Tarot
Suffer Our Pleasures


5.0
classic

Review

by Steerpike USER (24 Reviews)
June 20th, 2006 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


By now, many metalheads are very familiar with the name Marco Hietala. Heís made quite a reputation for himself for working in Sinergy and more importantly, Nightwish. His thundering bass lines and melodramatic vocals are becoming a force to be reckoned with. This fame has helped to draw much more attention to the first band he ever formed and still plays in, both accomplishments done alongside his brother Zachary: Tarot.

Suffer Our Pleasures was coaxed out of the band by Spinefarm Records during speculation that there would never be another Tarot album. Tarot has always believed in quality over quantity. Their albums are divided by long periods of silence, sometimes of five years plus. But this emphasis on waiting to release an album until itís perfect has resulted in one of the most consistent and brilliant, if underrated, metal acts of our time. Suffer Our Pleasures is without a doubt a modern metal classic.

To start with, the most obvious strengths of the album lie in its aggressive guitarwork and soaring vocals. Zachary Hietala plays a great assortment of headbanging riffs such as the intro to I Rule, which opens to album kicking and screaming. He makes very delightful use of pinch harmonics, but not to the obnoxious extent that you see with Zakk Wylde. Zachary reserves them for moments of emphasis and mixes it in with very clever riffing that breaks away from many of the stereotypes of metal. For example, the main riff to Pyre of Gods uses a simple chord progression, but the root chord (D5) dominates all but the ending of the riff. The reason it doesnít sound repetitive is because of the melody. Most composers will tell you that rests can be just as important as the notes themselves, and this particular song proves just that.

Of course, Zachary does demonstrate more variety than just power chords. He has his share of blazing solos on most of the songs, including that creates a sort of ďcall and response" vibe with the backing vocals in Rider of the Last Dawn. And thatís not to count short his excellent single-note melody riffs spread across the album in just the right places.

Marco accompanies Zachary with his usual pounding bass. Most of the time he tends to follow the guitar, but heís high enough in the mix that rather than fading out, he actually beefs up the riffs into something much more aggressive and driving. Of course, his primary focus is of course on his vocals. He displays a great range of emotion throughout the album. In I Rule he starts out with a rather sinister, low sneer before going into a full out war cry in the chorus. He also manages to display a softer side to his voice in tracks such as Rider of the Last Day and Painless.

As most power metal writers do, Marco tends to create sing-along choruses with a soaring melodies designed to get crowds going. Even more infectious is an almost maniacal tone to his voice. The best example of this would be found in the outro of Follow the Blind which fades out to echoed laughter.

Another intriguing aspect of the music is the synthesizer. Janne Tolsa didnít join the band until their second album, but he adds a lot of rich textures to the music with his keyboards. He provides some great intros and melodies to songs such as Pyre of Gods, Rider of the Last Day, I Rule and Follow the Blind. At other times, such as in Undead Son and Of Time and Dust, he provides more atmosphere which heightens the dramatic air of the music greatly.

One occasionally will hear from elitists that keyboards do not belong in metal. This is just a load of meaningless crap really from people unable to accept a new paradigm, as anyone listening to this album would agree that the keys add an essential dimension to the music, which a vocals/guitar/bass/drums combo simply couldnít achieve by themselves.

As for diversity in the songwriting, the album really covers the bases. I Rule and Pure of Gods open the album with headbanging flair and adrenaline. It then makes way to a slower, moodier number in Ride of the Last Day which clocks in as the longest song on the album. Follow the Blind and Undead Son follow in the vein of the album openers as more fast-paced, metal anthems. Of Time and Dust is another of the slower songs, approaching something like a ballad. Itís followed up by a mid-tempo rocker, From the Void, which pulls the slack back up very gradually and masterfully. Convulsions continues the ascent into aggression and speed as well as some of the albumís best keyboard textures. From the Shadows has a rather surprising guitar intro that takes you off-guard before kicking into a very frenetically energetic metal anthem that includes a keyboard solo. The album closes with Marco showing off his classical guitar skills in Painless which ends the album on a sort of cool down period that also leaves inklings of anxiety behind.

Put together, Suffer Our Pleasures is an album that grabs the listener by the throat and doesnít relinquish the grip for an instant. The band cover as much musical ground as they possibly can in 10 tracks, and do a superb job of it. From the pulse-pounding intensity of Follow the Blind to the dreary melodrama of Of Time and Dust, every track on the album delivers something new and powerful.

As Iíve said, Tarot is a band that emphasizes quality over quantity. Though fans do wish there could be more albums like this, weíre willing to accept that you canít rush genius work like this.



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user ratings (32)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Greg Viessman (4.5)
This is how you do straight up heavy metal....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2006


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

God am I glad I don't talk to metal elitists and here that keyboard crap.
Good review; I was suckered into listening to this album, and while I don't think its classic, its some excellent stuff. Follow the Blind plain kicks ass.

Tyler
Emeritus
June 20th 2006


7926 Comments


I love "I Rule", if only for the lyrics.

temporary
June 20th 2006


207 Comments


I know a bit of Tarot and I definitly like what I hear. I should probably check out this album. Nice review, too.

Det_Nosnip
June 21st 2006


374 Comments


Awesome review, man. "Pyre of Gods" is cool as hell...I've been trying to find the rest of the album for a while now, though. I wish Tarot would tour outside of their native Finland...they'd be a riot live! Maybe NW will take them along after they find a replacement for Tarja...that is, if Marco is up to the job of two rounds of singing.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 21st 2006


4405 Comments


This is a very good review. Great job dude.

Steerpike
June 21st 2006


1861 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is my first attempt in a while to break away from TBT, so it's gratifying to see I got it right. I would have included some comments on the drums, but I don't think I have enough knowledge about such things to effectively comment just yet.

MetalOz
June 21st 2006


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album kicks ass and that is an excellent review... MORE TAROT!

Synthetical
June 21st 2006


2 Comments


Love the songs I have from this Album. Ordered it and since its an import its going to take 8-12 weeks. You've only made me want it even more Steerpike, shame, shame on you. Someone should send me it, help a fellow metalhead out. Excellente' review, Steerpike.This Message Edited On 06.21.06

Shattered_Future
June 21st 2006


1540 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You've hit the right note with this review here. Much better than the last one I read by you...bravo.

As for Tarot, it's got Marco in it. That's a guaranteed recipie for success. His vocals are some of the best I've ever heard, and the backing band conjures up that uber heavy metal vibe absolutely perfectly.

kdigg
June 22nd 2006


10 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

After reading this review I was compelled to check the cd out. Needless to say this cd is quite excellent although I do feel that it is nowhere near a classic.

Steerpike
December 1st 2006


1861 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You need to seriously up your metal quotient if you don't like Marco Hietala.

Steerpike
December 1st 2006


1861 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Marco is of the Dio school of singing, so he tends to rely on a melodramatic snarl. I personally think it sounds great, especially in the context of the music.

Confessed2005
December 1st 2006


3314 Comments


Wasn't Alexi Laiho in Sinergy?

Steerpike
December 1st 2006


1861 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Sinergy is Alexi's sideproject with his ex-wife Kimberly Goss.

metallicaman8
December 1st 2006


4677 Comments


Great review. I might check this out.

Ayashi
August 18th 2007


267 Comments


While this CD is IMO not quite a classic, it's pretty damn near it :D Tarot is one of my favorite bands This Message Edited On 08.18.07

Shattered_Future
August 18th 2007


1540 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I found that I've started loving From The Shadows. It almost reminds me of bluegrass or rockabilly, but with an unholy amount of distortion.

Poet
February 18th 2008


5933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I RULE!!!!!!!

Greatest song to ever make one feel like a god.

Mikesn
Emeritus
February 18th 2008


3709 Comments


I'm not sure what everyone sees in Tarot. I never really got into their music.

Poet
February 28th 2008


5933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You are missing out Mike. They are the heaviest metal band I have ever heard that doesn't use any types of growling.



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