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Tarot: Suffer Our Pleasures

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.

Track Listing:

  1. I Rule
  2. Pyre Of Gods
  3. Rider Of The Last Day
  4. Follow The Blind
  5. Undead Son
  6. Of Time And Dust
  7. From The Void
  8. Convulsions
  9. From The Shadows
  10. Painless

Added: March 20th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Terot's Web Site
Hits: 3777
Language: english

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Tarot: Suffer Our Pleasures
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-20 22:29:12
My Score:

The name Tarot inspires a sense of mystery and power right off the bat when you hear the word. Metal power is most certainly the case from this band with the same name. Their release entitled Suffer Our Pleasures will immediately appeal to fans of the band Nightwish for their very own Bassist Marco Hitela performs these duties and sings lead on the tracks. On the guitar is his Brother Zachary and the combination is truly a tasty piece of music. Marco is very impressive on lead vocals, and for those who have seen Nightwish they know he provides a large amount of the backup for Tarja Turunen and does a great job of it as well. It is nice to see him able to sing full numbers for a change. Some of them are damned good.

The band is rounded out by Janne Tolsa on keyboards and Pecu Cinnari on drums. Each player providing the skill I felt best matched the music Marco and Zach had written. Some of the grooves have a little of a Nightwish feel to them, but not as much as you might expect. Marco was in this group before he joined Nightwish so perhaps he brought some of the writing style to them. The sound is definitely in line with a lot of the metal that is coming out of Finland nowadays, and so far so good on that. I have yet to be disappointed in the Finns and their quest to dominate modern metal.

My favorites are primarily "I Rule" and "From The Void" since they just kicked when played loud. There is also a semi-epic in "Rider Of The Last Day". This number starts out slow and grinding, yet picks up speed considerably only to slow down to a whisper at the end. It is done very well. "From The Shadows" is perhaps the quickest number on the CD, with its almost Southern Country beginning it was quite fun. One does not expect this feel to come from a band in Finland. Yet music being universal, I guess influences fall into the same track.

Anyone who enjoys Marco's work as a performer with Nightwish should pick this up, to see the other side of what he is also capable of. It is a solid piece throughout and you will find yourself giving many tracks a second and continual listen.


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