Every now and then an unexpected treat comes forth to pleasure the ear, a band or release sent to or appearing from nowhere to play with and for the senses to give a fully enjoyable experience. The latest album from Israeli metal band Desert is the latest fine example. Star Of Delusive Hopes is a great release that quite simply gives one a great time. It is not particularly demanding , challenging, or comes offering anything starkly new but the nine track epic album is just an irresistible and lively bundle of engaging metal to make it a more satisfying listen than many other offerings elsewhere lately.
Formed in 2002 in the city of Beer-Sheva by guitarist Max Shafranski, the band took more serious steps with the addition of vocalist Alexei Raymar and keyboard player Oleg Aryutkin a couple of years later. This same year saw the release of their demo The Way To Honor, followed in 2006 by their debut EP Prophecy Of The Madman, both bringing strong acclaim towards the band amongst the underground media. After a line-up change with the adding of Sergei Dmitrik, drummer Zohar Telor, and guitarist Sergei Nemichenister to the original members, Desert worked towards this first album. Through their formidable live shows and the release of Star Of Delusive Hopes via Greek label Sleaszy Rider the band and their stock grew and now with the album coming to the attention of the wilder world one can only see more praise and stronger ardent followers switching on to Desert.
The album was recorded in Italy with Nick Savio (White Skull, Cyber Cross) and subsequently mastered by Andy LaRocque, the -nominated guitarist of King Diamond, in his own Sonic Train studio in Varberg, Sweden. The songs within Star Of Delusive Hopes are themed with tales of great men and women who lived and gave everything for freedom and beliefs, the tracks all stories of lost hopes and betrayal and based on the likes of Giordano Bruno, Joan of Arc, the heroes of Massada siege, and unknown soldiers who fought and died in the fields of Russia. With this premise the album is surprisingly light and exuberant and though mighty in power does not bludgeon the senses at any point. The music of Desert is often tagged as power metal which is a strong feature but with elements of symphonic metal, folk metal and classic metal smoothly mixed in, the sound is a feisty and inviting hybrid. The likes of Moonspell, Hammers Of Misfortune, Rammstein and Tyr all come to mind as the songs with their theatrical grandeur envelope the ear with passion and gusto.
The album opens on one of the two best tracks on the release. The Unsubdued saunters in with a persistent addictive riff, excellent deep clean vocals from Raymar, and the keys of Aryutkin that wave with mesmeric grace from on high. The song spreads in to a rampaging feast for the ear, the guitars of Shafranski and Nemichenister taking control with incisive riffs and firm intensity whilst the rhythms of bassist Dmitrik and drummer Assaf Markowitz lead one into the addictive wealth within the song without needing to bring a brutality to the beckoning.
This song is matched by Victim Of The Light, the other song grabbing the tightest and deepest. As the keys sway and tease like an exotic dancer the riffs consume with muscle and eagerness whilst Raymar unveils the songs tale. With a flowing melodic charm the song wraps itself around the listener like a friend offering a warmth and surety along its length. This is merely a ruse as Desert then twist things, disturbing the safety with firstly a dramatic emotive vocal and piano aside soon joined by coarse growls and glorious discordant keys and a bedlamic intrusion. The song is a triumph and with the opener alone makes the album worth checking out.
The rest of the release is well worth the entrance fee too it should be noted, tracks like the enthused Letter Of Marque, the heart pumping Soul Of A Wanderer, and the impressive Lament For Soldier’s Glory (Order 227) featuring the additional vocals of , all leave one satisfied and grinning. Star Of Delusive Hopes as mentioned does not bring anything new to the table but against that there are not many other similar sounding bands that bring it with the skill and pleasurable energy as Desert either. A great time is guaranteed what more do you want?