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Hamka - Unearth 4/5

Reviewed: 6-16-06


1. Buried roots
2. Ignition
3. Ghosts of desert
4. Sand glass
5. Eyes of twilight part 1
6. Eyes of twilight part 2
7. Rising atlantis
8. Eden garden
9. Seventh sea's sky
10. Legend empire part 1
11. Legend empire part 2
12. Re-vo-lu-ti-on
13. An end on earth?
14. Eden garden (bones track)

It's probably safe to assume that those who are well into the power metal genre have heard of female vocalist Elisa Martin, whose past experience with Dark Moor and present experience with Fairyland and Dreamaker have made her one of the most recognizable vocalists out there. So it was no surprise when I learned she was a part of yet another band, Hamka. But what is surprising is how great Hamka's full-length debut 'Unearth' is and also how unique it is, truly in a different musical direction than any of the other 3 bands.

What we get with Hamka is a collection of talented musicians (including guitarist Willdric Lievin also of Fairyland) that have created a sound that incorporates progressive, symphonic and atmospheric elements into the power metal style we all love. These elements (and most specifically the atmospheric parts) remind me of some of what Conception, Kamelot and Angra have done in the past, especially with percussion. But the way that Hamka mixes everything up will be refreshing to many fans of power metal in general and especially those who are die-hard fans of Elisa's vocals.

Many highlights make up 'Unearth', but track 2 "Ignition" (which follows the short intro "Buried roots"), the lengthy track 3 "Ghosts of desert" and the ultra-catchy track 4 "Sand glass" all make for a fantastic start. The CD consists of many changes in tempo and emotion though, so the slow instrumental "Eyes of twilight part 1" (track 5, which really shows off the Angra-like percussion), the atmospheric track 7 "Rising atlantis" and the ballad-type track 8 "Eden garden" are all great as well. Along with the mentioned "Sand glass", track 9 "Seventh sea's sky" and track 11 "Legend empire part 2" are definitely some of the best on the CD, as they've got the speed, melody and chorus needed to create an exceptional power metal song.

If you've been skeptical in the past regarding Elisa's vocals, now may be the time to dive and hear her at one of her best moments. She's never been one of my favorite female vocalists, but her voice (probably somewhere in the mid-range) fits power metal very well. Still, it's probably the music that makes this CD as great as it is and I'm sure she's happy to be a part of a band that will hopefully provide us with more CDs in the future. Highly recommended!




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