No One's Words

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Although progressive rock reached its commercial peak in the 1970s, it has continued to enjoy an enthusiastic cult following in the 21st century -- and not just among people who are 40 and older. New prog rock bands, whose members aren't old enough to remember the '70s, continue to be formed -- some in North America, some in Europe. But Ephrat is a 21st century prog rock band that isn't from either North America or Europe; Ephrat are from Israel, and Middle Eastern music is an appealing, albeit subtle, influence on their debut album, No One's Words. The Middle Eastern influence isn't something that Ephrat beat listeners over the head with, but it is present nonetheless. In contrast to the prog rock bands that were formed in the '90s or 2000s but go out of their way to emulate '60s and '70s bands, Ephrat draw inspiration from different eras. Old-school prog icons like King Crimson and Pink Floyd are influences on this 2008 release, but Ephrat have also been influenced by the alternative rock of the '90s and 2000s. Some of the guitars are, on occasion, downtuned in an overtly alternative way, and female singer Petroncella Nettermalm Paatos (who isn't an actual member of Ephrat but makes a guest appearance on "Haze") certainly doesn't sound like a member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Kansas, or Yes; rather, Paatos' singing ranges from a darkly angelic goth-influenced approach to an Alanis Morissette-ish cackle -- definitely not something singers were doing on prog albums back in 1974. Most of the lead vocals, however, are provided by Ephrat member Lior Seeker -- and Seeker, like his colleagues, draws inspiration from the '60s and '70s as well as from more recent decades. No One's Words is slightly inconsistent, but all things considered, this 59-minute CD is a promising and well-crafted debut from these Israeli prog rockers.

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