The ancient Jewish court system was called the Sanhedrin. During the time of the Holy Temple, the Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members. There were also smaller religious Sanhedrins in all cities as well as a civil political-democratic Sanhedrin. They existed until the abolishment of the rabbinic patriarchate in about 425 AD. However, Sanhedrin is also the name of an instrumental progressive rock band from Israel formed by two brothers. In 1987 they were infected with the prog virus after listening to the music of Pink Floyd. From that time on Sagi Barness (bass) and Aviv Barness (keyboards) listened to all interesting progressive rock bands they could lay their hands on.
Their great passion for music made them decide to form their own band. At first Sanhedrin began as a Camel tribute band, but after a while they tried to write and compose original music of their own. After several line-up changes they finally got a stable band with Gadi Ben Elisha (guitars), Igal Baram (drums) and Shem-Tov Levi (flute). In 2006 they started to record their debut album that was finally finished in 2010. The result of their labour was the concept album Ever After, which got a proper release by an Italian label in February 2011. On this album two guest musicians contributed namely Michael Lam (English horn) and Elinoy Yogev (bassoon).
The album contains eight instrumental tracks and right from the start it's obvious that they once were a Camel tribute band. Especially on songs like Overture and Il Tredici the influences are very noticeable due to the flute playing, the sound of the electric guitar and the keyboards. However, either the influences of Pink Floyd are still present in the music primarily in a track as Timepiece. In this piece the lap steel guitar could have been played by David Gilmour. On Dark Age I noticed another influence: the flute playing strongly resembles the way Ian Anderson played this instrument on the albums he recorded with Jethro Tull. Strangely enough I also heard hints of a band you don't hear that often in the music of other prog rock bands. In The Guillotine I recognized traces of Chappaqua, a song taken from Cordon Bleu, an album recorded by the Dutch band Solution in 1975. Both songs contain the same kind of rhythms, but I think it's just a coincidence. In Sobriety I heard influences from Jethro Tull, Camel as well as Pink Floyd; Steam also contains influences of the latter two. The shortest song Tema only contains the acoustic guitar referring to musicians as Steve Hackett and Steve Howe.
The lack of a singer in Sanhedrin is no problem at all, because the musicians wrote adventurous songs that has a high degree of entertainment without the human voice. The keyboards, electric guitars and the flute succeed in bringing enough variety in the compositions to make sure they won't get boring. That's a big compliment here because often the songs of instrumental bands have a tendency to sound alike. Although the influences of Pink Floyd and Camel are clearly present throughout the album, it didn't bother me at all. They use these influences in a positive way, so I can live with it.
The band members can be proud of what they achieved on Ever After. They certainly put Israel on the prog map with a release that will be enjoyed by people who like the music of all the above-mentioned bands.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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