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"Fazer Magazine"

Align - Align EP Review

by Anny Slama

Align is a threesome out of Israel consisting of Yael Akron (vocals), Tal Vaisman (guitar, vocals) and Maayan “Banana” Henik (drums). Naturally I’m curious as to how he got the nickname ‘Banana’ … being the joker of the band though I wonder if it was a self imposed moniker.

This 5-song EP is not the band’s first release; however, it is their first release under the name ‘Align’. Formerly a 5-piece, they previously recorded a CD as ‘Manga’, a fairly successful electric Hebrew rock group that had played in some of Tel Aviv’s most popular venues.

What captures me right from the first track “Faint Memory” is Yael’s voice. Her angelic, crystal clear vocals contrast beautifully against the angry guitar and drums. Tal takes the lead with vocals on “Vigour” and the level of aggression is definitely kicked up a notch. He has the vocal ability to take the song from a non-threatening start to a kick your ass finish. Yael sings the chorus and harmonizes throughout the song.

“Kill your Own” is more melodic than expected for a song carrying such a title. I may be way off base but I have the faint feeling this band is holding back slightly and in testing out the North American market have been a bit more timid/conservative when what they really want is to let their edgier side come out.

With “Confuzed” and the intro to “Carry On”, we hear Yael again with her tender vocals leading us to believe we are about to hear a sensitive pop-y balled – her voice is very moving and makes one almost introspective. Then the heavy guitar and drums kick in and we are treated to that rock sound that they do so well. I am sure I will not be the first to compare some of the sounds of this EP to that of American rock band Evanescence albeit with a more current twist.

With a name change and a focus on taking their music to the international stage, Align has managed to compose quite a noteworthy EP and I look forward to catching a live performance as they are slated to hit the shores of Western Canada in October.

- Anny Slama

"Rock On Request-Align CD Review"

Align is a unique blend of grunge and hard core rock music, and comes to us all the way from Israel natives Yael Akron,(vocals), Tal Valsman, (guitar and vocals), and Maayan (Banana) Henik, (drums). The band's recently released debut EP features a great mix of haunting vocals, intense guitars and consistent and hard core drums that gives fans a glimpse into a rare musical collective.

The unique musical blend this band posseses gives listeners a view of rock that combines gothic and grunge styles with heart-piercing lyrics, such as with the song, 'Faint Memory.' The band reminds this writer of a next generation version of Evanescence, from the chilling vocal performances to the vigorous efforts of the guitarist and drummer. There isn't a bad track on this EP, but other definite favorites include 'Kill Your Own' and 'Carry On.' There are just too many positives to list when it comes to Align's music.

Finding a band such as Align is a rare commodity, and fans of artistic and spine-tingling music should look for their debut EP as well as their upcoming album immediately upon release. Is it too much to go so far as to describe the band as spectacular? After listening to their album, I can easily say it is truly a joy to listen to and it honestly hasn't left my car CD player since I received it. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for this incredibly talented band.
- Review by Anthony Avina

"Musical Discoveries- Review Digest"

(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.
- Russell Elliot

"Interview with Yael Akron on Musical Discoveries"

Musical Discoveries: Please tell us about the origins of Align.
Yael Akron: Align is the incarnation of former Israeli band, Manga, formed by Yael Akron and Tal Vaisman, and since then, had a few lineup changes over the years. The last member to complete the current lineup is drummer Maayan Banana Henik who played with Tal in some other projects.Manga has been active for approximately three years, until the recent change of name due to the decision to expose our music to an international audience by recording new material in English. Previously we played rock in Hebrew, with the exception of the English single "My Secret Truth" we released about a year ago on the compilation album Israel Unleashed.
What are the musical backgrounds of the individual band members?
I began my musical journey as a saxophonist at the age of ten, a phase which lasted for eleven years. During that time, I mostly played jazz and classical music and only started writing songs and singing after completing my military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
Tal started playing guitar at the age of ten. Initially focusing on producing as much noise as he could from his guitar--or any other noisy instruments for that matter. In his high school years, after a very intensive metal/punk/hardcore phase, we met as he found new interest with melodic musicians and genres such as jazz, progrock. Through his work in Manga he also started taking interest in the productional aspect of the band's sound.
Maayan started playing drums after a brief affair with the bass guitar. Coming from a musically fertile household--his father still, is an accomplished jazz-guitar player--he was exposed from a very early age to various music styles which also included avant-garde jazz-rock bands from the 70s, aggressive metal bands and soulful blues players.
Has the band drawn many of the fans of the former Manga lineup to the new sound of Align?
Our sound has evolved through and during periods in which we played live shows.Realizing what our future sound should be like by performing it live in front of our fan base is the reason why we feel that Align is the natural progression of Manga.There was a curious evolution of sound, starting by recording a full length album in Hebrew prior to the consistent period of live shows.Through these shows we found ourselves translating the clean/restrained recorded sound into a much rougher and edgy sound which, we thought, more suitably defined us as a band, live or on tape.The next natural step was writing and recording more materials which suited the concept better, so our fan base had witnessed and embraced this process.
The EP is comprised of all new material sung in English rather than Hebrew. How did you find this transition?
The language transition was mostly quite easy due to the fact that we mostly listen to music sung in English. Actually writing and singing in Hebrew used to be a much greater challenge for us. However, after translating some old material we learned that we could sometimes appreciate the aggressive sound of the Hebrew language and its unique artistic expression.
And the sound has evolved since your earlier work. What can you say about the progression?
As we have mentioned earlier, we have evolved as a band mainly through live shows and the new material is an attempt to recapture our live set, as far as sound and energy.Also, there's a new sense of adventurism in our arrangements, song choice and dynamics.We felt that we wanted to create a more unique sound which is comprised of heavier heavy moments which come in contrast with our melodic emphasis.We also incorporated some interesting programmed sounds, replacing previous keyboard functions, daring drumming, cheeky guitars and broader range of vocal performance.
Will you be translating the lyrics to your earlier material and be re-recording it as Align?
Some old songs will be translated and re-recorded, as we loved them all we are still not fixed on which ones, but meanwhile continuously creating new material that matches the current spirit of sound.
There is a shift from entirely your vocal work to a combination with Tal. What led to this change?
We felt that the different dynamics created by the vocal combination of the two of us is an interesting one that should be developed and emphasized.The change was also a result of the dynamics of our live show on stage, in which we both function as front persons.
What are the touring plans to promote the new EP and the band's new direction?
We definitely plan on taking our music abroad. Our plan is to perform with new material around Israel this summer, and to schedule a tour in the US during fall of 2009.
In addition to the material on the EP, how many new songs has the band got ready to showcase?
We plan to have a live set comprised of about fourteen new songs including one or two covers. At the moment we are working hard on building our new set by mixing and matching the right songs to create a new live experience for us and for the audience.
What should we expect from Align in the coming months?
We'll be working on new materials, scheduling shows around Israel for the summer and fulfilling our plans regarding touring the States during the next fall.
Before we conclude is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
It's always a pleasure to appear on Musical Discoveries! Watch out for our upcoming fall tour in The [United] States.

- By Russel Elliot


Align Demo 2009 Available on, lastfm and many other internet stores who have streaming players as well as facebook and Radionindy.
All links to be found on myspace.

Align Demo 2009 Tracks are:

#Faint Memory
#Kill Your Own
#Carry On

Previous Single in a Compilation:

My Secret Truth