Tanith - In Another Time - (9/10)
Published on June 17, 2019
The Ghost of a Primeval Past.
The relatively recent phenomenon of retro-heavy metal reminiscence could be likened to a seasoned veteran going on to a youthful audience about the need to get back to the good old days. This lecture varies a bit from one old-timer to the next, even though most bands in this capacity are comprised predominantly of younger musicians, and usually ranges in quality based on the kind of accompanying tale being told. For the recently birthed, Brooklyn-based epic outfit dubbed Tanith, the tale is a vivid adventure tale comparable to those old 1970s and early 80s animated renditions of Tolkien’s works, and with the added benefit of having an original icon of the NWOBHM in Satan’s Russ Tippins to assist in the telling. Thus stands In Another Time, a full on throwback to the late 70s to close out the curious decade that has been the 2010s, yet also a fresh offering that totally emulates the archaic rock/metal sound of 40 years past while presenting it in a way that was not heard at the time.
A litany of prominent bands from the earliest days of the British heavy metal scene and elsewhere come to mind when considering the nimble, engaging mode of musical storytelling on display here. Perhaps the most obvious comparison from a sonic perspective would be the early days of Iron Maiden when Paul Di’Anno was at the helm, alongside maybe a dash of late 70s Judas Priest after the mold of Stained Class, particularly when considering the more heavily distorted character of the lead guitar work. But from an angle of songwriting and stylistic expression, this band has all the makings of a Thin Lizzy tribute band with maybe a side order of Uriah Heep, right down to the airy vocal swagger of Russ Tippins, combined with a dueling harmonized guitar style indicative of a heavy Gorham and Robinson influence, while the flashy guitar soloing definitely shows traces of Gary Moore. The only aspect of this album that doesn’t scream overt Thin Lizzy influences is the inclusion of a female vocal foil in bassist Cindy Maynard, who definitely imbues band’s old rock sound with a sort of early doom meets folk sensibility to go with the lofty tales told in the lyrics.
As with any retro-based album, there is a very obvious and concerted effort to recapture the original atmosphere of the time period in question, and this album accomplishes it almost to a fault. From the noodling, Steve Harris inspired bass work and comparatively busy lead riffing that dominates every moment the vocals are absent on “Cassini’s Deadly Plunge” to more cruising fits of mixed up goodness like “Mountain” and “Wing Of The Owl (Gatantia, Pt. 3)”, this album sounds like the epic predecessor to Iron Maiden’s actual debut album that was never written meets the more metallic version of Jailbreak that couldn’t have been recorded in 1976. Further stirring the pot are a handful of more acoustically driven romps like “Eleven Years” and the folksy cruiser “Under The Stars” that accomplish the same basic idea that has driven Slough Feg since their inception, yet manages to get ever so closer to an authentic rendition of the original early sound. It truly gets difficult to tell where this band ends and a number of actual classic Uriah Heep and Blue Oyster Cult songs begin.
Though it is a little bit of a stretch to state that there is no comparable precedent for what is going on here at some point in metal’s history, even among the most archaic of offerings by the likes of Manilla Road, Brocas Helm and Heavy Load was there anything that sounded quite like this. There is a certain mystique to the way the soft, airy tenor of Tippins’ vocals harmonize with Maynard’s slightly higher pitched yet similarly geared croons that creates a sort of metallic equivalent of Simon and Garfunkle, over top a musical arrangement that is similarly of a folksy nature, yet at a crossroads between where metal would be in 1982 when things started getting more intense and the lighter mode of hard rock that was still being exemplified by the likes of Angel Witch and Demon. No self-respecting fan of old school heavy metal, particularly the iconic acts associated with the NWOBHM should go without hearing this album, and even those that go in traditional doom circles may want to consider this intricate assortment of brilliant throwbacks.