Review: Soul Enema - Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

Just when I thought all of the fresh talent in prog metal was hiding towards the more extreme side of the spectrum, I am introduced to this band, the Israeli quintet Soul Enema. Although I was expecting Soul Enema to fall into the same rut of Dream Theater or Symphony X that so many melodic prog metal bands do, the change of pace here is refreshing, and while not an entirely new breath of fresh air than what I have already heard in the style, Soul Enema do plant themselves as one of the last vestiges of hope in a style that I personally think got tired over a decade ago.

My personal cynicisms for melodic prog metal aside, Soul Enema are a truly impressive act, and the fact that I find myself so endeared to them with all things considered should be a testament to their strength as an act. Musically, Soul Enema’s music is heavy at times, but always melodic, and resists the temptation to become an overly technical wankfest a la Dream Theater. Instead, Soul Enema bases their sophomore album around the long lost art of proper songwriting; their music uses sometimes complex musicianship, but it is always based in a tight composition, and this really grabs my attention. The vocals here are often the center of attention atop tasteful instrumentation, the atmosphere is kept somewhat dark and melancholic throughout, and- coming as a surprise to someone that was expecting a metal album- tastefully mellow. Soul Enema is instead heavy prog rock throughout most of this, although I would have to say that the vocals keep a metallic tinge to the music. Comprised of two vocalists, Noa Gruman (who is listed as a lead vocalist) and Constantin Glantz (who sings on a number of songs), the vocal delivery on Of Clans and Clones and Clowns is something refreshing. 

The songwriting here is generally the highlight of the album. Everything is beautifully produced and polished, but the sound stays organic; a sure sign of a successful studio job. The songwriting really caught my attention from the first listen onwards though; while the atmosphere that Soul Enema makes on the album rarely becomes upbeat or cheery, they get the sadness across with a variety of different sounds.

It has to be mentioned that there is a number of musicians that appear here and are listed as guest contributors. These include Ayreon’s mastermind Arjen Lucassen who plays lead guitar on “Eternal Child,” certainly one of the highlights and centrepieces of the record. Other guest appearances include Yuri Ruslanov & Sergey Kalugin of Russian progressive rockers Orgia Pravednikov, Yossi Sassi (ex-Orphaned Land), and more.

Spymania” is one of the most memorable tracks here, using some lively riffs to create a hook. “Last Days of Rome” makes perfect use of those mid-to-high-register vocals that Now Gruman does so well, and gets fairly heavy, only to be trailed by a nice sitar passages in “Dear Bollock (Was a Sensitive Man).” The highlight moments on Of Clans and Clones and Clowns are brilliant. The album is one of the most consistent records I have heard since the beginning of the year although it’s “jumping” quite a lot. It gets me excited to see what else that the band has in store.

Grab a copy of the album here.

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