Tandjent was formed by Tim Stevenson, a Berklee College of Music graduate, with his long-time friend Sundance Martin a few years ago. The two musicians poured three years of hard work, time, energy, and creativity into the songwrting to create their self-released debut, No One Will Hear Us. Tim Stevenson is pretty much responsible for the whole album, from recording every instrument that includes lead and rhythm guitars, vocals, bass, and drum programming. He has also recorded, mixed, produced and mastered the disc in his home studio, while Sundance Martin has tackled the rhythm guitar work for the CD.
For a two-member band, the final result is nothing less than spectacular. The production, especially for an independent release, is amazing. The guitar tone is wide and rich, the bass has a full sound to it, and the drums are so incredibly well programmed that it is hard to notice they are not being played by a professional drummer. As for the music, Tandjent plays a signature mix of technical progressive metal and post-thrash meets 90's death metal, defined by brutal extreme vocals, Meshuggah-like guitar riffs with mind-twisting stop-start breaks, and varying rhythms and time changes. The music is complex and crunch-filled. Stevenson reminds me a bit of Meshuggah's Fredrik Thordendal in the way that he opts for a lot of tapping and legato style guitar, but he certainly has his own traits that set him apart from most of those guitar virtuoses in an easily distinguishable manner.
This is a 45-minute disc packed with intense songmanship and variety that it will make a big impact on those who are willing to keep an open mind. Don't feel threatened by the extreme vocals, they are certainly there to enhance the quality of the music, and add an extra layer of texture to it. Stevenson's vocals are easy to follow, they are far from the indiscernible low-guttural vocal deliveries some bands like to command. Tandjent's music took me to several musical environments, each differing from one another. I had to think of Cynic, SYL/Devin Townsend, King's X, and early Entombed among many others, besides the already mentioned Meshuggah, mostly their Destroy Erase Improve period. However, at the same time, they don't really sound like any of those bands in particular. Once you listen to the album, you may be drawn to other comparisons, if anything. "Gasoline Finger" is an excellent choice to kick the album off. It is brutally heavy and encapsulates everything to represent Tandjent's music: screamed vocals, great rhythm guitar, fat bass lines, and finally a schizophrenic guitar solo coloured by wicked jazz scales that will have you drooling. "Human Antidote" is up next, getting things started with phenomenal shifts of guitar rhythms executed through standard 7-string tuning, fiercely syncopated bass lines, and again a terrific guitar solo. Perhaps the best on the album, it flows through the body of the song seamlessly with utter perfection. Actually I had to spin this one several times before I could proceed with the rest of the disc.
More diversity is available on the following cuts. Note the programmed drum intro on "No Question", not to mention the sudden breakdown at the end with in-your-face aggression on display. More melodic chord progressions permeat "The Great Machine", a song with a creepy acoustic break. Punishing double bass drums on "Paralyzed" melt into Stevenson's manic screaming (hence the SYL comparison) but the song quickly quietens down when the amazing legato line works itself in the mix. "I Remain" constantly contrasts melody with brutality, at once spewing forth chugging guitar and then hugely melodic segments of rhythm. "Fear Itself" opens with a wave of dissonance gushing out the speaker and features one of the most off-the-wall solos littered with a crazy tapping melody and passionate guitar solo. The laughter at the end of this one suggests the spontaneity of the recording process. I love the melodies spinning underneath despondent guitar chords on "A Demon's Best Disguise" and the bridge on "The Path of True", whilst the title track, as it itself hints, is the band's stab at instrumental wizardy, a track loaded with polyrhthmics and jaw-dropping melodies secretly panning from right to left speaker, increasing the dynamic quality.
I've said little of what I meant to say, but I'll have to wrap this review up. Tandjent's No One Will Hear Us, to me, is an excellent piece of work that will please fans of most extreme metallers who like their music technical, diverse, and over-the-top. This is perhaps the second best debut album of 2005 after Linear Sphere's Reality Dysfunction.
- Gasoline Finger
- Human Antidote
- No Question
- The Great Machine
- I Remain
- Fear Itself
- A Demon's Best Disguise
- No One Will Hear Us
- The Path of True