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Subterranean Masquerade is a progressive metal band that was formed in 1997 by Tomer Pink, who is a guitarist and primary songwriter for the band.

Consisting mainly of Tomer Pink and Jake DePolitte alongside a variety of changing guest and session musicians—including members from bands such as Arcturus, Novembers Doom, Agalloch, and Epoch of Unlight—the project aims release a trilogy of records which follow the story of an everyman known only as X. While mainly described as progressive metal, Subterranean Masquerade incorporates elements of jazz, psychedelic rock, and avant-garde metal.

The release of the 2004 EP, Temporary Psychotic State, garnered high acclaim for the band among the underground metal scene. The 2005 album Suspended Animation Dreams received more mixed reviews. In January 2007, Pink confirmed on the band's official forum that the recordings of the third album had begun, and that it would be entitled In Pastille Colors.

Discography: Full
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SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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EP · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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"Temporary Psychotic State" is an EP release by international progressive metal act Subterranean Masquerade. The EP was released through The End Records in March 2004. It´s the band´s first official label release. Subterranean Masquerade was formed in 1997 by guitarist Tomer Pink. For this release he enlisted lead vocalist Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom, These Are They), guitarist Jake DePolitte, bassist Jason William Walton (Agalloch, Celestiial, Sculptured), and drummer Tino LoSicco (Epoch of Unlight).

Stylistically the music is a rather unconventional type of progressive metal which defies a meaningful catagorization as it features elements from everything from acoustic folk, to rock´n´roll, to death growls and extreme metal elements, to psychadelic/progressive rock. It certainly is a very eclectic and unique sounding progressive metal style that doesn´t really sound like anything else on the scene.

The EP features 2 tracks and a full playing time of 17:21 minutes. It´s a fairly good introduction to the band´s unique music style. Both tracks are relatively slow building and goes through several changes without ever turning technically complex. The song structures are rather adventurous though. In addition to the "regular" instrumentation of guitars, bass, and drums, the music also features mellotron, keyboards/electronics, violin, female clean vocals, and male growling/clean vocals. It could have been a mess, but it all comes together in a very interesting sound. It´s all performed by very skilled musicians, who deliver their parts to perfection.

The only minor issue is the sound production. It´s generally a well produced album, but the heavy distorted parts sound a bit thin and lacks bottom. Other than that "Temporary Psychotic State" is a very intriguing and above all promising first release by Subterranean Masquerade. It´s not often I find myself picking my jaw up from the floor in amazement and simoultaniously ripping hair from my head in frustration because I can´t really explain what it is I´ve just heard, but I know for certain that it´s a unique and very exciting take on progressive metal and that a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.


EP · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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The Great Tease This is the first I have heard of Subterranean Masquerade, but it certainly won't be the last.

From what I've heard, this band seems to be a bit of an enigma ? the Wintersun of the heavy prog world, so to say. The band's sole full-length album, Suspended Animation Dreams was released to great acclaim back in 2005, and the band has more or less been silent since. Gaining a cult following from that album, and their 2004 EP Temporary Psychotic State, Subterranean Masquerade went into long term hiding, until last year, when they bubbled up again, with the single Home, released on limited 7" vinyl.

Home was constantly appearing on my radar, from being at the top of my RYM automatic recommendations, to trusted critics talking about it and friends telling me I should hear it. But I generally ignore singles, and assumed, in my naiveté, that Home would be followed by a full- length record (this was before I knew of Subterranean Masquerade's reputation). And I was sort of right, since this is now the EP version of Home, released digitally, with the b-side "Beyond The Pale" (a cover of gothic rock band The Mission), and a lengthy bonus track, the nearly 10- minute "That Night". With this EP now reaching past 20 minutes, it was back on my radar as a worthwhile release, and damn? this is really something.

On this release, Subterranean Masquerade are playing a style of progressive rock/metal that sounds somewhere between Orphaned Land, Opeth and Porcupine Tree. We have the introspective atmospheres of Wilson & Co, particularly evident on "Beyond The Pale", we have the deep growls and big riffs of Blackwater Park-era Opeth, which find their way into parts of the title track, as well as a significant majority of the final bonus track, and then we have the Arabic flavour of Orphaned Land, made even more notable now that Orphaned Land's drummer Mathan Smuhely has joined the band for this current lineup (along with Novembers Doom bassist Mike Feldman). The songs here are decorated by little flourishes of Arabic strings, both bowed and picked, and even the guitar riffing has the sort of of oriental flourish that Orphaned Land's guitars do.

The instrumentals here, for the most part, are outstanding. The first two tracks here were mixed by metal maestro Dan Swanö, who has produced many of my favourite records, and the production here is certainly excellent as well. The title track is lead by a quick riff, done with a flurry of guitar and Arabic violins (apologies for not knowing the correct name for these instruments). Although this riff, along with several here, sound straight of a record like ORwarriOR, Subterranean Masquerade keep their distance from Orphaned Land, done by using some Porcupine Tree-esque ambience and vocal parts in the verse. "Beyond The Pale", being a gothic rock cover, is a far softer affair, although even then, some metal and some Arabic stuff floats in, showing that Subterranean Masquerade aren't simply covering it, they're making it their own track, sounding perfectly fine right next to "Home". I do not know of the original track, released on The Mission's 1988 album Children, but judging from the high single rating it has gathered here, it seems to be a highly considered track in its original form as well. My favourite part here is certainly the Arabic section in the bridge, when the instrumentals get into a great groove, the sort of jam that could go on for minutes and never get boring, which is why I get kinda annoyed that it's cut off a bit fast at the end.

But honestly my only real complaint about this release, and it certainly gets in the way of my enjoyment, are the vocals. Both the deep growls and the low, baritone cleans are a bit irritating and weak in my books, and the only time they really work is during the gothic rock of the verses of "Beyond The Pale", but even then I'm still not too keen. The growls are a bit messy and vague, reminding me a lot of Mikko Kotamäki, especially his work with Barren Earth, in that they are rather infuriating and don't really mesh well with the style of music. The only time they really work here is during the final track, "That Night", in which they are the dominant vocal style for its 9-minute runtime. "That Night" was a song originally written and recorded for Suspended Animation Dreams nearly 10 years ago, but the band never released it until now, and if this is a bonus track, then I really have to get my hands on that album. The song is an incredibly Opethian track, relying on riffs more than anything else, and Subterranean Masquerade really show their hand in playing these; some of them are absolutely brilliant. I love the mood that the track holds for the first few minutes, how despite the death vocals, it feels sort of uplifting in a weird sense, like a happier and more upbeat track, yet simultaneously, it's melodic death metal.

Honestly, if Subterranean Masquerade plans to release a full-length record anytime soon, the Home has certainly done its job of pulling the hype back their way. With Orphaned Land releasing a lacklustre album last year, and Myrath's new one being nowhere to be found, it seems the world is in need of a new face of progressive oriental metal, and oddly, one that comes from New York. Subterranean Masquerade, you have our attention. Don't lose it.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE Suspended Animation Dreams

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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Conor Fynes
'Suspended Animation Dreams' - Subterranean Masquerade (8/10)

I had been hearing some great things about this album for a long while before I got around to listening to Subterranean Masquerade's 'Suspended Animation Dreams', and once again, my my musical network has not let me down. Although often called a progressive metal, or avant-garde metal band, there is alot about them that does not fit any of those labels. Suffice to say, 'Suspended Animation Dreams' is an eclectic effort, but it ultimately gives off a lasting impression that keeps me coming back. Although aspects of the band's sound feel somewhat half-baked in comparison to the sheer perfection they reach with others, Subterranean Masquerade's first- and to date, only- album deserves an invested experience from any adventurous listener.

You may have heard of the death metal elements that Subterranean bring to their music, but a listener who may be turned off by death growls should not be thwarted. Of the hour or so length, only a fraction is lent to metal, or heavy things in general. As a whole, Subterranean go for a prog rock sound that's hard to pinpoint in any prog trend. Their music can be acoustic and folky, or jazzy. As one may guess from a track title lie 'Rock n' Roll Preacher', there are also straight up 'rock' moments, where there's nothing particularly weird going on, and the music has an upbeat feel to it. Often, the mellower side of the band could draw comparisons from Pink Floyd. No mistakes made, however; 'Suspended Animation Dreams' is a challenging album, and there is not much out there that sounds like it. Although a listener will likely not confront something they perceive as being totally 'abstract', the fact that the wide range of sounds are all within the course of one album makes the album quite a handful to digest all at once.

The musicianship here is strong, though lopsided. Taking a look at the 'cast' for this album can go to indicate how many instruments are actually at work here. There are horns, saxophones, and harmonicas. Considering that this is a metal album, it takes some memorable songwriting to have it all fit together well, and Subterranean Masquerade do not disappoint on that front. Some of these instruments make a cameo for a moment only, and then leave, and it would have been nice to hear some of the most promising elements, such as the harmonica, a little further developed. There are Paul Kehr's vocals are arguably the most distinctive aspect of this band, a lower-register voice that carries alot of emotion and warmth to it. Where Subterranean Masquerade ironically loses some of their intensity is actually the metal portion of their sound. The metal guitar tone sounds a little weak, and it generally feels less well-executed and powerful than its mellow counterpart. Although they are labelled a 'prog metal' group, 'Suspended Animation Dream's greatest feature are the warm, often acoustically driven prog rock they make. Thankfully, that's where the band devotes most of their time, making Subterranean Masquerade's debut a winner.


EP · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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A short EP, but what great music!

The first chapter of the trilogy of an individual named X. It begins in his room, number 63, where he tells us his story abut his madness, his desires and hallucinations. And the music that he plays fits this mood so perfectly, you feel as if you are with him in his mind. You can feel his agony, his tormented soul, his psychological scars caused by the woodpecker in his head.

This band is the brainchild of Tomer Pink who wrote here the lyrics along with Yishai Swaerts (An Israeli metal figure and previously vocalist for Israeli metal bands Nail Within and Moonskin). Pink surrounded himself with very good musicians in order to achieve the best possible result, which he has. Every note here is carefully thought of, planned and carried out in a very good manner.

The first song starts with a tune that sounds as a park show amusement theme. Then you hear an acoustic guitar greeting you in, and a slightly mad voice welcoming you. Then the music starts and the violin makes sure you understand you have entered into a hall of insanity. The vocals at first are clear and "normal" and in the second part of the song change to death growls which are Paul Kuhr's specialty (He is the vocalist of Chicago's doom band November's Doom). The music flows on perfectly; creating weird, disturbing soundscapes that along with the lyrics make you wonder where the hell it is that you have wondered into. At about 4:20 begins the part that leads to the climax of this song. The lyrics and the music together create an effect that surpasses anything each one alone could have achieved. And then Paul switches to death growls singing abut his Psychotic State of Mind. His voice/growls just points out how much disturbed X is, and in how much pain he is. The music itself is so beautiful, making you sympathize with X, feel sorry for his pain.

Then the second song, starting again acoustically with the violin's perpetual company to warn us, this insanity is not over yet. In here we hear Susan Naud's beautiful vocal performance that perhaps personifies X lost love and his memories of her. Then the music changes again its style to the last part which is a cry for help.

The music is somewhat eclectic in that, that there are many genres blended perfectly into one composition. You get rock, metal, some folkish tunes (which the violin creates) and other bits of other styles - the result is progressive music that keeps on evolving all the time, not resting in its place, searching for more ways of developing and original.

The music is beautiful, the musicianship very good, the emotions expressed are overwhelming. A brilliant piece of work.


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