Serbia is known for many things, but progressive rock/metal isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, there have been a few notable acts to emerge over the years, such as Gordi, Dah, and Korni Grupa. Fortunately, newcomer DAAR (Oliver Arunovic, Nebojsa Nedeljkovic, Sasa Kostic, and Ivan Kostic) proves capable of keeping the style alive on its debut effort, One-Way Expedition. While it’s a relatively short journey, the five-song sequence bursts with engaging instrumentation and intense musicianship, ensuring that any fan of the style will be pleased.
The collection begins with “Portal,” whose initial atmospheric dissonance and hypnotic rhythms pave the way for some fiery guitar riffs. Eventually, various frantic guitar lines are placed over this foundation before a calmer middle section transpires. It provides a nice change of pace for the track, which is much appreciated since the majority of the piece, while consistently interesting due to its complexity, doesn’t offer a lot of variation. Nevertheless, it’s a strong way to start, and it surely demonstrates how skilled the quartet is.
A bit heavier overall, “Cocoon” oozes the attitude of ‘80s and early ‘90s metal. Its first half is essentially a prolonged guitar solo on top of a steady foundation; however, things become more interesting afterward, when vibrant tones and some more invigorating and inventive arrangements take center stage. Furthermore, the serenity with which it concludes delivers a great contrast to the hecticness with which it began. Next, “Terror Machine” is a bit more straightforward and reserved at first, although it’s basically another guitar solo showcase. Even so, there’s no denying how gripping some of these riffs are.
“Scars” is more multifaceted and dynamic, with several interesting layers clashing at all times. As usual, there’s a slightly ethereal cascade that runs throughout it, and the dual guitar battle near the end is surely a highlight of the disc, as is the synthy interruption shortly thereafter. Unsurprisingly, the title track closes the album. It’s also the lengthiest track here (if only by a minute or so), and it makes effective use of its duration to offer several intriguing transitions. Of course, it’s mostly just another showpiece for some electric guitar wizardry, but the backing composition still keeps things appealing. Also, the tranquil nature of the final moments is very enjoyable.
If you’re in the mood for some virtuosic guitarwork and intricate rhythms, One-Way Expedition should satisfy. Truth be told, it could be a bit more ambitious and varied, with more instruments getting the spotlight and more effects and tones being employed. Still, DAAR excels at what it’s trying to do here, and there’s certainly a ton of potential for its follow-ups.I, for one, am looking forward to what the band does next.