Turbulence is a new Lebanese Progressive band which started in 2013. The band consists of guitar rising talent Alain Ibrahim (ex-Monarchy) who teamed up with Mood Yassin (Ex-Amadeus Awad) and started a theatrical dream of becoming a leading progressive band in Lebanon, and soon the world. To complete the project, they recruited Owmar EL-Hage on vocals, Charles Bou Samra on Bass, and Sayed Gereige on drums. Unfortunately, Charles and Sayed were recruited after the album was recorded; however, they are now a driving force in the band, and they will be performing the album during the album release on July 3rd.
The album is composed of six tracks, and this review aims to tackle each composition on its own and see where it stands up. Did their debut album live up to expectations?
Track By Track:
Track 1 – Hypnagogia
The opening instrumental track made me think of a deadly game of cat and mouse, the whole ambiance and the interplay of keyboards leave an eerie mark on the listener, and certainly the crescendo at the one-minute mark does not help in soothing me and sets the ambiance for the album, dark and ethereal. The guitar towards the end leaves off at a hopeful note, but we are then thrust into the chaotic world of Richardson’s Nightmare.
Track 2 – Richardson’s Nightmare
Starting with a heavy metal guitar riff, the song pulls us back into the nightmare after the hopeful endnote of Hypnagogia. The band then uses a clever technique mastered by both Floyd and The Beatles, where the riff bounces off from one ear to the next. Drums roll in, along with space sounds. As the title suggests, the lyrics focus on the nightmarish experiences of Richardson. As the second chorus closes, the drums gain dominance and the fine work of Simon Ciccotti is revealed, delivering captivating beats, but never without Mood Yassin’s amazing keys. This is the best song on the album, as we see more of Turbulence in this than any other song, and every instrument gets its own moment of spotlight in this nightmare. Really, who could forget that phone ring towards the end? (Richardson’s Nightmare Demo)
Track 3 – Never Let Me Go
A surprisingly different tone from the beginning of the album, as the song is melodic and softer. The guitars on this track are nothing short of amazing, and it’s one of the few tracks where the band gets the feel right, the tone and spirit. On the rest, the band focuses on the technical aspect of the songs, which detract from them. This song is where Owmar’s vocals find their perfect match, with a bit of a struggle on low notes, and I think it may be because of the focus on the spirit of the song. Truly a fitting single, as the song ends by segueing into the next one. (Listen Here)
Track 4 – Everlasting Retribution
The lyrics are a well-written dialogue between a man and his parents, featuring guest vocalists Will Shaw and Rita Hokayem as the father and mother respectively. The guitar solo directly after the third father verse is the work of a genius. However, problems start entering once the lyrics end. The drums start off good and I think, wow another drum solo. However, soon we realize the song turns into a blatant Dream Theater sound-alike, from the guitar riffs to the keyboards (that manage a pitch perfect imitation of Jordan Rudess’s keys). This begins to outline the problems with the album, as the band struggle to find their own sound. But before getting to the next track, I want to bow before Will’s power-packed performance on this song.
Truly, hats off.
Track 5 – My Darkest Hour
The problem with this song is that on many occasions the music screams “Dream Theater (DT)”, but the opening vocals, that sound like echoes of James LaBrie’s at the beginning, soon change to what I consider Owmar’s best performance on the album with a very enjoyable vocal line. Then we get an interesting segment with “Turbulence” written all over it, but we end up interrupted at the 2-minute mark by another Dream Theater-ish riff. We see something of what they are able to pull off with the saxophone solo and the keyboards, but once again at the lyrics’ queue, we go back to DT mode. At the seventh minute, we are reminded yet again who influenced the keyboards. But in general, this track is very well composed that you can never realize that the song length is actually 10 minutes unless you read it.
Track 6 – Disequilibrium
The 15-minute long title track puts us back into the ambiance of Hypnagogia, running full circle. A cinematic song with very clever lyrics, tying into the sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming theme of the album and features a tug of war between the man’s conscious and sub-conscious. However, at the middle of the second minute, DT mode is back on again. The vocals were very well done on this song, as we can hear a different sound by Guest Vocalist Elia Monsef from what we are used to; it’s more disciplined and suits him best even though it sounded at many points like Sir Russell Allen which detract a bit from the identity of Elia’s voice.
I like how at the sixth minute we break back into “reality” (when you hear it, you’ll know what I am talking about). The whole sequence is cleverly woven and a definite highlight, especially with the great drums at the end of the episode. Another amazing solo by Alain Ibrahim, and the saxophone was out of this world. In the song’s last minute, the guitar and drums switch back to DT mode, but, nonetheless, an incredible head-banging ending to the album.
Although the album has issues with finding its own sound, especially in the latter half, no one can deny that Turbulence have with this album created great music, which I would listen to again and again. However, you cannot overlook the fact that the band’s influences have done more than influence in this album. The band needs to break free of its influences and create music from its own well of ideas, which we have already seen happen in other areas. However, no one can doubt the sheer potential, superb musicianship, or technicality of the band, making Turbulence one of the best new acts out there.
- High level of composition and arrangements.
- Amazing Guitars and Keyboards.
- Tremendous Drumming by Simon and Luca Ciccotti
- The mixing is poor and could have been done in a better way. Remixing and re-mastering are a must if any future international releases are to be considered.
- The lyrics are mostly weak and overreaching.