebanese scene then this is the album I’ll recommend. It is up to the standards and is guaranteed to provide a pleasurable listen for people who appreciate progressive rock music. Each track is well thought and the band has a put a lot of effort to create “Time Of The Equinox” and I think the end results will please a lot of people. One last thing, that solo on "Tales Of Celtic Sunsets" which features Timo Somers will blow your brains out guaranteed.