Review Summary: All I see is darkness…
A careful look at the back catalogue of the power/progressive (early), power/thrash (later) metal outfit Tad Morose from Bollnäs, Sweden, will reveal an interesting pattern. The activity of the band is divided into two distinct periods sharing a common attribute, the notable improvement with each subsequent full-length release per period. During the ‘90s, the band became known within the power/progressive metal circuit with the release of three albums. The third one, 1997’s A Mended Rhyme
saw the band shifting from the keyboard driven melody of the two previous albums (especially Sender of Thoughts
) to a much more engaging balance between the said sound and a more upbeat, aggressive take on power metal.
Unfortunately, a 5-year period of silence followed the release of Mended Rhyme
and halted the further refinement of that album in future endeavors, as it was difficult for the band to ink a new record deal. Most fortunately however, Century Media Records decided to sign the band in 1998 and with a second guitar replacing the keyboards, Tad Morose became a straight-up power metal outfit. During the period 2001-2003, the band recorded three albums, whose merit ranked between “great” and “monumental”. Modus Vivendi
(2003) in particular, lies among the best power/thrash metal albums ever recorded, but some times a near-perfect album can be a blessing as much as it can become a curse. Urban Breed decided to leave the band in 2006, and scheduled recording sessions for a new album were suspended. After several line-up changes and with real life issues constantly getting in the way, Tad Morose joined forces with newly founded Swedish label Despotz Records and a new album entitled Revenant
was released, an album signifying the start of a prosperous era for the band.
As expected, the new Tad Morose album extends the band’s power/thrash metal storytelling, right from where Modus Vivendi
had concluded. The first strategic move in the said respect on behalf of the band, is no other than the recruitment of vocalist Ronny Hemlin, a musician known to Tad Morose from the second album of Inmoria (a band which features ex and current Tad Morose members). Hemlin is in charge of a powerful, clean voice with an impeccable vibrato, in the vein of Tim “Ripper” Owens. The said attributes are ideal for the narration of the album’s ominous lyrical content and the adaptation to the devastating choruses of songs such as “Beneath a Veil of Crying Souls” and “Within a Dream”. The rest of the band does not fall short either. The trademark “Bollnäs power/thrash metal” sound is (more than) convincingly reproduced, although it feels darker than in before (check the “goth” keyboards in the album’s rear). Moreover, Tad Morose have included elements from Swedish power/doom metal and outfits such as Memory Garden (for example in the song “Ares”), whereas they appear to dig Painkiller
-era Judas Priest all too much (for instance, check “Death Embrace”), as the shell of several songs is decorated accordingly.
Despite the album’s great merit, certain pitfalls seem to have not been avoided. First of all, the sound production, although it’s clean and powerful in principle, it fails to conceal its digital origin, and ends up detracting power, primarily from the rhythm section and (at a much lesser but perceivable extent) the rhythm guitars. Whereas the album would be much better off with 8 or 9 songs, several numbers from the existing track list, could use a more careful proofreading in more respects than one. For example, the Painkiller
-era Judas Priest elements (especially the mid-tempo, double bass “power metal” segments) are used carelessly and greedily, while then main lead guitar melodies per song are adequate, but rather passable overall. Moreover, the rhythm section patterns are going through their motions from a point further, especially in the Judas Priest song segments.
, Tad Morose have started climbing again that very mountain, whose summit they had conquered with Modus Vivendi
. Despite the long period of inactivity and the adverse line-up fluctuations, it seems that the band’s ascension process has started from a much better current status than the corresponding one during the dusk of the ‘90s. As the band has implied in interviews about Revenant
, the aforementioned shortcomings have come as a result of the long period of hiatus and the sudden urgency to conclude work for it, while coping with various deadlines. Looking at their current state of play, the only way for Tad Morose is to raise the stakes and go up. They can do it, they’ve been here before.