Individual­istic Isrealis laugh in the face of defining labels.

- GM

Any genre descriptio­n for Of Clans And Clones And Clowns would be somewhat misleading. This Isreali collective’s second outing comes seven years after their debut, but it’s clearly been time well spent. It intriguing­ly mixes and melds numerous influences around its melodic power metal core, from musical theatre to Middle Eastern folk and the distinctly bizarre. No selfimport­ant, po-faced musicians here either – Soul Enema embrace quirk and aren’t afraid to fool around, as tracks like Cannibalis­simo Ltd. or The Age Of Cosmic Baboon ably demonstrat­e. Especially given the prevalence of guitar riffing meeting folk instrument­s, a point of reference might be Ayreon – apt then that Arjen Lucassen pops up in Eternal Child throwing in a terrific guitar solo. If this musical smorgasbor­d prospect is off-putting, for more “mainstream” symphonic rock/prog metal head directly to the potent yet undeniably characterf­ul Aral Sea threesong suite, featuring a guest contributi­on from Orphaned Land’s Yossi Sassi. Main vocalist Noa Gruman is hugely impressive and a major star of the show, displaying enormous command and flexibilit­y throughout. It’s a terrific album that embodies a free, creative prog spirit.

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