(23 May 2009) With a revised lineup and new name, the Israeli rock band Manga are back with an all new EP both under the moniker Align. Fronted by the stunning Yael Akron, the band lineup today is completed by Manga stalwart Tal Vaisman (guitars, vocals) and newcomer Maayan (Banan) Henik (drums). Their new self-titled EP is comprised of five well-produced tracks. With fantastic artwork, the EP is also superbly packaged.
When Yael and Tal committed to moving to the United States, Chen Teibloom (bass) and Alon Kaplan (keyboards) left the band to pursue other interests. As Manga until recently, as photos at their website clearly illustrate, the band played Tel Aviv's most popular rock venues--including The Barbie, Koltura and Sublime--continually. Align's live performances are rounded out by Yoni Oren (bass) while live keyboards are replaced with computer programming which characterizes the band's new sound. In addition to developing their style significantly, the band have also made the lyrical switch from Hebrew to English.
The five tracks on the new EP depart from the band's Evanescence-sounding roots in texture, intensity and angular dynamic. While the hook of "My Secret Truth" drew significant interest on the former band's unreleased album Vacuum, on Israel Unleashed and in their live performances, Align have evolved the sound with Tal's heavier "kick-ass" style guitar work and additional vocal work complimenting Yael's lead. Learn more about the band in our exclusive interview with Yael Akron.
The EP opens with the robustly arranged "Faint Memory." Tal's rocking guitar is supported by a powerful bass and percussion rhythm section, Yael's stunning vocal soaring above the thick arrangement. Sustained vocal lines blend perfectly into instrumental breaks. "Confused," with sung parts by both Yael and Tal shows both sides of the band's sound, opening with Yael's tender vocals as a ballad but quickly develops in full splendor into a powerful rocker. Although we have not yet seen the band perform this on stage, it obviously has room for further interpretation in a live performance.
Tal takes the vocal lead on "Vigour" both with sung parts and screeches. The track builds into a superb duet with Yael who enters the fray in the chorus lyrically and with harmonizing vocalise. She then joins with both backing and lead vocals in the verses that follow in this standout track from the new EP. We can't wait to hear the extended version.
The percussion in the most-like-Manga track "Kill Your Own," is especially crisp. Another Tal-Yael duet opening with Tal's lead and Yael backing, it transforms as tension builds into an especially well-produced rocker. Alternating lead vocals between the band's two singers, we especially appreciated the way Yael's leads rise above the instrumental and the way her layered backing harmonies support Tal's vocal work. The guitar solo during the instrumental bridge is especially robust against Banana's crisp percussion work.
The EP concludes with "Carry On." As with "Confused," the track opens with a light, almost-ballad texture, Yael singing tenderly. Guitar work develops quickly before and through the first chorus. The rhythmic texture that emerges works well underneath Yael's powerful lead and multi-layered harmonies. The outstanding instrumental breaks blend well with the sung parts.
Align have released the EP in a range of popular online sources including amazon, Napster and Rhapsody. The physical EP will also be available via brick-and-mortar outlets. With a bright future ahead, the EP provides a taste of where the band is going. The band are also offering the track "Confused" as a free download via their MySpace website. We can't wait for their forthcoming full length album, additional new tracks and
the English reworkings of the best of their earlier material. Certainly Align are a band to watch as they move out internationally later this year.