Review Summary: The band with a mission - Though commercially unsuccessful throughout their career, Tarot aren't quitters.
Released in 2003, the Shining Black is Tarot at their best. The band, who started as an Iron Maiden cover group, have come a very long way since forming back in early 80's. Tarot have always had and always will have a very special spot in my heart. Everything about this band is perfect - every member of the band is extremely talented at what they do, and Marco Hietala, the lead singer, is one of, if not THE most talented vocalist in the world and he will forever be my idol.
Sadly, Tarot's career has always been shadowed by sheer bad luck. One can say that Tarot were the heavy metal pioneers of Finland, and people just weren't ready for their pompous and epic sound. In the late 80's, old school heavy metal gave way to new, different subspecies and the Hietala brothers found themselves in between a rock and a hard place. Recording stopped for five years, but in 1993 they returned with To Live Forever
, an album that represented a new, progressive approach. Stigmata
, released in 1995, wasn't much different compared to To Live Forever, though a solid follow-up nonetheless. In 1998, 'For the Glory of Nothing' was released, and it can be seen as a shining crown of their musical career. Like the title suggests, For the Glory of Nothing consists of immense anger. It started to seem certain that they would never become successful, and it was really getting to the boys of Tarot. They managed to channel all that frustration into awesome metal tunes, and the result was more than satisfying!
was the first Tarot album I picked up. I was shopping at a flea market and when I spotted the album lying on the table, I didn't hesitate for one moment even though the record was overpriced! I had heard of the band before and what better way is there to introduce yourself to a new band than buying a best-of?
I usually don't approve of the track listings of my favorite band's best-of's, but Shining Black manages to be an exception in that area, too. While it is focuses pretty heavily on the first album, it's more than acceptable given the fact that it has the most jewels and is obviously their best!
For me, the fact that these guys never became popular is one of metal's greatest tragedies. Even after being together for over seventeen years, very few people know about them, and an even smaller portion ever buys their albums. Everyone who likes the least bit of rock or metal will
want to check this album out, because it really has it all. Every single track on this record consists of sheer brilliance. One will not need to be scared by the amount of live tracks on the second CD, either, because I would even go as far as to state that these guys are better live than, say, Iron Maiden. And that is why I cannot give this album any less than five stars. Give these guys a chance - you will not regret it.
However, the question remains - who the HELL would ever put this record up for sale at a flea market?
Wings of Darkness
Live Hard Die Hard