Observations Through Metamorphosis

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Back in the late ’90s through the mid ’00s, The End Records were one of the more innovative and progressive metal labels around. They were releasing ground breaking metal albums from acts like Arcturus, Age of Silence, Scholomance, Green Carnation and Agalloch… the list goes on. In 2004 the label released a 3-song teaser EP from one of its own, Tomer Pink (who worked for The End Records) and his project Subterranean Masquerade. It also featured Jake Depolittle, Paul Kuhr of label mates Novembers Doom, Tino Losicco of label mates Epoch of Unlight and Jason William Walton of Agalloch, also label mates.

Then in 2005, a full length album Suspended Animation Dreams dropped and is was a masterful progressive metal album, feauturing a host of guest musicians playing mandolins, Hammond organs, strings and brass. But alas it was the last we would hear from Pink and co until late last year when Pink reformed the band with Kuhr and a bunch of newcomers, including Green Carnation vocalist Kjetil Nordhus. The end result is The Grand Bazaar, a mesmerizing, enthralling and absorbing display or progressive metal that hearkens to The End’s glory days and delivers a lavish, sumptuous, Middle Eastern swathed sonic tapestry.

My relationship with Tomer goes back many years when I wrote CD blurbs for the The End Records distro way back then, and he did PR work for the label. So I was delighted when he reached out to me to cover the magnificent new record and an inteview was born…

So what have you been up to for the last decade? Was Subterranean Masquerade on hold or simply dead in that time?

It was dead alright [laughs] — I wasn’t thinking of doing another Subterranean Masquerade album at all. it was kind of bitter sweet as I kept on getting all those e-mails from people wondering where the hell are we but I had to put the feeling away. I was so discouraged from making Suspended Animation Dreams and everything that happened to me while doing it that I just turned my back to the all thing. Music always have the highest priority for me and I enjoy the heavy music aside of many other genres, I started this folk rock band and recorded 3 albums that never released, studied to work in a recording studio, spent my night and days on stages across the country doing back line and PA engineering and had to go through the usual spin of traveling, getting marriage and start a family. so you can say I spent the last decade doing just that.

What made you want to release another Subterranean Masquerade album after so long?

That was actually very unexpected. At some point I grabbed a guitar and the all thing just happened.

How did this line up come about? Is this a steady line up or will Subterranean Masquerade continue to rotate guests and such?

I sure hope that this is a steady line up. This is the first time Subterranean Masquerade functions as a full band and not just a project and the feeling is great. As for the line up, I played with Or & Golan with my folk rock band, Shai is playing in a great progressive metal band name Solstice Coil, I admired Kjetil work for the last decade or so and Paul been with us since the very beginning. Facebook makes the word available with a press of a button so you can talk to almost everyone as long as you are not shy :-)

There is even more of a Middle Eastern vibe on the new album than on your EP and the 2005 album. Part of the increase in Middle Eastern players?

I’ve been traveling a lot the last few years and learn to enjoy music and instruments come from so called “exotic” places. It was natural to me to add them to the orchestration of the new Subterranean Masquerade tracks as well as “Home” EP. I guess that living in Israel has its effect as well, those instruments are more common here and you can hear them on a daily basis.

How important was it to have Paul Kuhr back for the new album?

Paul been with us since the beginning. I contacted him when I first thought about recording new Subterranean Masquerade tunes and I admit I might wouldn’t go on with this if he wasn’t into the idea. I have a great deal of respect for him, as a friend as well as a musician and I’m happy he finds the time and the energy doing this.

And then on top of that get Green Carnation’s Kjetil Nordhus involved too. How did that come about? I actually remember you promoting the hell out of Green Carnation when you did PR for The End Records.

Yes, I did worked my ass promoting “Light of day, day of darkness“, I love this album and happy I got to be a part of this. I got in touch with Kjetil during the recording of THE GREAT BAZAAR. he came to Israel with Tristania and we have mutual friends as well. At some point I asked him if he was interested to participate in the new album and we ended up having a week together recording, hanging out and even doing a small acoustic set opening for Orphaned Land in a museum.

Speaking of The End  Records. You were part of the glory years when they were releasing so much great metal. What are your thoughts on the End Records and their roster nowadays?

I can’t really tell as I am not familiar with most of their roster nowadays. I know the old ones of course, such as Novembers Doom & Age of Silence. I worked at The End Records for 5 years and saw it growing from a small warehouse in my living room to a monster of a record label and distribution. It’s nice to see and I hope Andreas and the guys are still putting out music they believe in artistically.

There was a host of guest musicians on the 2005 album. Who helped out for The great Bazaar?

The line up was Or Shalev (guitars), Golan Farhi (bass), Shai Yallin (keyboards), Matan Schmuley (drums), Kjetl  & Paul to begin with. Each came with his own input and ideas and this what shaped The Great Bazaar to the album it is. Although I write all the music the arrangements and production is a team work of all of us and for me it’s really exciting.  I work as a PA sound engineer and as a recording studio engineer so I get to meet many different musicians, some of them ended up contributing to the album. Another fellow musician who have a big part on this album is Orphaned Land‘s singer Kobi Farhi. This is actually the third time Kobi recording guest vocal for Subterranean Masquerade and it is always a pleasure working with him.

So with this line up can we expect some sort of tour support for the album?

Oh hell yes! We are working on a live set as we speak. A set featuring tracks from Suspended Animation Dreams, as well as Home & The Great Bazaar plus other surprises and guest appearances. I have big dreams and already working with a light designer programming the set all in advance, I’m hoping to have the budget to include few of those Middle Eastern / violin musicians that are featured in the album.

The album is simply amazing! There are obvious Pink Floyd and Orphaned Land -hues… what other artists inspired the album? 

Hard to say as I usually avoid music while making a record. I am always into ’70s progrock as well as modern progressive metal. I loved the last Haken record and the last two The Pineapple Thief and Anathema records. I get my dose of Beck Sea Change album at least twice a month and can’t have enough of Katatonia, elbow and old school death metal.. so I guess you mix all the above, add some world music influences and you get our new album [laughs]

Talk a little  bit about the album’s concept of a boy leaving home and traveling. Any parallels to your personal life?

I always write about things that important to me so I guess it’s possible to find a resemblance to my personal life. The main theme in The Great Bazaar is about a man who is waking up to another boring day in life and decides to go to a travel both physical and spiritual. As someone who is addicted to traveling with my guitar, I can say that this is something that is very close to my heart. It is India where I found the peace and inspiration. That place is so different from any other place I’ve been to and traveling there is almost like watching the strangest bizarre movie. No crazy director there though, it’s just the place itself.  I wrote all the text of the album while traveling there last year.

The spiritual section of the album is the battle between the so called “responsible” and the “evil” side of man, the later one is that force dragging you to make crazy decisions that can be easily regretted not long after, I guess that the mix of battling this and the crazy world out there makes the concept of the album.

What’s next? Not another 10 year wait I hope?

Now it’s all about pushing The Great Bazaar, this album deserve to be played everywhere and we have such a great line up that I can’t wait spending nights and days touring together. as of new album I’m already deep into demoing new songs and I hope to get the all thing ready for recording in the summer or early 2016. the new material rocks and I can’t wait until it get recorded.

Thank you very much for this great interview and support! Enjoy THE GREAT BAZAAR!





  1. Commented by: Andy

    The album is fantastic.
    Hope they play it live in Tel Aviv.
    Cheers and thanks for this interview.

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