Released: 2000, Dobles Productions
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Over the past couple of years, Aghora has been generating a lot of interest from metal fans, due to the fact that ex-Cynic drummer Sean Reinert and bassist Sean Malone are part of the band. And rightly so, because their talents in the world of metal are surely missed. After much anticipation, the new album is finally available!
It has been six years since Cynic’s amazing Focus album was released. Since then, no one has come close to matching it in terms of style or feeling. Any diehard follower of Cynic will know that after their demise, the members went on to expand their sound with various bands, all of which never went beyond the demo stage. One of these bands, Portal, combined female vocals with a much more friendly and mainstream sound than Cynic. Aghora is the perfect cross between Cynic and Portal, sounding almost exactly like what Cynic would have sounded like a few years after the release of Focus. Aghora combines soft and soothing jazz rhythms with heavy guitar chugging and emotional, spiritual female vocals effectively throughout the album, making every listening experience a rewarding one--that is, if you’re in the mood for the lighter side of metal! You should know that Sean Reinert is one of the most amazing drummers out there, and he does well in Aghora. Not nearly as crazy as in Cynic, nor as aggressive as on Death’s Human, Sean still draws the listener in with his combination of metal and jazz playing. Sean Malone can be heard very clearly on this album too, and his playing is as great as ever! Guitarists Santiago Dobles and Charlie Ekendahl provide the other half of the sonic spectrum. And although two guitarists are present, sometimes it sounds like just one. It would be great to hear them go in drastically different directions once in a while, to add an interesting yet confusing dimension to the music. The best representation of their combination, however, is in “Existence”, where one plays clean guitar and the other plays harmony to the vocals. The lead guitar work could be a little less typical and flamboyant, and be more emotional and abstract. Regardless, their abilities are crucial in making Aghora sound the way they do. In fact, Santiago has written almost all of the music for the album. Of course, everyone has had his/her fair share of input, but do not expect the album to be Cynic Part II. Last and definitely not least, is vocalist Danishta Rivero. Without her, Aghora would not be nearly as spellbinding. Her range and melodies are very catchy and emotional. Put this album on, turn off the lights, and dream of far away places…
Interesting points on this album include the instrumental “Jivatma”, running over eleven minutes, which includes some guitar textures by former Cynic guitarist Jason Gobel. This track reminds me of Dream Theater’s “Bombay Vindaloo” off Live at the Marquee. And reworked a little differently than the 1998 demo, “Transfiguration” contains some sitar and jazzy drumming that bring to mind Frank Zappa’s Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar. And the other “instrumental”, “Anugraha”, shows that Danishta does not even have to sing words to make the songs sound great! This song features the sitar once again, and even has a Led Zepplin feel to it.
This album is not for everyone…many metal fans will find this album too soft. But if you’re a sucker for female vocalists that can actually sing (Anneke of The Gathering, for example), then Aghora is for you! Or, if you are looking for something new and fresh, then you may find Aghora of interest, for they are just that! Visit their web site at: http://www.doblesproductions.com/.