BEHIND THE MASK I
Release: October 25, 2019
Vikram is a metal band from Brazil with influences that range from progressive metal to folk and ethnic, and as such their music being described as oriental progressive metal. The project is idealized by guitarist Tiago Della Vega, who created the trilogy their debut album “Behind the Mask I” is based on. This album takes the reader on a journey through time and space, based on the Eastern culture (Egypt, Turkey, Arabia, Spain and India).
The way I see it, their music is more in the thrash metal realm than it is progressive as the guitars are fast-paced and relentless and the vocals have a raspy harshness to them. Not to discard the progressive riffs and weird time signatures that are scattered across the album, but the general vibe that I get from the music is like a mix between Myrath and Slayer. The oriental rhythms and harmonies, and the ethnic musical elements from various countries add a bit of flavor and variety to the music, but not enough to cut through the aggressiveness seeping from the guitars and vocals. The album in itself is a concept album, the first part of a trilogy, based on Nathaniel Frost’s life and details his travels through several eastern countries (hence all the different influences heard in the music) in a journey of self-discovery.
The mortal dance of Kali
Requiem for Salem
Burn in Hell
Hassan Tower (feat. Jaiwa Kalai)
Eyes of Ra (feat. Inês Vera Ortiz)
The red masquerade
Prelude of the end
Behind the mask Iù
After the instrumental “Taar” opens up the album, the guitars and drums take over for “The mortal dance of Kali”, where the oriental (or hindu?) melodies contrast with the vocals but it all comes together in the chorus. Vocalist Guilherme de Siervi attempts some Arabic melodies with his vocals to be in tune with the music (think of the stuff Zaher Zorgati does in Myrath) but he lacks Zaher’s innate ability to modulate his voice to the rhythm. “Requiem for Salem” comes with some chugging guitar riffs and pounding drums accompanied by some strings and choirs (deep) in the background that ad a haunting atmosphere to the track, while “Burn in Hell” is relentless and fierce, with double bass drumming, heavy guitar lines and powerful vocals, all caped of by a piano melody that bleeds into a guitar solo. The Spanish influences are heard on the (almost) acoustic number “Andaluzia”, which kind of acts as a sort of interlude between the first and second part of the album. Again Guilherme de Siervi’s voice doesn’t exactly blend well with the instrumental, some parts sounding a bit forced.
“Hassan Tower” brings back the oriental rhythms, which mix pretty well with the guitars and vocals, and make me think of Myrath’s 2011 “Tales of the Sands”, as all these different elements add both beauty and edge to the music. The thrashy riff that “Forsaken death” begins with is the backbone of the song, while the vocals are powerful, but not as melodic as I had hoped they would be (and this applies to the whole album, not just this particular song), but the guitar solo is pretty good. The same can be said about “Gypsy tragedy”. The duet with Inês Vera Ortiz “Eyes of Ra”, complete with an over-the-top solo, ads some more spices to the mix, but overall it’s not that different from the rest of the songs. Honestly, for a concept album, this is pretty linear and a sense of déja-vu is almost unavoidable, especially considering it’s about 72 minutes long.
“The red masquerade” is more up-tempo and alert with chugging guitar lines and the same powerful, raspy, almost menacing vocal delivery, and considering the choirs at the end, it can be seen as being a highlight of the album. “The burden” again brings back the oriental charm with well-placed string sections, while the harsh vocals ad dramatism and edge to the song. “Shokran” is another hard hitter of a song, with an alert feel to it, and a dramatic vocal delivery, while “Prelude of the end” is probably the most theatrical piece on display here, from the vocals to the bass lines, to the backing piano melody, to the build-up and orchestration. “Behind the mask Iù” closes the album on a rather catchy note, making me wish I had heard much more of these hooky vocal melodies throughout.
On the plus side, the album feels consistent and cohesive, as the folkier parts are neatly interwoven within the music, and the general narrative flows at a good pace. The guitars could be rightly considered the focal point of the album as guitarist Tiago Della Vega brings his A-game on every track. Overall, this is a solid debut, with many flavors to it, but a bit too long and linear for my taste.
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Guilherme de Siervi – Vocals
Tiago Della Vega – Guitars
G. Morazza – Bass
Tiago Zunino – Keyboard
Marcus Dotta – drums