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When technicality and emotion collide. - 94%

hells_unicorn, July 13th, 2007

The Latin language tends to invoke images of grand architecture, stoic figures, and gothic scenery when it graces either the ears or the eyes. If that was the goal of Tacere front person Karri Knuutila when he decided on that name, which means “being silent”, then he succeeded in marrying those images to the 12 songs found on here. Although there are tendencies towards the cliché Beauty and the Beast model of vocal duets first pioneered by Theater of Tragedy and Tristania, the surrounding music tends towards the Power/Prog formula. You can hear influences ranging from Nightwish, Stratovarius, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Lacuna Coil, Fates Warning and a host of other bands spanning several genres. I’m tempted to compare this band to To-Mera, but it would only apply insofar as both bands being innovative, as Tacere doesn’t quite have the seemingly off-the-cuff changes that make you think you’re listening to 3 or 4 songs of contrasting styles merged together into one super-song.

The album kicks off with the seemingly radio-friendly single “Deep Tears of Tragedy”, with an electronic drum track reminding a little of recent Nightwish, but with a much more metal edge and a hell of a lot of development. “Excursion” has some great speed metal sections and a beautifully dark church organ interlude that conjures up images of Peter Steele contemplating his own demise. “A Voice in the Dark” sounds a bit similar to something that Morten Veland might have dreamed up during the early days of Sirenia; although it doesn’t stay uniformly slow and doom-like the whole time. “Born of the Ground” features the best vocal performance by Helena Haaparanta, as well as some rather fancy riff work and some keyboard sounds that remind me heavily of Adagio’s better work.

From start to finish, this album doesn’t relent and continues to surprise the listener. “Bitter, Repressive” is a rapid fire speed metal track with some off-the-cuff progressive elements that would sit well with the likes of Anubis Gate and Pagan’s Mind. The brief choral interlude “Beyond Silence” would be at home in the vocal compositions of various late Romantic era maestros. The title track is sort of an operatic ballad, although it switches up a lot and emulates several ballads from the Symphony X back catalog. The closing track “Into Your Dreams” has some fancy bass fill-ins that pop in and out, in addition to a rather brilliant vocal delivery by Karri Knuutila, whose gravely baritone fits the melancholy backdrop of the song quite well.

The most impressive aspect of this album is that it is self-produced by Karri, who also writes the music of all the songs found on here. When you listen to the album after reading the insert, it is not difficult to picture a genius toiling over his instruments and gear for months upon months conceptualizing this opus. Although many of these songs are either under 4 minutes or barely break the 4 minute mark, the sheer amount of changes and differing ideas thrown in makes them last seemingly twice as long. Through it all, he also avoids the trap of becoming too progressive and thus ceasing to be songs that are consumable to the average ear.

If you like your metal fancy, grandiose, and emotionally charged then this album comes highly recommended. The Goths get their dark imagery and Latin choirs, the Prog-heads get their fancy musicianship and diverse structural approaches, and the power metal faithful get the mandatory speed and solid drum work. Anyone who reads this review is encouraged to look on Tacere’s myspace page as well, that is how I discovered the band. Karri is a really cool guy and was able to hook me up with a copy of this album free of charge through his label, though I would have gladly paid the mandatory $22 plus to get it imported after hearing it.