Out of the ashes they surged in 2012, shaking off the rust from the wings of a dormant phoenix that had waited for years to have a sip of Lebanese metal glory. And heavily rewarded were they, with an entire generation eagerly awaiting the continuation of this journey, to quench their thirst and support a local band which looked so promising on its debut, yet couldn’t string it all together again until 2018, after almost all hopes of a new opus had been lost.
During this nail-biting uncertain period, an unusual recipe was being cooked in between Lebanon, Sweden, and California, with all sorts of flavors, aiming with it to hit back strongly, and right the wrongs of a very good first experimental record, by adding to it a pinch of maturity and meticulousness.
Concocted mostly by Danny Bou Maroun and Elia Monsef, “The Room”’s twelve tracks tell the story of a little girl by the name of Youmna Jreissati, who is constantly torn between her instinct, “Erosion”, played by Elia, and the perfect image she’s longing for, “Utopia”, who is belted out by the incredible Australian talent Michael Adam Mills, previously featured on Ayreon’s “The Theory of Everything”.
The concept album follows “The Girl” as she escapes from the society she’s uncomfortable living in, to create her own world after chasing her mightiest demons and fears. And boy does this girl deliver. Her emotional voice will pierce right to your soul, and you can’t but ask yourself at some point – as a symphonic metal fan – whether you’re listening to former Stream of Passion’s vocalist Marcela Bovio or not. Youmna plays her role to perfection, so does Elia, whose vocals have matured so much since “Ashes of the Reborn”. Add to these ingredients the notes Mills reach, and you’ll get a mighty dish where flavors entwine, emotions clash and spines shiver.
When it comes to the guests featured, it doesn’t stop here. Ostura have dug deep to reach out to some of the metal world’s biggest musicians. From the lands of Austria (Thomas Lang), to England (Dan Veall), the Netherlands (Arjen Anthony Lucassen), the Czech Republic (the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra), Turkey (Özgür Abbak), Italy (Marco Sfogli), and the US (Roger Smith, Nobuko Miyazaki), tunes blend together with those of a local oudist (Mohannad Nassar) and violinists (Yamane Al Hage, Jokine Solban), joining the band’s guitarist Alain Ibrahim and percussionist Alexander Abi Chaker, to create a rich and diverse atmosphere, most importantly a balanced one, which detaches this album and band from its Lebanese pairs.
Last but not least, the visuals on the record are remarkable; Charles Assaf’s touches to the artwork edges it tantalizingly close to reality and taking a final glance at the camera lens of the talented photographer Youssef Nassar, each band member poses proudly, knowing deep inside that they have fired on all cylinders on this one.
With “The Room”, Ostura have proven that being Lebanese is not limited to the borders of a country where musicians and artists struggle to be known and show the world what they’re capable of, but instead the band delivers beyond the oceans, producing a mesmerizing opus, frankly hard to top locally anytime soon, that will keep you hooked from the moment you enter the room, till you exit it.
Raising the standards of the scene, this record puts enormous pressure on local bands to push their limits and most importantly challenges them to touch new horizons. It boiled in the cauldron for almost 6 years, but Ostura’s new jewel is now finally ready to be served to its fans, on a plate of gold.
A well-deserved 87.5/100.
Highlights: The Room, Duality (both tracks are so, so good).
-By Fred Bteich
All Music, Lyrics, Production, Arrangement by Elia Monsef & Daniel Bou-Maroun
Youmna Jreissati – Vocals as the Girl
Elia Monsef – Vocals as Erosion, Charango, Additional Acoustic Guitar, Programming, Engineering, Media
Daniel Bou-Maroun – Piano, Keyboards, Orchestration, Programming, Cubase Operation, Premixing, Additional Percussions
Alain Ibrahim – Acoustic Guitar, Rhythm Guitars, Additional Guitar co-arrangements
Alexander Abi Chaker – Additional Percussions, Drum co-arrangements on tracks (1,2,4,5,8)
Michael Mills – Vocals as Utopia
Thomas Lang – Drums (Recorded in his home studio in LA, California, USA)
Dan Veall – Bass Guitar
Marco Sfogli – Lead Guitar on tracks (1,2,3,5,8,11)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Lead Guitar On track 9
Özgür Abbak – Lead Guitar on track 6
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Danny Bou-Maroun
The Lebanese Filmscoring Ensemble – Choirs, Strings Quartet
Yamane Al Hage – Violin Solo on tracks (3,8,9)
Jokine Solban – Violin Solo on track 2
Nobuko Miyazaki – Flutes on tracks (9,11)
Mohannad Nassar – Oud on tracks (5,10)
Roger Smith – Cello on tracks (1,10,12)
Mixed, Mastered and Re-Amped by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studio, Sweden
Alexandre Moreira – Editing
All Vocals, Piano, Violins, Percussions recorded at The Citadel, Dlebta, Lebanon
Visual concepts by Elia Monsef & Charles Assaf
Artwork, Digital painting, and Retouching by Charles Assaf
Photography by Youssef Nassar
Pre-order ‘The Room’ album: here.
Stream & Download ‘Deathless’ Single: here.
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