I have to admit that I was more than slightly surprised to read that TAROT were two decades old when I first came across their latest offering, after a five year hiatus, entitled "Suffer Our Pleasures". To maintain a working outfit for twenty years is no small feat, so understandably my expectations were higher than they usually are for promos from unknown bands, which TAROT were.
So did this album meet my expectations? Well I was never floored by "Suffer Our Pleasures", which stylistically bridges the gap between old school Heavy Metal and modern Power Metal, but I would be a fool to call this record weak. When it comes to seasoned musicians such as those TAROT is comprised of, you know the playing is going to be tight and enjoyable, which is exactly what you get. The riffs soar alongside singer Marco Hietala's stellar vocals (NIGHTWISH) while the ever present yet never overblown keyboards nicely round out the overall package. As for the songs themselves, be ready for a nice mix of straight up heavy anthems and mid paced pieces chock full of the unbridled catchiness and technical solos you've come to know and love from European Heavy/Power Metal bands.
The downside? "Suffer Our Pleasures" is nothing really special. Sure it has it's moments but when it comes to this style of metal, you need something special to remain relevant which unfortunately, aside from Marco's vocal performance, TAROT does not have. Then again, maybe TAROT don't care about the current trends within the scene and are just playing Metal for Metal's sake because that's what they've been doing for the past 20 years? I guess only they know.
Power Metal and classic metal fans should probably check this one out, but those who think they've already heard this before are probably right (but should check it out anyways just to hear Marco sing). A solid record overall, I can't help but expect more from a band who have been at it for as long as TAROT. It seems solid is a word I would rather use to describe a debut release rather than a veteran one. (Online September 15, 2004)