Baht is a Turkish band that aims to create, according to their website "a sound progressive and oriental at the same time not stereotypic(al)". What does that mean? Probably that they want to create fairly original progressive oriental death metal music. Again, consulting the same source, "this album has been created with the combination of oriental, progressive and death metal themes". Have they succeeded? Absolutely. Is this a masterpiece of epic proportions? Not really. Is it a fairly good prog melodeath album? You bet. Especially when you consider that this is a self-released debut.
Musically, "In My Veins" is one of the best progressive melodeath metal albums of last 7 years. As a melodeath band, Baht has a hell of a lot more to offer than Dark Tranquillity, In Flames or Soilwork since 2005 (no offense to DT and IF). Songs are very well written, detailed and catchy as SARS disease. The variety within and between tracks is excellently balanced, recalling, well, Edge of Sanity or the aforementioned DT, but I hear some My Dying Bride-style melody ("Dua") that reminds me of "Edenbeast" ("The Light at the End of the World"), one of my favorite MDB compositions.
The production is fantastic but Dan Swanö (of the aforementioned Edge of Sanity and Bloodbath) is guaranteed to make your metal sound to the best of its potential. Guitars are plenty heavy and aggressive, although I understand that some may consider them too clean for death metal. The riffs are some of the freshest power chords I heard recently by any band. You know what I mean? How many times have you heard a variation, fast or slow, of the main "Attitude" (Sepultura, "Roots") riff by your favorite band this year alone? Baht shows that metal can still sound fresh and sporting riffs that seem to have been written for the "Classic Riffs Annals" where "Smoke on the Water", "Back in Black" or "Enter Sandman" normally reside, and the little black Ex-metallica-sounding opening chord of "Neden?" is case in point.
It appears, then, that it's all awesome and you should flood www.bahtband.com with thousands of orders for the CD copies? Not exactly. See, as mentioned by my esteemed colleague and Imhotep top executive in his review, the vocals of the guitarist Bilgehan Engin are "one-dimensional", as he put it here. That's one way of putting it. Another would be to simply say they suck ass. However, the truth is somewhere in between. The problem is not simply "great music, shitty vocals" but that Engin growls in the SAME key throughout the entire album, with the few exceptions where he employs shy cleans somewhere between melodeclamation and whisper ("Lost & Found"). Shit you not, it is as though he sings one line and then, using pro tools and cut and paste "technology" multiplies it throughout the album. It's actually worse than a broken record because you don't get to hear the part where it skips. His growl(s) recall(s) Gorefest and the album "Erase" with the same dilemma: great music totally sabotaged by the vocals. The growls are a MAJOR distraction from the otherwise 6/6 release. In fact, had this been an instrumental record I would have unhesitatingly awarded it top score.
As it stands now, after a few listens, peculiar thing happens: you start tuning out the kickass riffs and creative musicianship and only notice the merciless (and not in the good way) growls. Mr. Engin, please get some vocal lessons from, say, Chuck Billy (Testament)! If the imposing Native American powerhouse of a voice, one of the most original in metal, sang on this record it would have been my album of the year. Well, maybe until new Testament.
You WILL disagree with my final score because of all my bitching, but, damn it, the MUSIC, the music is so good I cannot go any lower. I think "cookie monster with gigantic cookie stuck in his oesophagus, trying to cough it out" vocals penalty of one point is enough.
I want to recommend this but with one advice: see if you can isolate the vocals to one channel and turn that channel off. Now, THAT'S what I call progressive death metal!
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Dethster4life