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The cutting edge of Progressive Metal

Tartarean Desire

From hearing a description of this band I was interested to investigate further, as they sounded like something not to let pass by. Given that the band are London based and that their approach clearly varied to the style I would normally listen to, I thought I would accept the opportunity to take a closer look into this band’s recent release, ‘Reality Dysfunction’.

When the first song hits you after the instrumental intro you realise that you are certainly in for an experience out of the ordinary! Hysterical guitars prance forward immediately, with a percussive barrage that walks an equally erratic path. All of the songs on this album are highly complicated and relatively long, although the riffs and vocals seem to hold them together despite their complexity, so that none of the tracks really drag. What you are provided with here is basically prog metal, but in the most experimental sense, and with a lot more added. Aspects of this band’s sound draw unmistakably from elementary elements of heavy metal, but by the same token this record is based just as heavily on the eccentric worlds of fusion. In short, the barrage of sound that you get from this album is very hard to pin down.

The opening track, ‘Reversal’, is a good example of this, as it will take unpredictable U-turns at every stage, morphing from crushing groove sections to melancholic prog rock passages with the vocals slithering from place to place at every junction. The band seem to have been very adventurous in terms of fusing this plethora of influences, and it certainly isn’t something to put on in the background and expect to fully appreciate. In this way I suppose it is for quite a selective audience, that being those who are open to experiment and real diversity, and who are prepared to take in the whole range of a sound that can’t really be fully absorbed without complete attention. For this reason, it is perhaps not something that your typical metal fan would want to indulge in, because for as impressive as the songs are they can seem somewhat taxing on the attention fan of the casual listener. Saying this, there are still passages to this album that are completely memorable, and riffs that are still catchy despite their unorthodoxy.

This aside, what you have hear – if you are prepared to delve into it – is an ocean of sound and quite visionary musicianship. The guitars in particular seem to weave in with the drums in an irregular but consistent tapestry of sound. It may sound odd, but that is the best way of describing it, and each member of the group is certainly pulling his weight. The sound includes sweeping guitar shredding, slower pulsing riffs, and some brain-twisting drum work. They also seem to be partial to using extracts from media recordings like television reports, which feature quite prominently in most songs. It puzzles me with this sort of music how the band remember the structures of each song, because for the listener they are certainly too busy to remember in their entirety after one listen! I suppose this is just the appeal with this style though, and it really has to be heard to be understood.
For the inquisitive, adventurous fan of any form of metal, but particularly the lovers of progressive styles, this album is fully worth getting hold of, and it will not disappoint. Not for the everyday listener I would say, but if you do listen to it, expect to be immersed with a myriad of concepts and ideas that will keep you guessing right to the end.

Rating: 9/10.

James Ashbey

www.tartareandesire.com

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