Tantal - Expectancy - (8.5/10)
Published on December 18, 2014
Moscow’s Tantal formed in 2004 and new album Expectancy is only their second full-length release. Tantal’s Facebook biography describes the band’s sound as ‘Progressive Melodic Death Metal’, listing their influences as Death, Dream Theater and Symphony X. While there is little progressive about Expectancy and any Dream Theater influence is difficult to detect in the music, there are occasional power metal flourishes, so the Symphony X reference has merit. (Opinions will of course be divided on such things, but speaking personally the lack of similarity with Dream Theater is a triumph rather than a failing!)
It’s safe to call this melodic death metal with clean female vocals provided by Milana Solovitskaya to complement the growls of guest vocalist Vlad Lobanov. There are similarities with bands such as Trail Of Tears, Epica and early Lacuna Coil. Solovitskaya’s vocals are high-pitched, not operatic à la Tristania, Nightwish, etc, but sounding quite poppy at times and with occasional flourishes of Eastern melody. As well as those power metal melodies that crop up now and then, there are thrashy guitars used on some of the tracks.
“Through The Years” is an ambitious start, running at over seven minutes long. There’s nothing particularly complex or progressive, in fact it’s a fairly straight melodic death metal song, so the duration is a risk, but that time passes quickly, which can only be a good sign.
“Expectancy Pt.1 (Desert In My Soul)” is a great example of what Tantal are about, showcasing the trade-off between harsh and melodic vocals to really good effect, with powerful rhythm work, excellent soloing and a catchy, memorable chorus. It’s a very nice tune, but is followed by an even better one, “Echoes Of Failures”, with Milana conveying emotion as well as power, Vlad’s malevolent roar and power metal-sounding lead guitar parts. It hangs together better than this description may suggest and may be Tantal’s finest hour.
“Nothing (Selfish Acts)” gets underway with a chilling sample from the film “Carnival Of Souls” and features a little Eastern melody and more great soloing. “Pain We Must Go Through” is dominated by clean vocals, which switch between melancholic and upbeat. Ironically, Milana uses the upbeat, positive style when singing the anything-but-upbeat lyric, “life is full of pain we must go through”. The song also features a jaunty, power metal-esque solo.
“Expectancy Pt.2 (Despair)” is another standout, with a fantastic guitar solo and an excellent melodic section accompanied by lead guitar towards the end. It perhaps doesn’t flow in places, but is still a great track.
The soloing in “Under The Weight Of My Sorrow I Crawl” leans towards flashy guitar virtuosity, but stops just short of being too showy. The acoustic “In The End Pt.2 (Epitaph)” could be on an indie rock album and “V Moih Glazah” …. well, who could begrudge them a song in their native tongue?
There are occasions when Expectancy lacks a little cohesion and thus it’s not an album that lends itself to furious headbanging, but this is a very minor gripe as almost every song features excellent vocals, catchy melodies and great guitar solos. Highly recommended.