Saturday, November 29, 2014

Maahlas' "Nightmare Years" Dictates the Rules

A few weeks ago, maybe two or three, I was in the mood of listening to progressive metal. Therefore I went into a vegetative condition whilst listening to everything that could be labeled as “alternative”. In the middle of that musical search I found Maahlas’ “Nightmare years”. To tell the truth, at first, I paid no attention to it, not because it wasn’t good but because I was concentrated in something else (I was studying German or French, I’m not sure). What I remember is that nevertheless I kept shaking my head to the music. I think that everyone knows what I’m talking about – that moment when you’re not paying attention to the music and yet you headbang to it because it’s fucking great. A few minutes later, after a couple of songs, my head, automatically, ceased to pay attention to the studies, and went after the songs. It was inevitable since the album was of such greatness. After the two (or three) weeks of exams and studying, coincidentally, Maahlas’ vocalis Levent Ultanur, contacted me through my new page on facebook to check out the band and now I’m writing this review while listening to the song “An Ancestral Memory”, but first things first…

It all started by the Turkish composer and guitarist Cuneyt Caglayan after he moved to Oslo from his home city Instanbul. Maahlas was born in 2012 as an “accumulation of years of feelings and dreams” that needed to be shared. Cuneyt joined with Levent and started recording the album “Nightmare Years” in 2013 summer. Emocionally agressive yet passionate, musically frightful yet beautiful, structurally complex yet simple to the ear - this work should be regarded as a contradiction between elements which are nevertheless compatible with each other. Cuneyt, also known as Cuno, is the mastermind behind the curtains as one can hear from the excellency of his skills with the guitar and as producer. Without the voice of Levent Ultanur the project would be incomplete. When it comes to sing this brutal singer delivers with perfectionism. He is also responsible for the album concept and lyrics.

Maahlas is what one can call progressive melodic blackened death metal. Their style is wide and progressive with a blend of death metal with traces of black metal and melodic metal. Yet in my point of view the term progressive speaks for itself. “Nightmare years” is a grand project, full of good things. In this mighty piece, containing 11 songs, one can sense a vast soundscape. This is the first impression you get from it. “Nightmare Years” varies in many ways due to the innovative and creative vein of Cuno. Throughout the album you can hear the raw, high pitched guitar and un-muted tremolo picking delivering black metal then changing into low tuned guitars and chromatic chords incorporating at the same time melody and harmonious playing for the death and melodic composition. This style incorporates many effects and details and such work needs a huge knowledge of music as also creativity and superior skills.

I must say that notwithstanding the fact that the album presents a higher level of complexity, there’s not a strong emphasis on technicality. There are complex rhythms and unusual song structures but above all Cuneyt follows the “rules” of progressive metal (maybe the right word is conventions and not rules). The progression follows a very natural course and does not exhibits a forced fluency that you get so many times with progressive bands. That said i think that it’s easy to see (hear) the influences of the band. I really don’t know if Cuney always had all these influences (death;black;progressive) but if i had to guess i would say that moving to Oslo acted as a compelling force to deepen the black metal side of his (or I’m very wrong).

I don’t want to label their style or measure their style with other bands. If i had to i would say that i can hear in them a bit of Tool, a bit of Borgir and so on but i prefer to say that their style is unique. Maahlas is one of those bands that label other bands. That’s the greatness of these guys.

With interests from music (Death, Cynic, Gojira, Tool, Carcass, Machine Head, Meshuggah, Pantera, and many more) to “weird films about the unprobbable yet probably very likely”, from “exotic fruits that defy ones tastebuds” to “hot legs on heals” and from “machines that roar and polute” to “beers… lots of beers” Cuneyt and Levent show that they are not joking around (or maybe they are a little). The thing is that you can, in all these interests and influences, see where this guys come from but more importantly where they want to reach. If they continue like this the sky is the limit.

01. Sun of the Summerian (4:31)
02. A False World (5:10)
03. Morning Light (4:11)
04. An Ancestral Memory (5:01)
05. At the Edge of Life (4:30)
06. Gliese 667 / Æra (1:44)
07. Nightmare Years (4:03)
08. The Great Divide (3:41)
09. Birth of Sentience (4:39)
10. Of Hypocrisy, Hate and Fall (7:08)
11. Simulacrum of Reality (4:23)

One melee with the words, ideas and its paradoxes... albuns that are news, the reviews at "", always with its watermark,  Pedro Ribeiro, with love for beer... sorry, music from an early age, he studied piano and singing from 7 to 14 years,  then, devoted himself to the study of the guitar for 5 years. "The wisdom is found in the extremes, all extreme Metal here!"

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