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Review: Tarot - Suffer Our Pleasures
Suffer Our Pleasures

Label: SpineFarm Records
Year released: 2003
Duration: 48:02
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: October 22, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Suffer Our Pleasures

Rated 4.71/5 (94.29%) (28 Votes)

Boy, anybody who bought this thinking it was going to sound at all like Nightwish is in for a kick in the balls. While Marco Hietala may be paying the rent with Finland's Power Metal kings, this is the band he and his brother Zachary have had for the last 20 years on the side, and it sounds absolutely nothing like Nightwish, or like any other band for that matter.

This is straight-ahead, fist in your face metal that bears no resemblance to the current wave of Power Metal. There are only a few places where any keys are used, there is almost no double-bass drumming, and this is not at all what would be called "epic" or "symphonic". Tarot specialize in heavy, cranky riffs, tight and aggressive songwriting, and the incredibly variable vocals of Marco Hietala. I am in awe of the sharp and snappy songwriting these guys display. Tarot have had the same lineup since their first album in 1986, and it really shows in the locked-in, spot-on performances and compositions. There is not a wasted note on this whole CD, and every single part of every song is right where it needs to be. Even on the nearly seven-minute "Rider Of The Last Day" Tarot never waste a second. On hard and heavy in-your-face stompers like "Follow The Blind", "Undead Son" and the totally fucking cool "Convulsions" Tarot show what heavy fucking metal is really all about. The aforementioned "Rider Of The Last Day" is a slower, almost Sabbathy tune, and I must say "Pyre Of Gods" may be my favorite song here with it's aggressive riffing and tuneful and catchy chorus. I like that there is nothing happy or syrupy about this music at all, and the sound of the album is dark, angry and mature. All the performers are ace musicians who are obviously utterly contemptuous of trends and fearless in their chosen path. Witness the honest-to-god bluegrass acoustic intro to "From The Shadows" that segues seamlessly (and convincingly) into the song's headstomper riff. I also have to single out Marco Hietala's vocals as a highlight of the album. He has an incredibly dynamic voice that carries between a clear midrange howl and a gritty snarl with ease. While not in possession of the range one normally expects from a metal singer, his voice has enormous character and charisma, and his performance is impassioned and balls-out.

The cover art and the packaging are nice enough, but the real prize here is the lyrics. Holy Shit the lyrics! I have rarely if ever encountered lyrics this good. Every song is intelligently and insightfully written, and it's hard to single out the best one. I normally don't go into this much detail, but in this case I have to give some samples, as these are just too good:

From "Undead Son"
"I hear, I speak, counted the words all of my life.
I see, I dream, if world's a womb, I'd be the knife.
I run, I flee, your fingers just won't leave my head.
I hear you speak for those I left for dead.

I hear, I speak, the tongues are forked, the ears distort.
I see, I dream, your world's a horde against my fort.
I run, I flee, the vermin stalk within my walls.
I hear them speak their dirt within my halls."

From "Painless"
"Blinded in the land of the one-eyed.
Took a walk the day I died.
I'm a dream in a clutch of nightmares,
a coward who dares.
Afloat in the dirt underground,
the singer and the sound.
I'm the voice and the word, the prayer.
Suffocated by air.

They told me fire would burn,
but it doesn't matter anymore.
The wound in my back,
the best place for your knife to turn.

But now I know it's PAINLESS."

I am completely impressed with this album. I had never heard these guys before, but this is just an amazingly polished and mature album that's both innovative and classic at once. Tarot have a completely individual sound, and despite the fact that this is gimmick-free I can't say I have ever heard any other band that sounds like them. This is just a great album of sharp, angry, intelligent metal, and I recommend it without reservation.

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