Musically I am a much traveled Metalhead, but Metal from Iran still is something completely new to me! I had been pretty surprised when the Tehran-based band A****A contacted me to do a review of their self-titled debut album, not even knowing that in this very strongly Islamite country Metal could exist to begin with, as Western music is forbidden and M. (their guitarist) confirmed that by letting me know that this album had been released illegally and that they are not sure what could happen to them. Now I had expected something really brutal, as so often from so-called “exotic” countries, but no, the band cites their main influences as ICED EARTH and IRON MAIDEN and as big fan of either band that is a very good start, I must say.
Even though we only get six songs, the playing time has album format with 53 minutes, so the guys give you value for money. Especially the ICED EARTH influence comes through a lot, in the riffing, in the rhythm, but they do not copy, they just strongly implement this influence, A****A are walking a very fine line. Instrumentally the Iranians are very fit on their instruments, only on the mic there is a certain problem for A. H.’s voice is just not expressive and melodic enough, overall the songs suffer from his lack in range. But the quartet shows quite some potential in the song writing department, as they manage to give their long compositions good structure, so they do not drag or seem pieced together, but contain good dynamics and segues to keep the listener’s attention.
“Beyond The Reasonable Doubt Of A Lunatic“ starts very quiet with calm vocals, but then rises up to double-bass and ICED EARTH like riffing, which is even stronger on “Flock”, an overall faster song, well done, well played, dynamic, good! On the closing instrumental “Ahoora” you can completely concentrate on the vocals, alternating between slow- and mid-paced and here and there letting ICED EARTH shine through again.
At times the songs might seem a little dry, which for one could be attributed to the fact that this is the Iranians’ debut, for the other I would guess that it is not that easy over there to find a good studio for a Metal album, so we can’t really complain too much. The guys have potential and with a bit more work on the vocals (or a new singer, depends) I am sure that on a potential second album they should be able to take a good step forward. Due to the situation in their home country I am awarding 0.5 points of a bonus and they deserve it! (Online July 28, 2006)
P.S.: This review has been edited to remove all names due to political pressure on the band in their country. We have been asked to edit the review and in the light of this situation are more than happy to oblige!