Legend of the Black Shawarma, the newest release by Israeli trance duo Infected Mushroom, is sure to solidify the group’s status as a love-it-or-be-annoyed-by-it cult icon. This time around, IM’s love of metal takes center stage, making for an even more eclectic mix than usual. It’s a big step away from the duo’s signature psychedelic trance, clouding the usual delicate bells and beeps with distorted guitar riffs. Legend is probably too intense for crossover appeal, but fans should be intrigued by the group’s sonic evolution.

Infected Mushroom

Legend of the Black Shawarma

Infected Mushroom hails from Haifa, Israel. Members Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani are both classically trained musicians who found electronic music at a young age. IM has found success in many parts of the world but is practically unheard of outside electronic music circles, despite its genre-bending tendencies. Legend of the Black Shawarma is the outfit’s seventh full-length album; named after a traditional Middle Eastern dish, it was originally meant to include a track for each of Eisen and Duvdevani’s favorite restaurants.

Some of the songs on Legend really do sound legendary. The excellent “Poquito Mas” opens the album with a delicate Middle Eastern guitar melody before settling into gritty metal-flavored electronica. The exotic Middle Eastern motif comes in and out, adding a sense of chaos from all the genre mashing. But Duvdevani’s heavy Israeli accent, present here as on many of the tracks, helps to keep the music grounded.

The album’s first single “Smashing the Opponent” features Korn’s Jonathan Davis, who crafts it into another standout. Davis’s smooth yet strained voice easily rises above the pared-down instrumentals, consummating the album’s attempt at metal-trance fusion. It’s also one of the darker-sounding songs on the album, already IM’s heaviest.

The title track sounds like a return to the second side of Converting Vegetarians, IM’s epic attempt to make trance music that could stand apart from trance culture. It takes three minutes to get to the meat, but the buildup holds the listener’s interest by constantly adding new layers of sound — a sort of musical shawarma. The middle section is a nice opportunity for Eisen and Duvdevani to showcase their classical skills with some pretty piano arpeggios.

Unfortunately, much of Legend is self-glorifying rambling. Several of the songs are full of buildups that don’t go anywhere. The polyrhythmic section of “Project 100” is striking at first for its simplicity, but it fades away without developing into more. And “Killing Time,” featuring Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, truly lives up to its name.

Infected Mushroom is often hailed as a primer band for trance music, a genre that gets slack for being repetitive and boring. While some of Legend falls into that trap, the more concise songs retain the ever-shifting melodies and uncommon sounds that held listeners’ interest in earlier singles like “Converting Vegetarians” and “Becoming Insane.” The album clocks in at 77 minutes — not at all unheard of for Infected Mushroom — but it still feels too long. Fans will likely be pleased with the new direction, but those new to trance or to the specific stylings of Infected Mushroom would be better off simply downloading a few of the shorter songs.

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