FARAZ ANWAR — Tale Of The Lunatics (review)

FARAZ ANWAR — Tale Of The Lunatics album cover Album · 2022 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Pakistan is a geographical spot on the map that many of us Westerners are woefully ignorant of except for the occasional news blurbs casting this ancient region in a negative spin. This region of the world is actually quite fascinating not only for its multi-millennial history but as it turns out, for its modern contributions to the world as well. Musically speaking when one thinks of Pakistan (if one thinks of it at all), the immediate musical genre that comes to mind would be the qawwali with perhaps Pakistan's most famous musical export Nusrat Ali Khan as the nation's ambassador in the musical sense. While ethnic music is pretty much celebrated in every culture of the world, i have to admit that i wasn't aware of the fact that progressive metal has been a thing there for quite some time now.

Guitarist FARAZ ANWAR has been on the scene for quite a while as a member of the Karachi based Dusk and also his other band Mizraab. Both bands have been dabbling in the world of progressive metal since the mid-1990s and as a solo artist ANWAR released his debut "Abstract Point Of View" as far back as 2001. Although it took sixteen years between the last two albums, ANWAR returns only two years later with a followup. TALES OF THE LUNATICS is a concept album that tells the tale of a fictional angel named Afaiel who was sent to this 3D Earth by his master to be a human being. The album is an interesting mix of spoken word narration (in English) with ANWAR's stellar guitar works that range from a sensual Eric Johnson tone-rich blues oriented style to more aggressive shredding.

While primarily a guitar oriented release, TALE OF THE LUNATICS also features some excellent precision, divine choirs and chorus as well as some orchestration that is placed in the right places. While the term progressive metal can mean different things, in this case the album is very much a mix of slower symphonic prog moments with heavier prog metal alternating between intricate passages that allow ANWAR to showcase his guitar playing skills. Basically narrated vocals introduce an overarching theme and the instrumental interpretation ensues. Well i should say mostly instrumental because a few vocal tracks do occur such as on "Throw Your Swords." I should mention this this album is solely performed by ANWAR who handles not only guitars but bass, keys, drums as well as vocals.

Well i'm simultaneously impressed and underwhelmed at the same time with this one. While the concept is an interesting one and the narrative is pretty intriguing, i can't say the musical accompaniments match the magnanimity of the intent. No doubt that ANWAR is a gifted musician who can master all instruments set in front of him. My main problem is that the music doesn't convey the message of the storyline. Musically speaking this is a mix of Dream Theater, Kansas, other prog metal acts and a bit of Middle Eastern and local Pakistani flavors. There's even a few neo-prog moments however nothing really seems like it fits the narrative and therefore it seems like the whole concept was an afterthought than rather being the impetus for the entire album experience.

This is a fun album but i guess i expected more from the whole thing. It's really just an average prog metal experience with a better than average concept that doesn't quite gel with the musical performances. The most impressive track is the closing "Lap Lost" which features a more diverse roster of ideas and musical mojo. I'm torn between this album as i like a lot of what it represents and the musical skills showcased but i can't quite gel with the vocal performances nor can i get over the fact that i've heard this type of prog metal a million times prior. Overall this is a pleasant enough experience but not one that invites me to return time and time again. There is much room for improvement and i hope ANWAR continues to pursue a more sophisticated compositional development protocol. Good but not essential.
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