Two years ago “Memorial”, the debut of Israeli DISTORTED, took me by complete surprise, combining Death Metal, Gothic Metal, oriental influences and good female vocals, released via NMC Records that I had never heard of before or after. So I was quite surprised to see them being signed to Candlelight Records now, but then again not really, given the quality of their debut album.
And “Voices From Within”, their 2008 follow-up, more or less takes up right there, maybe a little more Gothic Metal-influenced than I remembered the band, but that does not mean that you can lump DISTORTED into the legions of LACUNA COIL/EVANESCENCE wannabees, which see image as more important than musical substance and put an overemphasis on Gothic instead of Metal. Well, that is not the case with DISTORTED, because they add surprisingly heavy guitars and thundering drums to the mix, together with the Death Metal growls of Raffy Mor as counterpart to Miri Milman’s outstanding vocals, creating mesmerizing songs, which stand head and shoulders above the churning mass of bands of the genre.
“One Last Breath” unites all of this in masterful fashion, if I’d have to give you one track to check out DISTORTED to see, what they are about, this would probably be it. Or rather one of them, because it is only the beginning for a great album that has potential and talent galore and might not necessarily revolutionize the genre, but definitely gives it a push forward and up, just by the way the band combines the extremes while maintaining a very high level of technical proficiency, dynamics and also catchiness. Just look at “What Remains”, which still features the great vocals of Miri, but at times crosses over into realm of Death Metal musically, powerful, heavy, with the growls taking over, but the great thing is that it works, it absolutely works, I love this song!
While “A Soft Whisper” is an acoustic oasis of tranquility, the band does not let up much throughout the album and therein lies part of the beauty and strength of the songs contained. Around the middle the album takes a little dip south, as not all songs manage to keep the same high level (without losing their footing, though), until “Consistent Duality” brings back this magic spark that endeared DISTORTED to my ears so much and I love this kind of harmony solo, very long, but it just drilled itself into my mind, before “Letting Go” also features some clear male vocals, which work great as well, maybe the most Gothic Metal song of the album overall.
Apparently there also are guest appearances by Sven De Caluwe (ABORTED), Thomas Vikström (THERION) and Lisa Johansson (DRACONIAN) on here, I don’t have any info on which one, but at least for Thomas and Lisa I would guess “Letting Go” is the one, somewhere there also are some guest lead guitars by KOLDBORN’s Henrik Jacobsen (ex-HATESPHERE), but the album is way too good to have to rely on name dropping of any kind.
You kind of get the best of both worlds here, Gothic and Death Metal, united in great way, the Deathheads will probably hate the female vocals, the Goth fans will be steamrollered by the heaviness and growls, rarely has sitting between the chairs seemed so comfortable, a great second effort by the Israelis, I am really looking forward to their third strike, if they continue like this, this could get something really big!
(Online October 14, 2008)