This aint your daddy's power metal, although your daddy just may have been headbanging to Tarot when they first hit the music scene some 20 years ago. To appreciate Tarot's new Suffer Our Pleasures CD you'd better be ready for an unusual vocal style, and you'll need a stomach for heavier-than-usual metal.
Tarot was formed by brothers Marco and Zachary Hietala in the mid-80s, and the band is one of the oldest and most respected heavy metal acts in Finland. But the band has been in hiatus for five years while Marco Hietala played with Conquest and Sinergy, Janne Tolsa played with Virtuocity, and – most significant - Marco joined Nightwish. But after a five year break, Suffer Our Pleasures is Tarot's 9th release (including compilations). It is a little more linear-heavy-metal than their prior records, which had been edging their way toward progressive power metal.
This music is one part prog-metal, one part power metal, and two parts heavy metal. The prog description fits because Tarot has introduced some adventurous elements, there are some wonderful technical passages, and some tracks – "Rider Of The last Day", in particular – have catchy tempo changes. The power label will probably stick in most people's minds because of the two- and three-part backing vocal harmonies, and because several tracks are more upbeat than most in heavy metal, although never in the saccharine-sunshine mold of the Hammerfalls of the world. You'll get the idea if you think of Nevermore. On balance though, despite that power metal impression, this lives on the heavy-metal shelf.
Marco Hietala's vocals are gruff and will grate some listeners the wrong way. And opening track "I Rule" may have some appeal for the leather-and-chains headbangers, but many metal aficionados will agree that with its aggressively atonal screaming vocals and very simplistic instrumentation, that track could easily have been left off the album. The ten songs on the album range from 3 to 6 minutes, and the standout is probably the proggy 6-minute "Rider Of The Last Day".
If you can stand really gruff vocals and don't mind your metal heavier than most reviewed on these august pages, then you'll welcome the return of Tarot.
- I Rule
- Pyre Of Gods
- Rider Of The Last Day
- Follow The Blind
- Undead Son
- Of Time And Dust
- From The Void
- From The Shadows