|Review: Almana Shchora - Phantom Pain|
Label: Zaza Recordings
Year released: 2010
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: June 27, 2010
Reviewed by: Lior "Steinmetal" Stein
Sometimes lyrics matter more than music. However, there are tons of examples where the music increases the emotional impact of the lyrics. When it comes to the social disturbances of a particular society, those emotions can be bleak, unforgiving and quite depressing. Almana Shchora ("Black Widow"), based in Israel, is a band that writes about these subjects. Even if the listener doesn't understand Hebrew, the band invites him or her to share the pain through their music.
Israeli society is not always what you see in the media. Like any other country, it has its own inner social problems. Phantom Pain, Almana Shchora's new album, is a product of those struggles and provides an insider's view into a society trying to cope with its own communal mess. The fight for the country's survival, along with other elements, has taken Israeli society into a newfound emptiness filled with issues of identity, drugs, military service and fears of coming wars. Almana Shchora, through their outstanding lyricism, makes sure every Israeli, as well as anyone who listens to their message, faces the truth. And the listener better work it out quickly or it will be the end of them.
Musically, Almana Shchora has made a few changes since their 1997 self-titled debut. Besides a few line-up changes, they've changed musical styles as well. Once, there was a twisted form of Glam/Heavy Metal mixed with some cool Hard Rock. Now, as if in response to their maturing lyrics, their music has become darker. Heavy, Thrash, Hardcore and even modern Hard Rock are all employed on Phantom Pain. The music ranges from fast and heavy to a light touch. It is quite basic, overall, and quite straightforward. Sometimes the simplicity doesn't really move the sound forward but it doesn't get in the way, either. This is an album for those who like modern metal and for those who hope for something less tough in the same box.
What Phantom Pain does suffer from is poor production. A number of tracks lack the pure power they needed. The authority of the guitar is absent on tracks like "Dam, Zfardea," "Kadish" and even "Lohkem Yakar" (especially this song as it is a rather hard song about fallen soldiers.) Some distortion in the guitar sound would have helped a great deal. Moreover, vocalist Zulta, seems to battle the other band members to be heard, but fortunately, this is not the norm.
Overall, Almana Shchora made a great comeback with Phantom Pain. The fact that the lyrics are entirely in Hebrew should not prevent anyone from enjoying their music. If one can enjoy Rammstein or Oomph, one can dig Almana Shchora.
Highlights: "Lohkem Yakar" (Dear Warrior), "Cama Peamim Savarta Ad 10" (How Many Times You Counted Till 10?), "Dam, Zfardea" (Blood, Frogs), "Zman Milhama" (Time of War), "Kadish," "Ima" (Mother).
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