|Review: Tarot - Gravity of Light|
|Gravity of Light|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: April 12, 2010
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
for:Gravity of Light
Yay, a new Tarot album! It's been four long years since Crows Fly Black, and what do the boys have in store for us this time? A new album called Gravity of Light, and boy, was I excited. This would be the first new Tarot album since I got into the band, and with how much I've kept playing their albums over the years, I was hyped as hell for this. Now that it's here, let's just cut to the chase and review it.
Gravity of Light is not quite the riff-heavy assault of Crows Fly Black, nor the diabolical concentration of maniacal power that was Suffer Our Pleasures, but it is a Tarot album; that much is certain. Tarot has always had their own unique style; nobody else ever sounded like them, not really. Their style is so air-tight and so individual by this point that they might as well trademark it. Marco's distinctive howling and gruff midrange combined with the melodic crunching guitars and snappy, angry songwriting talents make for a killer treat of a record every time, and this is no different. I don't think this is quite on the level of the last two, just by virtue of the songs not being on the same stellar level, but it's still really good anyway, mind you.
I have to say the production on this just isn't good, as the vocals are way in the front and the guitars way in the back, smoothed down from their sharp bite of the previous two albums to a very dull, rounded clunking that robs the album of a lot of its power. The songwriting shines through, but seriously, guys, go back to the Crows Fly Black production. Please. The other big change has come in the form of newly initiated second vocalist Tommi Salmela, who uses his thin, nasally whine to great effect in sync with Tarot's uncouth heavy metal beating. Sometimes he gets a bit grating, as on the weak "Calling Down the Rain," but most of the time he adds an extra pinch of energy – not that the band needs it so much as uses it to an even greater effect.
The songs are split up between classic Tarot-styled rippers like the great opener "Satan is Dead," with riffs and eccentric vocal patterns to spare, the monstrous choirs of "Rise!" and the propulsive, driving "Pilot of All Dreams," and slower, more mystical pounders like the awesome "Hell Knows," which is probably the best single song on the album, and "Magic & Technology." The choruses are big, loud war-chants and the synths create mesmerizing soundscapes to lose oneself in. They're simple songs, but the band makes every note count for a hundred of a lesser band's, and the whole thing is just crushingly good. "Gone" (SAAAAAIIIIL MY DREEEEEAAAAMS TO BABYLOOOON...) and "I Walk Forever" could almost be Nightwish tunes, with their heavier reliance on orchestration. And, as always, the lyrics rule, intelligent, sharp, witty and mysterious. How can anyone deny the greatness of lines like You may find me laughing in a haunted house/Drawing strange runes to the air and dust/And here inside of me there's a long forgotten key? You can't.
At its best, Gravity of Light lives up to its name and produces heavy, entrancing material that will at times make you feel like you're being crushed by some invisible, unimaginable weight. This is a moody, opaque work at heart, contrary to the angry vitriol of previous works, when the band was scrounging in the underground, and it might take some getting used to. It is worth it, though, once you feel your head being compressed to pieces by the magnitude of the riffs on this album. This really is a mature, well thought out album, even if it isn't quiiite as good as their last two. Tarot is a metal band with no limitations, completely devoted to their intelligent, creative style of heavy metal, and goddamn if they aren't absolutely wonderful at it. Here's to another handful of kickass albums in the new decade, boys. Good show, good show.
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