Guitar-oriented oriental rock with prog leanings: this might be the best way to describe Yossi Sassi's first solo album ''Melting Clocks'' that spins around the most important parameter of our lives - time.
Founding member of the well-known progressive oriental metallers ORPHANED LAND, Sassi could not but bring a touch of Middle-East to his far-from-metal solo album, evident from the start and the dynamic 'Drive', possibly the best moment in the entire record. The highlights are packed in the first part of the album and continue with 'Fields of Sunrise' where bouzouki passages mix with jazz/rock(!). Enjoyable is the use of multiple instruments throughout and the fusion with eastern-Med musical tradition that reminds me of home... The heavier guitar passages are also there, never reaching a metallic sound, but balancing on the edge of guitar rock (Satriani) and (less on) heavy prog (Porcupine Tree).
The investment here is mainly on melody and memorable riffs, while the rhythm section simply provides a "safe" substrate for Sassi to deliver his key phrases. The (limited) vocal sections don't provide anything spectacular, rather it is those unusual (for the western standards) instruments that keep the listener engaged (see 'Numbers World'). Sadly, pass the first few promising tracks, the album turns into more standard rock patterns ('Another Day at the Office'/'Not Good Enough') and appears to have lost its direction; well executed but not innovative in any sense. With the exception of the catchy melody of 'Simple Things' the second half does not boast the excitement of the opening tracks and consequently falls into the realm of uninspiring, even though Sassi tries blues ('Sahara Afternoon') and acoustic folk ('Sunset') amidst an overly relaxed mood.
Although not an innovative package as a whole and far from being a "new" proposal, ''Melting Clocks'', wrapped up with a veil of (rather than boasting of) progressive rock, has its moments of brilliance, condensed in the opening 3-4 tracks, and lends itself to an enjoyable listen.