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Ask anyone from the metal fraternity to name an Israeli genre band and, chances are, Orphaned Land will be uttered more often than not. However, there are numerous other bands plying their art within the confines of what is, seemingly, a fertile underground scene in said Middle Eastern country. Ferium is one such act and, unlike Israeli metal hegemonists Orphaned Land, eschew musical influences of their homeland in favour of a more Western bias. They're also one of a rare few Israeli metal bands to reach beyond the parameters of their locality by taking their music to stages around Europe on a couple of tours as main support to Canadian innovative metallers The Agonist.

Formed in 2006 as a Pantera/Lamb of God covers band, three years later saw Ferium switch from metal mimicry to creative originality, and 'Reflections', their debut full-length release was unleashed just last year. Produced by one of the band's guitarists, Elram Boxer, and mastered by the eminent and ubiquitous Jens Bogren, 'Reflections' has a hard-hitting, resonant sound, if a little raw around the edges. However, that rawness, which could be construed as a pleasingly organic quality, works in the music's favour. Technical death infused with both dissonant and euphonic melodies is Ferium's general aesthetic, so the organic sonics provide a nice, almost 'live' quality to the recordings that avoid the trappings of an over-produced, clinical record. As such, the abundance of technicality on offer within the compositions sounds natural rather than forced. The drums, in particular, sound very 'real', rather than succumbing to an over-zealous use of triggers and Pro Tools polish.

The musicianship is of a high quality here. Guy Goldenberg and Elram's guitars excel at both riffage and lead breaks. And the latter are kept to a refreshing minimum - while both players are discernibly more than capable, there are no gratuitous, flashy displays of solo widdling. Instead, lead guitar parts are integrated into the songs rather than dominating them at any point. Yoni Biton's bass lines, while sometimes quasi-latent in the mix, shine at key moments with some inventive runs. Ron Amar's drumming is wonderfully varied and energetic - this is no blast-beat led extremity, despite the 'extreme' essence of the music. He manages to infuse songs with all kinds of rhythmically interesting patterns and fills - on occasion, his fills are reminiscent of the great Steve Flynn. Then there are Tiran Ezra's death growls, which are incisively effective throughout and with enough tonal variance and expression to elevate him above your standard, two-dimensional growler.

A word about the cover art too, which is rather eye-catching. The band have spared no expense here by recruiting prolific artist Eliran Kantor, whose extensive credits include album illustrations for a wide range of bands from British progressive metallers To-Mera and Xerath right up to scene stalwarts such as Atheist, Sigh, Sodom, Testament and Iced Earth. All in all, while Ferium's debut has been a long time in the making, they've evidently put their heart and soul into this first recorded full-length offering - Kantor's art, Bogren's mastering and, most importantly, the songwriting and performances of the musicians themselves. Incredibly impressive for a debut, I must say.
Review by Mark Holmes
10th Nov 2014
1) By the Book
2) DownHill from Nothing
3) The Very Existance
4) Mirror
5) Side Effects
6) The Black Eyes
7) Lust Fool
8) Caustic Value
9) Change of Winds
10) Business on Demand
11) Blood; 12) Reflections
"...while Ferium's debut has been a long time in the making, they've evidently put their heart and soul into this first recorded full-length offering..."