Friday, February 17, 2012

Big Ol' Jewish Update

Since Hops started things off with a bang, I—your humble Mosh—figure I couldn’t let the bang die just yet. You’ve already been given a treat with a multi-review, so how ‘bout another?  Only, I don’t want to overload your brew sensibilities, so how about a nice local (to Israel) brew, and then a double dose o’ metal? Sounds good? Yea—no? GTFO, you know you want it.


So, this review is going to be broken into two parts: the draft and the bottle.  By the end, it’s clear why (and why would you argue with me anyway?)


Goldstar is the local beer here in Israel. Every bar seems to have it, and everyone seems to drink it. Labeled as “Our Original Taste…”, Goldstar makes me think that Israel might have something going on. Goldstar is a dark lager. There is a slightly dry sharpness to it, and the bitterness present in a lot of lagers is not found in Goldstar. It’s not a very full-bodied beer, neither does it taste like it is watered down in any way. This mildness, tempered with its sharp, dry nature allows for an easier consumption of multiple pints (myself, my boss, and one of my co-workers knocked out four or five pints in one sitting once we arrived in Israel). Also of note:  this is a good barbeque beer. Believe it or not, there are quite a few American styled grills in Israel, and the perfect companion to some killer wings or a behemoth burger is definitely Goldstar.

But, wait!  There’s more!

Bottle - 6

What the hell?? Who gave me Budweiser (if that offends you, then you need to pay really close attention to everything we say…ever)? Goldstar—when poured from a bottle—while retaining its body and smooth (maybe) consistency, gains a bitterness. This bitterness, coupled with the sharpness, make it very uneasy drinking for a picky beer drinker. And that, honestly, ruins it. The bottle gives it a cheap domestic Americana taste, and it doesn’t pair well with anything. Give me back my draft!!

**I spoke to the clerk at the music store (see below review) and he says that the above is pretty much how Israel feels about Goldstar. It is a great beer; better draft than from the bottle. And, I quote, “In Israel, we sit around and complain about how bad everything is, but Goldstar is great:  no complaining!”

Okay, so in keeping with the Israeli theme, here’s a good band to check out while you’re consuming that Goldstar:  Orphaned Land. For those of you that don’t know who Orphaned Land are, they are a progressive metal band out of Israel (uh, duh…sorry). Orphaned Land are progressive metal with death elements (vocals and some—but not much—music) and a lot of Middle Eastern musical elements interwoven. Their albums are usually concept albums, revolving around usually Jewish and Muslim themes. Today, we’re going to take a look at two of their albums—their most recent, "The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR" and "Mabool:  The Story of the Three Sons of Seven".  Holy hell, that was a mouthful!


"Mabool:  The Story of the Three Sons of Seven" - 8.5

Ok, so these guys seem a bit pretentious at first, but once you get past the long-winded title, there’s some real meat to this. “Mabool” is a very tight progressive album. Its longest song clocks in at around 9:20, so there’s no listing to be found within the confines of this album. Even though there never seems to be a lot going on, what we have throughout this album are some very tight riffs as well as hook-laden songs. These songs are very structurally diverse:  the story of the flood is woven together with two sets of distinct vocals (powerful and predominant clean vocals offset by pissed-off-God-like vocal growling) and an interesting use of keyboards (at times very much background melodies, other times the driving force of the songs). At times, “Mabool” comes off feeling like an early Dream Theater album, at other times it drifts into the “What if Max Cavelera and Mikael Åkerfeldt had an Israeli love child?” territory. Like any good cultural album, this one makes good use of Middle Eastern rhythms, and a female singing in the native tongue. All of this lends to the depth of the Mabool album.  My only complaint is that the death vocals could be a little more frequent (God is pissed at this point in time, after all).
*Standout Tracks:  A Call to Awake, The Kiss of Babylon

"The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR" - 8

So, for the second round, we have …ORwarriOR. Yes, just because they didn’t want to be any less pretentious with their title this time around.  Once again, we have a tight progressive metal concept album, this time telling the story of God’s chosen warrior. We still have a good use of riffs and hooks, but this time around there is more of a precise feel of the rhythm in the times changes, and song shifts. It is slightly reminiscent of Opeth. The middle eastern elements shine through more in the melodies and instrumentals on this album. Even though it starts to lose focus a little past the middle mark, Orphaned Land manage to bring themselves back for an explosive finish.  Oh, did I say that Mabool didn’t use the growls enough? Well, …ORwarrOR fixes that. The vocal balance is actually nicely perched in the middle of the scale. There is a definite balance vocally on the album. For a nice bonus, the tour edition that I picked up out here comes with a bonus disc with one new song, two demos, and two instrumental workings.
*Standout Tracks:  Operation: Uprising, From Broken Vessels

****A big thank you goes to Arye, at The Eighth Note (Hatav Hasmini).  He found the Orphaned Land cd’s for me and gave me his insight on Goldstar.  So, I’d like to leave you with another of Arye’s quotes:  “It’s easy to be despot in small country.”  So true, Arye, so true.  Remember folks, keep your despotism small, and you’ll easily conquer your own little world.

- Mosh

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