Artcell is a rather unkown progressive metal band from Bangladesh that has been around for far over one decade by now. Even though they might never get an international breakthrough, the band mostly skips annoying solo passages and concentrates on diversified vocal performances with many catchy moments and commercial attempts. The lyrics are entirely performed in Bengali but this happens to be a very harmonic and colourful language that fits well to the mostly soft and enchanting melodies. The band has some very gifted guitar players in their line-up but their talents always serve the vocals and lyrics and become rarely overwhelming which is a positive fact for the fluidity.
There are some harder tracks and a couple of influences coming from famous Western bands. The atmospheric "Krittim Manush" almost sounds like a Bengali version of Metallica's classic "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" while the closing "Olosh Shomoyer Pare" can be compared to an old enchanting Dream Theater ballad like "The Silent Man" for example. Overall, the band still lacks a little bit of a coherent songwriting and the record is maybe a little bit too mainstream orientated and calm at some moments. Metal maniacs might get bored from time to time, but a couple of ballads are really worth to be lsitened to and the band happens to be very gifted in writing this kind of music.
Let's cite "Itihash (Shomoy/Addrishto)" as the most outstanding track among the calmer stuff because of its high pitched and overall variable but coherently chilling vocals that give this track a slight pop feeling. The whole thing is though played with technical diversity and especially the acoustic guitars play beautiful melodies filled with passion. After three minutes, the track gets a surprising break and turns towards harder groove metal passages until a well done finish.
Not as outstanding but overall even better is the great "Obosh Anubhutir Deyal" where dark and light clean vocals perfectly fusion and work together. They fit perfectly to the magic arrangements like the slight New Age moments with some shy folk influences, decent string passages and a great acoustic guitar work.
There are though maybe a couple too many ballads on this release even though each one of them uses a couple of creative ideas. "Rupok (Ekti Gan)" kicks off very enchanting but the track finally lacks of progression and is too long in my humble opinion with a running time of eight minutes and a half. This kind of lengths can be observed throughout the release and the band would have created a more fluid listening experience if they would have cut off two or three minutes in the longest tracks.
Another flaw comes with the production that is overall acceptable but could be more precise as we talk about quite progressive music. Sometimes, one misses a couple of interesting background melodies that only get accessible after several tries and at other moments, there are too many instruments playing at the same time and level to clearly distinguish them. On the other side, we talk about a quite exotic gem coming from a country where metal music is overall not very popular and where the musicians won't make their lives with their artistic outputs and can't invest so much money in this kind of details. It's already a surprise that these guys are still around after all these years and the release of two full lengths records should be seen as a victory for the multicultural metal movement.
These guys are definitely very talented and especially the diversified guitar parts and the great vocals stand out and make the whole thing very addictable. This release is very light-hearted without being superficial and that's what makes its magic. Especially the numerous ballads are amazing and must not hide behind their Western idols. This record definitely grows once one gets used to the exotic lyrics, the mediocre production and the calm approach of the genre.
In their homeland, these guys are considered as local legends by some and the people are right because this band is very gifted, has been around for quite a while and is the most interesting metal band I've heard of from this place to date. If you want to know more about the metal scene of Bengladesh, you should also try to check out the work of the pioneer bands such as the sometimes more hard rock orientated Warfaze and the probably first real metal band of the country which is RockStrata but the heavy to progressive sounds of Cryptic Fate or the more psychedelic vein of In Dhaka might also sound interesting but are harder to find than this release from Artcell and I have only heard a few excerpts until now.
If you're intrigued by calm progressive metal with a slight exotic touch you should definitely give this album some spins. My appetite has now grown for more and I will try to follow the path of this band and discover more metal music from this big but mysterious country.