Tad Morose - Modus Vivendi

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8194-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:41:00

From talking with and overhearing the conversations of several prog and power metal fans, lyrics seem to be the last item of consideration. So my telling you that this doesn't deliver satisfactorily for me on this point might rate low on your radar. For me, it's an essential element that makes for an overall stellar package. Structurally, the lyrics here are sound (which isn't always the case), but the music and intensity implies something deeper within? and it just isn't there. However, I will say that the songs aren't so concrete that one can't fashion some interpretation or context for them, one that might even suggest a concept album of a sort. And listening to the album, the songs have the right sonic impact, so?

Anyway, what I think will interest most of you ? and Tad Morose fans especially ? is whether it is any good or not. From a purely performance point of view, it is. The songs sound great. And the production is great, revealing little elements, allowing each instrument the space it needs to do its stuff. And, there is no lack of energy here either, as the band put out enough wattage to light? well, that's a corny analogy. Just know that the swirling energy begins right from the get go with "Anubis" (a highlight) and doesn't really let up for one minute, even when the things are throttled way back for a melodic, sparse chorus or two. A standout in the contrast department is "Cyberdome," which has a chorus that is heavy with emotion and regret while light in the instrumentation department. That's not a criticism, it gives those harder moments more impact. As I am a melodic rock fan as well as a heavy metal and prog rock fan, musically this whole song appeals to me.

Tad Morose's sound reminds me a bit of mid-period Metallica, only a little chuggier and a little more melodic. That is, there a few hints of Metallica from the Master Of Puppets and Ride The Lightning vintage? and add to that a bit of Iron Maiden (mostly in "Mother Shipton's Words") and you have some of the colours of their palette. Modus Vivendi is plenty heavy, part of that certainly due to the thunderous drumming of Peter Moren. A twin guitar attack from Christer Andersson and Daniel Olsson has guitar lines swirling around the throbbing bass of Anders Modd (whose tone here I don't really care for; it sometimes sounds like a flat tire over a speed bump ? but it's a tone I hear a lot in this style). The overall feel of the album is tempered aggression, that aggression tempered by harmonized choruses, vocalist Urban Breed's clean, but at times gruff, vocals, and the elements of melodicism. "Clearly Insane" ups the energy, in a heart-pounding track that scoops you up and slams you against the wall? and comes across as sounding like a crunchier Queensryche. And, oddly enough, there are a few moments in the arrangement where I heard a hints of Led Zeppelin. Breed even yowls a bit like Robert Plant ("Immigrant Song" maybe?*). The guitar interplay at one point in this particular track is beautiful, even while not being mellow or pretty ? in fact, at one point they serve in the role of widdly keyboards, without sounding exactly like keyboards (though looking at credits given elsewhere, Olsson does play some keyboard on the album). "Afraid To Die" is a not too bad song that downshifts just a bit, from higher energy assault.

"Take On The World" has a classic heavy metal feel to it, with the metal feel turned up a couple of notches. Erm... during the chorus, Ratt comes to mind, actually.

"Unwelcome Guest" is their "in the trenches of a war" song ? here a lone soldier on a mission that gives a few nods to Metallica, most certainly to Metallica's "One" in one lyrical couplet. It doesn't sound like "One," mind you. There's a thematic connection though, and it is here, during the instrumental bridge, just before the monster guitar solo, that word pummeling comes to mind, as you are battered about the ears by Modd and Moren.

"Life In A Lonely Grave" is the darkest thematically of the album's 13 tracks and "dirties" up the band's tone a bit, a tad more distortion on the guitars, a tad more gruffness to Breed's voice, putting some sweetly sung choruses in contrast. All without compromising their metal cred. Plaintive but not whiney; one of the better tracks on the album, and at 7-plus minutes, this epic is the longest (the rest fall in the 4-5 minute range).

There are three bonus tracks that are covers. The most surprising of the three is that they tackle Abba's "Knowing Me, Knowing You" ? yes, you read that right, I said Abba? (well, they're both Swedish). The other two covers: Uriah Heep's "Rainbow Demon" and Accept's "Losing More Than You've Ever Had" (none of these are on this promo edition, so I can't share the results with you).

Most of the tracks rock hard, as I've said. Pummeling, punishing, fierce, brutal are all words apply. Overall this Modus Vivendi comes across as very good and solid, but doesn't rise to the level of fantastic. The band seem comfortable and loose, while giving a tight performance? which on a studio album is hard to judge really, because so much is fiddled with, so some credit needs to go to the producer (well, the band themselves) and mixer (Fredrik Nordström). In the end, I like a great deal and think it will satisfy fans of both the band and this style of metal.

(* this is a case where I have a Zep song in my head, and I can't name it, though not for a lack of trying ? but it chugs like "Immigrant Song"?)

Anubis (3:53) / No Mercy (4:14) / Afraid To Die (5:27) / Clearly Insane (3:49) / Cyberdome (4:37) / Take on the World (5:20) / Mother Shipton's Words (4:02) / Unwelcome Guest (4:02) / Life in a Lonely Grave (7:15) / When the Spirit Rules the World (4:41) / Bonus Tracks: Rainbow Demon (4:33) / Knowing Me, Knowing You (3:28) / Losing More Than You Ever Had (5:20)

Urban Breed ? vocals
Christer Andersson ? guitars
Daniel Olsson ? guitars, keyboards
Anders Modd ? bass
Peter Moren ? drums

Leaving The Past Behind (1993)
Sender Of Thoughts (1995)
Paradigma (1995)
A Mended Rhyme (1997)
Undead (2001)
Matters Of The Dark (2002)
Modus Vivendi (2003/2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: April 4th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.tadmorose.com
Hits: 806
Language: english


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