One never knows where one will find Prog in the world but here we find it from the city of Chittagong in the southeastern region of Bangladesh with this band, “Bay of Bengal“. Discovery of this band was by pure fluke and absolutely unknown to me until I saw and asked, “What is this? The album cover is absolutely brilliant, haunting and disturbing all at the same time.” The city is better known for it’s coastal seaport and financial districts on the banks of the Karnaphuli River than it is for its musical exports but we will gladly take them as we can get them! What looks like characters from the first George Lucas film, “THX1138” being caged in rectangular tombs and two paper airplanes keeping watch one is led to be very curious to open Pandora’s box and have a listen inside to this without question. Aside from the fact that every song is being sung in Bangladeshi or a similar regional dialect we have no idea what they are about but we definitely know what kind of music it is! A little bit of searching had to be undertaken to find out all we could about this band and forget going to the Bat mobile on this one but to the internet and some Indiana Jones digging had to be performed here!
Bay of Bengal brings us the heavier side of Prog, very much like bands as; Abigail’s Ghost, Arabs in Aspic, Earth’s Yellow Sun, Godsticks, Lithium Dawn to name a few so to hear music from another part of the world outside from Europe, Scandinavia, North & South America doing some heavy Prog is awesome and a joy to bring to you here!
The album opens up with, “Alingon” a softened beautiful finger picking guitar accompanied by a wooden flute at first then the drums chime in creating an enchanting melody with a solid bass under tone. A sweet 2:10minute refrain that swings the gates open to a wonderful album and new music that rings out brilliantly here. “Nirob Durvikkho” the title track has a pleasant entrance like the welcoming of royalty to the palace garden as the music sings out with dreamy piano and synths, a calm bass line and swaying drums as the voice carries forth the message form the courtyard. Very Prog of them to throw this one in to the number two slot of the record as well! The presence of heavy guitars doesn’t disrupt the mood and adds flare and spice to the mix. The singer who also one of the guitarists has a great mid range voice that accentuates the tone of the music perfectly. The song has some great Prog elements in it where the melody, voice and timbre of the song build up and careen through the waves like a ship at high speeds splitting the waters left and right to ebb and flow behind in its wake sharply. The synthscapes are a great addition and the double bass gives the song a bit of heaviness and depth with its short bursts that are done very well. The vocals don’t break any highs or lows but stay in the pocket mid-range and a very well sung here. I really enjoy the tone of this singer’s voice because with a lot of music the instrumental aspect is amazing and you are loving it until the singer opens their mouth and shoots the entire mood down but not here, Bay of Bengal has a perfect blend of sound going for them and I must have listened to this album at least four or five times already. “Je Shohore Ami Ney“chime sin with a chugging riff of subtlety and the vocals have a great flange effect on them utilizing the Prog element of effects and creating a build up to a power metal riff like approach here with the woodwind flute as a solo instrument. This one has a 90’s metal feel to it but also not forgetting to add the synthscapes and tempo/timbre changes making all the more Prog here and vocally in the 90’s metal feel similar to Queensryche or Dream Theatre style where it’s not operatic but sung with emotion and intense feeling. The harmonies here are spot on tight and the double tracked guitar solo bleeds through with ferocity but not overkill and trails off like the vapor trails from a jet engine at high altitude. Facetting the song in to many styles in to one song here is stunning as they use effects in short segments as to not over kill it and place their solos strategically to engage the listener at the precise moment they want.
“Mrittur Vugol” fades in with a smash and jumps in to a dirty guitar riff that has you wanting to add this one to your highway mix playlist right away. The start/stop guitar play here is key to the song’s power and the bouncing on water feel to the vocals add spice and signal to the song’s intention as the bass line is solid and driving like a steam roller heading straight down the street without stopping. The tempo/timbre changes here are well placed again and the band doesn’t miss a beat attacking the song and adding in a solid mid neck guitar solo in the second position that has the definitive Jimi Hendrix fuzz tone to it. Thew drums are killer here and take no prisoners as they hammer down the walls and break new grounds for the track’s overall heavy presence. The vocals here in spots have a very Johnny Clegg singing speed to them in the faster parts where you want to replay the song to see what you just missed. “Akashey” commences with a beautiful piano and wooden flute introduction having you completely lost in the serene and calm landscapes of Bangladesh’s lush mountainous ranges and deep fields. The triplet feel to the drums give the song a nice upswing feel to it as the song carries and whisks you away to another part of the world you have only dreamed about. The songs has Prog elements here where they build up to a heavy ensemble of might and power through music as the song reaches it’s zenith with a scaling guitar solo that brings the song full circle and to height where the vocals soar along with the guitar as the synths, bass and drums all clamour together to bring the great winds and thunderous applause of the storm ahead of them. This track sings of high adventure and throws you upon the winds of mercy and unforgiving at the same time to only cut you off at a stand point stop to the song making you want more and more right now!
“Bisharoder Vire” smacks you right in the face from the last song’s stopping point with this sky cracking track that brings in more regional intruments to add spice and Eastern essence to it as the juggernauts through the track with a supreme beast of musicianship here as it shifts gears and goes form heavy to lighter fare and back again with one fell swept move of the hands playing. What sounds like mandolins has a lead solo here creating another Prog element of bringing in “outside” instruments to the track to give it dynamics and diversity that’s outside the box especially for North American audiences to which I don’t think many if not a few outside of us reading here would have even heard of this band. “Opare” begins with a slow theatrical entrance of a story being told from days of old as the guitar winds its way around the slow grinding bass line and vocals that regale the tale to the listener. The power ballad as it would be called is ever so present here and it glows in the brightness of the definition itself as the guitar moans and stretches the notes through the sky as the song waves through the lands and cuts the air to a soft landing by the end of the song. Not as Prog as the other tracks but you can’t be full on Prog for every song and this was a brilliant example of the band showing that they are able to play the power ballad well and to bring a different type of song to the record. “Mishe Jay Maa” saunters in with a sweet piano and vocal duet bringing us the sweet refrain of the two combined to create the scene of another dream world filled with soft clouds and gentle waters in what sounds like a love song that sways and fills in with some calming synthscapes and more of the wooden flute (a recorder of sorts) to allow us to relax and soothe the nerves that have been shaken by their furious reign of massive sounds prior. Here again the band showcases their ability to be gentle as well as ravenous musically. The back drop onset of a heavy guitar track gives segue to the solo that is accompanied by a harmony track that could have a chorus of people singing but they kept it within the band which is a wonderful aspect to their dynamic and says they all work well together. The song doesn’t stray out of its comfort zone and keeps within the confines of the ballad and is a beautiful piece of music displayed here to offset the balance of the record giving it an even greater dynamic to their repertoire.
“Vebe Nio Achi” has the calm piano intro here again, a common theme for the band but it helps create a signature sound to their music as the vocals swoon over top of it. This one again comes in with their calmer themes and could very well be a wonderful wedding song with the way it sways and graces the air waves of your room. The band thematically designed the album to start off light go heavy then back to the lighter fare in a very Prog way of doing things. It can be argued that they are not full on Prog but Prog enough with having many of the elements of the genre present and executing their songs with a determination and whole hearted approach of being unique to which they clearly are. Just under four minutes this song sweeps you off your feet and to another dreamworld like being carried on a cloud. “Ovishopto Shoishob” has the similar entrance but with some well played guitar finger picking here and the recorder to which the name of it eludes me still that i will remember at 2am no doubt. This final song on the record and another quiet passage of well performed musicianship both through instruments and vocals picks up almost at the halfway point to a grooving rocker leaving behind the soft serene passages to the wind as they take us higher again to complete the journey they have presented us with sound both exotic and common. They pull out some great Prog elements here with the start/stop and tempo/timbre changes along with some spoken word bits thrown in during the interlude to snap back in to the track and keep the machine going. The song winds down to the recorder and synthscapes and finally with the spoken word from a child to close out the album.
Bay of Bengal have certainly gotten their feet wet here with their debut record and it’s a great first album for them giving us many different styles and sounds to their music and coming from a part of the world that is not well known in North America musically aside from pockets of communities where their culture is present to which the food and culture is divine I must say, we have a mass multicultural melting pot in Toronto that includes Bangladeshi culture and food and now the music of Bay of Bengal is added to that and to your communities as well I am happy to say! They are well on their way in to the genre and their musical career. They’ve done some covers of a couple of songs by American metal band, Megadeth but I feel that they will keep their roots in their native instruments and Prog elements in the heavy dept of the genre and with all the best to them in their future endeavours they will be successful as a group with many more albums to come! Enjoy.