Tarot - For The Glory Of Nothing


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Blastic Heaven/Zero Corporation
Catalog Number: BHR 3347 2 / XRCN-2036
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:15:00

It's time for this underrated, unnoticed Finnish band to emerge as a major player in the power / prog metal stadium. This band has been around for years, steadily putting out quality disc after disc without even a small buzz to accompany each of their releases. I will admit, that the band is quirky, or at least their last few discs were, yet somehow they intrigued me along the way. With the release of their latest, For The Glory Of Nothing, the band is finally making their statement loud and clear. This is quality, melodic, power / prog metal make no mistake about it, and to my ears their best to date. It would be hard for me to go back so many years to talk about their earlier discs, but each one in it's own right was well worth the purchase price, and if I said that the band has done something different here, I might be making a false statement. This band has always strived for great sound, unique style, and always throwing little quirks along the way to either make or break the listener. Even the above average singer this band sports has a quirky voice that will either make you or break you. It would seem that this band thrives on quirkiness, or they don't want to appeal to just anyone - you either love these guys or hate them. With this disc, it's almost impossible not to love this band.

THE STYLE:

Well, up to now, I've been at a loss for words to describe this band over the past couple of years; and even now I will still be at somewhat of a loss to give an exact description of what this band sounds like, but I think that the more accessible approach and less progressive / quirky sounds might make it easier for me. Not that I don't like their previous material, but it is very hard to describe. I would have to say that this band sounds like a cross between heavy guitar driven German power metal crossed with some Tony Iommi-ish guitar sound (heavy/crunchy), mixed in with some modern day Deep Purple and some Tad Morosian darkness for the hell of it. Yes I know, try to figure that one...... however, when you hear this music, you can't help imagining Tony Iommi fronting some German power metal band with Deep Purple influences surrounded by the Tad Morose darkness; and the quirkiness comes from their name Tarot - in which they inject some Gypsy-like keyboards / atmosphere into the music, making this one hell of a combination. All I can think of when I hear this music, is a bunch of guys all dressed in black, playing for a bunch of gypsies telling fortunes outside in some dark, wooded area with campfires lit up all over the place. This band is truly atmospheric.

If I've confused you with the descriptors, one listen to any of their material will at least confirm part of my description of this band. Overall, the music is crunchy, heavy, ranging from slow gloom and doom undertones to some speedy Deep Purple-esque type tunes. Atmospheric keyboards (always sounding ominous), tambourines, acoustic guitars, crunching guitars, thunderous drums, earth shaking bass and intense vocals are finally going to bring this band out into the light despite their obscurity and darkly portrayed music. There are tons of vocal harmonies accompanying the powerful music, and even though this is their most accessible music to date, it still remains vintage Tarot; there is no doubt who this band is when they start playing - the vibe they give off is truly amazing and the atmosphere can be felt immediately.

THE BAND:

Marco Hietala / Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Zachary Hietala / Guitars
Janne Tolsa / Keyboards
Pecu Cinnari / Drums

This is a total collaboration of instruments to create such an atmosphere - even though the crunching guitars will stand out immediately causing one to think that this is just another average power metal band, the vocals and keyboards arrive on the scene to give this it's dark and morose undertones. Being the only guitarist in the band and having the responsibility of driving the heaviness of this sound, you can't help but focus on Zachary Hietala. Sounding tonally like Mr. Iommi himself, Hietala blends the sounds of Iommi with the dexterity of Richie Blackmore into a buzzsaw of a sound. Heavy, crunching, doom laden at times, the guitar sound alone is enough to make power metal fans drooling for more...... the bass is low, pounding, and a superb complement to the guitar adding in even more heaviness to the sound. The drums keep time wonderfully to all of the changing moods of this music - having to change pace at every turn and with ease.

Then, the keyboards kick in. It's here that this band gets it's atmosphere from. Using a wide variety of sounds, from synth, to strings, to Deep Purple-ish type organ, to bells, chimes and anything else this guy can think of gives this band it's Gypsy-like sounds....... the keyboard are always melodic, even beautiful at times, and the contrast between the aggressive / in your face / balls to the wall guitar / bass sound and the beautiful, eery, melodic keyboards make this one of the most melodic power metal bands I have heard in a long time........

THE VOCALS:

In music, there are all kinds of singers..... and we put an emphasis on certain qualities of those singers to deem them gods. From high pitched operatic singers, to mid-range pleasant singers, to low toned bass-like singers, to aggressive growlers, we have our heroes..... well, I'm adding Marco Hietala to my list of heroes in the long and distinguished line of singers that reside there. I liken his performance to that of Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation - in that he is VERY versatile, being able to sing in a gruff, low, aggressive style, to a soft whisper, to a mid-range sound, all the way up to a high pitch if necessary..... Hietala is from that same breed of singer who possesses not only a great voice, but an uncanny ability to diversify that voice in such a manner that makes each song sound incredibly interesting.

First off - if I had problems describing the band, let me now try to describe this unique voice as well. I'd have to say that Hietala sounds like a strange cross between Ian Gillan, Dio, and Graham Bonnet ...... if that sounds interesting, then you wouldn't believe what this guy can do with his voice. From a low whisper, almost female-like, to a nice, pleasant mid-range tone ( Dio ), to a gruff, gravely style approach like that of Graham Bonnet..... the most amazing thing about this guy is his ability to create great vocal harmonies. The diverse voice allows him to sound like about 5 different people singing at once when this guy overdubs himself, and he never dubs the same voice - it always sounds like the entire band might be helping out even though none of them are credited with vocals. In his earlier days, Hietala almost sang in an irritating manner at times, and didn't seem to have quite the handle on his style - meaning that I think he has found hinself on this disc.... the voice was always there, it's just that he's cranked it up a notch or two and it certainly sounds like he is going for the gold here. Oh, listen for Timo Kotipelto ( Stratovarius ) doing some background vocals on the song, "Warhead"........

THE PRODUCTION:

Immaculate is the word that comes to mind. This is clean, precise and thunderous. Tarot discs have always had great productions, bar none, but this one seems just a bit heavier in the bass dept and maybe a bit clearer in the guitar dept. I'm not sure if they've changed producers along the way, but this disc just screams clarity. Every instrument stands out in the sound, and is precisely placed in the mix. I dare anyone to find fault with this sound. It is one, great sounding power filled disc...... it just starts by grabbing you by the throat and holds on until the weird, once again quirky ending, but throughout this maze of madness, the sound in absolutely phenomenal ...... crank this up just to hear what a superb recording really sounds like.

THE COMMENTS:

I don't usually get this excited about power metal..... but, Tarot is more progressive than most power metal bands and certainly one of the most interesting I've heard. When it's played this well and with such conviction and wrapped in a strange atmosphere that you can't explain but just feel, then I'm listening. When you first see the artwork that this band displays on each of their discs, you know you are in for something different. The blackness that is smeared over most of the inside of the CD booklet also give away it's dark, gloomy atmosphere. The Gypsy-like symbols also give you that quirky, strange feel I keep trying to explain; you just know something is different about this band......

I've liked their previous disc, but I'm overwhelmed with this one. It may be the more accessible approach, even though I'm a prog freak - it may be the incredible vocal performance - it may be that the band has finally found that certain chemistry within themselves that has hit a nerve in me as well..... whatever the cause, this is without a doubt a headbanging, ass kicking disc that will leave you hankering for more - that's when you hit the REPEAT button and let this baby do it's thing over and over again. This disc will get it's due credits, as I won't let this thing rest until this band comes out into the light long enough for everyone to check them out...... Power metal fans should take note of this band as well as melodic / prog metal fans that want just bit more bite to their steady diet; whatever the case, this band is making a statement, and I'm listening intently...... I highly recommend this disc - it's a winner..........


Tracklisting:
Crawlspace (3:37) / Warhead (6:00) / I'm Here (3:56) / Shining Black (7:03) / Beyond Troy (5:37) / Dark Star Burning (4:25) / The Scourger (4:40) / Ghosts Of Me (5:28) / The Punishment (4:01) / Ice (6:28)

Musicians:
Janne Tolsa - keyboards
Pecu Cinnari - drums
Zachary Hietala - guitars
Marco Hietala - vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
Purple Salmela - additional vocals
Timo Kotipelto - additional vocals
Nalle Rissanen - additional guitar

Discography:
Spell Of Iron (1986/1994)
Follow Me Into Madness (1988/1994)
To Live Forever (1993)
To Live Again (live) (1994)
Stigmata (2cd) (1995)
Stigmata (1cd) (1995)
For The Glory Of Nothing (1998)


Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FI

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.wingsofdarkness.net
Hits: 877
Language: english

  

[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]