Album Reviews

Album Review: TANTRIC – Mercury Retrograde

Pavement Entertainment | 5 October 2018

TANTRICI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there are some bands that you just know what you’re going to get, even before you listen to them. No-one’s expecting to listen to Cannibal Corpse and hear something nice and uplifting. With a name like Tantric, however, this could really go anywhere – would their songs be long and meaningful, the equivalent of a song staring into your ears, or would their name be more ironic, just smashing you in the face with their musical awesomeness? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Less than two seconds into the opening song, Angry, it’s pretty clear which this is going to be – with a thudding drumbeat and the near-growl of Hugo Ferreira, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t going to be a relaxing experience. In the best possible way, of course – immediately, this is the sort of music that makes you run that little bit faster when you’re out for a run/jog/meander. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Tether, on the other hand, starts off (dare I say it) almost softly. It’s not quite hitting ballad territory (I should probably whisper that…), but there’s a sense of feeling to this song. This sense keeps up even when we hit the chorus, and it becomes the sort of song that could easily become a crowd-pleaser at even the biggest of gigs.

Get Em All starts with an almost country vibe to it – it’s hard to really put your finger on it, but it feels subtly different to the previous two tracks…but in the best possible way. Often, you’ll get a band who find a sound and stick to it, meaning that although their songs are all different, they just feel the same. That’s clearly not an issue with Tantric.

From the opening of Before You Could Crawl, it’s clear that this is a bit of an epic song. Everything feels ramped up to eleven here, and it’s another song that could easily become a staple of the band’s live set. Lighters in the air, easy enough to sing along to without being too simple…this song is basically a masterclass in how to write a crowd-pleasing song without resorting to oversimplification.

Lie Awake is another curious song, in the best possible way – there’s something akin to a groove going on with the bass and drums, while the vocals really do lean more towards a grunge/nu metal style. Think Linkin Park – the way they were always able to get so much into so few words, so much emotion. That’s what this song feels like. 

My Forever starts off with an intensely beautiful piano piece – there isn’t much to it, but given the power of the previous songs, this is a welcome release back to the world of “near-ballad”. There’s definitely a running theme of Tantric being able to fit more meaning and emotion into the lyrics of their songs than most other bands, and that’s even before you add in Hugo Ferreira’s frankly astonishing voice. These songs just wouldn’t sound the same sung by anyone else.

Wannabe  continues the theme of being pretty distinct from everything that has gone before it. It’s hard to categorise this song, as it really does fall between grunge, rock and the Linkin Park vibe that I mentioned before, even going so far as to bring the backing vocals much more to the fore. 

The Last Stumble is probably the most ‘mainstream’ of all the songs on the album, so far at least. It’s the sort of song that wouldn’t be out of place being played on the radio (and quite honestly, I’d love to hear this get a lot more airplay!). It feels at once familiar, yet new as well – the sort of song you feel you’ve heard before, but know you haven’t…because if you had, it’d be on your Spotify playlist by now.

Letting Go, the last “new” song on the album (number 10 is an acoustic mix that we’ll come to in a minute), keeps us in the rocky goodness that this entire album has given us. It’s another song that has an air of “crowd participation” to it – it’s almost addictive to listen to, and the guitar solo is something else. As a way to close an album, this is definitely up there.

Finally, we have an acoustic mix of My Forever. Now, given how rocky (yet not quite heavy) the rest of the album has been, this may seem like an unusual way to end an album – or indeed, to be on the album in the first place. But My Forever isn’t like the other songs on this album. Making it acoustic just makes it that bit more beautiful. Think Alter Bridge performing something like Blackbird or Watch Over You – it’s definitely up there.

I’m not always a fan of acoustic music – it’s growing on me, but I tend to prefer the sheer power of an electric guitar. This version, however, would make me reconsider. In fact, if I ever get the chance to see Tantric play, I’d love to see them perform the acoustic version of My Forever. That’s how good it is.

Overall, this is one hell of an album. Given that I knew nothing about Tantric before reviewing this album (and I didn’t want to Google them at work…), this is probably enough to make me search out their back catalogue and give them a listen. Definitely, one to listen to.

 

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