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Niyaz, which means ‘yearning’ in Persian and Urdu, formed in 2005 and come from a historic lineage of Middle Eastern poets setting verse to music. Following on from their previous albums, in their new album, Sumud, the band have explored the music and identity of Iranians struggling to maintain their cultural identity whilst in exile.
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Although their previous releases (the self-titled album Niyaz and the sophomore Nine Heavens) were incredibly beautiful, I feel that Sumud is the most coherent and cohesive of their works. Niyaz and Nine Heavens have softer spots, but every song on Sumud hits its mark perfectly, though the slow-paced final track Arzusun might take time to grow on those who prefer the group's more assertive tracks. Every song on this album is strong in its own right. I would take this opportunity to point out highlights, but I'd end up listing half the tracks on the album. I will say that my personal favorite is track 9 -- Mahtaab. If you don't speak Persian find someone who does. Have them translate the song for you. All I will do here, for grace, is one line from the chorus: "Rafiqan qadr-e yekdigar bedunin. Khoda key mi-dahad omr-e dobare?" Friends, respect one another (ie. recognize each other's worth), (for) when will God give another chance (ie. life)?
Poetry is poetry. But sometimes music is poetry and sometimes poetry is music. Niyaz blurs the lines and drags you to the gates of heaven.
If you don't appreciate Niyaz, you don't appreciate art. Sorry. This is fact. Buy this album and be happy.
Sumud, though, I think is their best yet. Every song is a good one. I haven't listened to it enough to be able to pick out specific songs, because this is one of those rare albums that I'll listen to all the way through. It's just ALL GOOD. It's upbeat in all the right places and mixed very well. I am not disappointed in this one. Thanks, Niyaz!