DISTORTED HARMONY — Chain Reaction (review)

DISTORTED HARMONY — Chain Reaction album cover Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Chain Reaction (2014) is the second full-length album by Israeli progressive metal act Distorted Harmony. Like with the band's debut Utopia (2012) Chain Reaction is an entirely self-released effort and is available in both digital and CD format. A deluxe digital edition also exists that contains bonus material such as guitar tabs and drum charts; quite a nice extra for musician fans.

Back when Utopia was released, initially as a free download, I was greatly impressed by it and I know I was not alone in that. Setting the bar so high with a first offering though does put the pressure on for what the artist follows it up with so it was with both excitement and trepidation that I took my first listen to Chain Reaction.

Well it's pretty clear that Distorted Harmony have lost none of their skill as musicians and composers. On a purely instrumental basis I'd say that Chain Reaction is even stronger than Utopia was. Tracks like Misguided and Natural Selection are in particular progressive metal goldmines. The biggest change in the overall sound between the two albums is that the symphonic influences have been quite significantly withdrawn this time making Chain Reaction more of a straight progressive metal release. They still tone things down a bit towards a lighter more progressive rock orientated sound for parts of the album though, but that's true of most progressive metal acts. The band have also gone for a more concise method of songwriting this time as well, giving a total of nine tracks next to Utopia's six. There's still a couple of longer ones such as Misguided and closer Methylene Blue though, which clock in at 8:34 and 7:53 respectively. The sound production seems to have been given more polish as well, which is of course to the benefit of this type of music.

Singer Misha Soukhinin is also in fine form here though I can't say I'm fond of the screaming section thrown into second track Children of Red, which is the only negative thing I have to say about the album. To my ears it feels unnecessary given the quality of his singing voice, which if anything is even stronger here than on Utopia (in between these two albums he was actually a contestant on the talent show The Voice Israel where he reached the quarter-finals and no doubt received coaching from the experience, at least that's how the UK version of that show works). To my ears the screams disrupt the otherwise flawless flow of the music. A minor issue all things considered, one that's offset by all the other positive things that can be said of Chain Reaction but I do have to be objective here, it is an issue that didn't exist on Utopia. But it is good that bands try different things and hopefully this probing with extreme influences won't go any further; this band doesn't need them.

Like with their debut, Distorted Harmony's Chain Reaction is a high class progressive metal effort. So much so that I actually have a hard time deciding which of the two albums I prefer. It's fair to say though that if you like your prog to be symphonic you're more likely to enjoy Utopia. Likewise if you don't like symphonic elements Chain Reaction will be more your cup of tea. That doesn't help me choose, since I like it both ways and while Chain Reaction makes slight improvements to Utopia's ideas (and it was always only going to be slight improvements on such a fantastic and professional debut) it did also introduce one small negative aspect which offset them. It's probably fairest to score them the same because of that. I made comparisons in my Utopia review to the British band Haken as both bands debut's blew me away in a similar manner. Both bands have now produced equally worthy second albums. Haken however fell slightly short when it came to album number three. Time will only tell if Distorted Harmony can do what the other band didn't. Oh and 5 well earned stars for Chain Reaction.
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more than 2 years ago
Utopia was brilliant, I've got to check this out!


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