Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tad Morose - Sender of Thoughts (1995)

Tad Morose are a Swedish progressive metal band that formed in the early 1990s. This is their second album. Their music blends Heavy Metal with keyboards and epic rhythms in a style reminscent of Rainbow and bearing some semblance to Power Metal - but not quite as fast paced as most of the other european stuff from this era (like Italian bands Rhapsody and Skylark). This is also one of the Black Mark cds that first started appearing in local stores and even in the libraries! So, I at first hired it from there  until I eventually picked up a copy for $14.95* - it still has the original label on it - it was from the CD Store in town - one of the many that have now been swallowed by the ravages of Itunes and earthquakes.

The vocalist for this album is Kristian "Krille" Andren. After this album he departed, doing some time with Memento Mori** (replacing god Messiah Marcolin )  and then spending some time with Wuthering Heights before joining Bloodbound.

It has an intriguing cover - almost all of it cast in shades of red - Egyptian style statues line the back, before them a levitating ornate picture frame, in which a blue face with bright red eyes gazes out. It looks as though liquid is leaking from the base of the frame, forming a droplet that has cascaded outwards, rippling to the edges of the cover.

I have no idea who designs these album covers, or where their inspiration lies, but I've seen some weird ones whilst writing this blog!

Inside, lyrics superimposed over grainy pharoah faces and other scenes taken from the cover and cast in monochrome. The band  do not look amused, as they gaze sideways out of the rear page, glaring at the fellow that dares to take their photo.

Now, onewards into the music.

Keyboard's delicate tinkling leads us into the heavy bass of "Fading Pictures". Kristian's voice soars across it, powerful and strong as it swoops into the chorus.

"Sender of Thoughts" opens with keyboards and pianos, before cascading into a sound not unlike early German speed metal (such as Paradox and Rage) and then swelling into the more progressive vibe again. After this for a short time, Kristian's voice breaks the keyboard with delicate, almost longing tones. Around the music soars and swarms.

Another epic and heavy song is "Morning Sun" with its bold guitar and sturdy rhythms, fading out into keyboards.

A somewhat mellower number (kind  of) is "Lost in Time" which starts with aching piano and then swells into melancholic guitar and bass. It is not a ballad - not even close, however, as the music continues its steady, strong progress.

Also throbbing with restless tension and hopeless emotions, is "Different Eyes". Which proclaims:
"I want to live again, trying to make things right...."
Not so much aggressive as laden with heavy frustration and thrumming with feelings of hopelessness. A desperate desire to change things, to fix the past, but a frustrating inability to achieve that goal.

"Time of Silence" is more of the familiar - heavy with restless desires and edged with tension and a little frustration. "Forever Gone" is likewise similar.

Neither "Circle of Souls" nor "Here After" offer anything new to the mix. They both begin with heavy bass (and a little keyboard), the guitars and more keyboard coming in and then, finally, the vocalist joining them.

It is "Gates of Babylon" that is probably my favourite of the album. Starting with high, echoing keyboard given it a haunting, magical feel. The guitars come chugging along in, and the vocals join them in this fine cover of a Rainbow classic. It just feels more lively, more alive, than the earlier albums. I think it is a slightly faster pace and the music less laden with tension and restlessness.

The chaotir, crashing piano of "Netherworld" is a discordantly wonderful instrumental to end the album. Very short, it is over within a heartbeat.

Tad Morose are a decent band  - their sound something like a combination between the progressive, keyboard-y power of Dream Theater and the heavier bass and solid rifts found in thrash metal, with a touch of speed. Kristian's voice is a powerful force - mostly of medium to relatively high pitch, but more operatic than a screaming howling banshee. Too slow and steady to qualify as speed, or even really power metal, and the basic structure and pace of all the songs is more-or-less the same, making this quite a repetitive album, especially when trying to break it down into tracks.

But overall, a pretty good album and definitely worth 7/10. I would like to see a bit of variety in other albums, however. I wonder how Memento Mori sounded with him***?

* This may not sound very cheap to you Americans, but in NZ most new cds are $29.99 and upwards, so it was a bit of a bargain. I consider anything under $25 to be a good deal. This has, alas, lead to most serious music buyers purchasing their discs from overseas - which is also helped by the strong NZ$, and means that the local stores lose sales, and thus have had to close down one-by-one-by-one. Now there are maybe five CD stores in the entire city - two Marbecks (used to be the CD Store) and three Pennylane Records (which sell second hand as well).

** Memento Mori and Hexenhaus are, as far as I'm concerned, the same band. They both changed the line-up so many times that the only anchoring feature was guitarist Mike Wead.

*** Damned good! They're a faster pace and his voice is a little more variable. I might have to listen to some more!

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