Canadian heavy prog engineers bring forth the first fruit of their lockdown efforts for all to savor.
“Derev” means “leaf” in Armenian, the language which Armando Bablanian and Michel Karakach happen to speak, as the two had discovered when they attended high school in Kuwait, although it was music, rather than heritage, that brought the guitarist and drummer together and let them take a leaf out of heavy prog textbook to form a band – after the former returned home, to Toronto, the latter immigrated to Canada from Syria and bassist Liam Horrigan join the friends there. “Leap Of Faith” is the trio’s debut, and they prefer to see it as an EP, although back in the day a 36-minute, 8-track record would be considered a full-length album, and its completeness suggests so too, whereas their music stylistic slant – prog metal laced with Middle Eastern motifs – should find DEREV share a shallow niche with ORPHANED LAND. Still, this offering’s refined fury will put the little ensemble on the maps of many a fan and gain them a future.
Unfortunately, the players, contradicting the platter’s title, seem to doubt any prophecies and afraid to influence others, as the entrancing groove and enchanting tune caught in the crossfire of heavy ferocity and soft passages of “Futile” might indicate, yet the sharp riffs of “Turab” which emerge from a short intro “Tunnel Vision” are infectious enough for the initiated to flock towards the trio’s alluring gloom – especially when six-string assault abates to leave the voice alone with rhythm section only for all the instruments to stage a faux-orchestral sway. And once the vocal harmonies get wrapped around anxious pulse to infuse “Delayed” with expectancy, the murk is lifted and organ swirl unravels the band’s spiritual core before hypnotic twang pours magic into this heady melodic mix.
That’s why the magnificent serenade “Slipping Down Again” feels so sweet in its delicate, but robust, interplay until soaring solo elevate the dramatic piece to wuthering heights, and that’s why the multicolored spectrum of spectral, ethically flavored epic “Ghost Of Guilt” looks so logical. What will also be logical is this impressive first mini-album follow-up: if the trio manage to retain the momentum, their proper proposition promises to turn out a massive work of art.