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Towboys From Tell - 85%

SweetLeaf95, November 5th, 2017

Hailing from a place that's known for black metal, Tantara are a band that avoided that circle of music and managed to produce a thrash metal record with a whole wad of approaches that can't be pinned down to one particular sound. These Norwegian beasts dropped Based On Evil back in 2012, and haven't put anything out since, so this monster is what's keeping their flame from burning out. A lot of musical capability is present, and executed pretty well, but it can get heavy handed in some areas.

Right off the bat, they drill us with crushing speed driven riffs and heavy drum kicks that stay rather consistent throughout most of this record. It does, however, leak into softer territories utilizing cleaner guitars played at a slower tempo, such as in "Mass Murder", or the intro to "The Killing Of Mother Earth". For the most part, they're used as bridges to heavier parts, as the following track "Negligible Souls" picks it right back up, with a solid transition back into the heaviness. One of Based On Evil's strongest features is how every song transitions into the next one very smoothly. Signs of prog are present here, and it's absolutely flooded with insane guitar work, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it a "progressive thrash" record. In the grand scheme of things, it's mostly influenced by the classic, riff-happy, thrash acts. Every song eventually returns to the traditional speed metal sound. So despite flowing nicely, sometimes some of the solos can seem out of place within the songs, even though they aren't bad by any means.

Production on this is pretty clean, and the guitars are clear as day, taking the forefront along with the drums. One gripe that I do have is that I'm not a huge fan of Fredrik's vocals. It's as if they were meant to sound like Kreator, but can't quite get a grip on how to execute it, and it ends up coming off as outbursts with insufficient force behind them. Not saying that they aren't aggressive, but they aren't up to par with the music. Thankfully, due to the mixing, they're drowned out a little bit by the instruments, and don't take too much away. Plus, the gang vocals that are present on almost every track definitely fit better too, so that also helps out with it.

Based On Evil took me about four listens to really get into it, so it's definitely one of those records that you have to let grow on you. A ball of heavy thrash riffs with insane proggy solos everywhere, slow and smooth transitions, and gang vocals can be a lot to swallow at once. It could be organized better, and the vocals need some work, but overall it's worth buying, or at least a listen.

Based on the familiar, but slays like brand new. - 94%

hells_unicorn, June 18th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Indie Recordings

There's been a growing trend of late in thrash metal where tribute bands start writing their own material, sounding extremely similar to the bands they were originally paying tribute to in the process, then managing to do what their inspirations were not able to do back in the early 90s, namely writing compelling albums. Metallica has, of late, received a healthy dose of partial tribute from the likes of Evile, and more recently Unchained Beast which puts their post ...And Justice For All work to shame. One might be tempted to add the Norwegian act Tantara to the growing fold despite them never being an official tribute band per say, especially since their early exploits caught the attention of legendary Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen, whom likewise took Evile under his wing for the recording of their seminal debut Enter The Grave. However, the musical picture painted on this band's highly ambitious debut Based On Evil functions on a fairly broader level.

Pound for pound, this album is an absolute wrecking machine, summing up what was exciting yet somewhat challenging to most audiences in the twilight days of 80s thrash metal. In contrast to their British counterparts Evile, Tantara is not just a slightly more Master Of Puppets version of the popular early to mid 80s thrash primitivism that has permeated much of the ongoing thrash metal revival, but are more of a strongly technical affirmation of a less traveled road nowadays, namely the longer-winded, epic obsessed amalgamation of the Bay Area sound that cropped up immediately after Metallica's widely heralded 1986 opus. Bits and pieces of the high octane character of Death Angel's The Ultra-Violence and Vio-Lence's Eternal Nightmare end up trading blows with the elaborate precision of Forbidden's Twisted Into Form and the balladry steeped Testament sophomore effort The New Order, all translated through a template that bears a shockingly close similarity to Heathen's Victims Of Deception.

Truth be told, Tantara doesn't really quite fit the mold of most revivalist bands in that their affinity to thrash metal's past is a bit more generalized than most others. The guitar sound, which was very likely a consequence of Rasmussen's close direction in the studio, is perhaps the lone exception as it sounds like all but a perfect recap of where Metallica was just prior to the 90s. Otherwise, it's difficult to point to one singular classic album in the latter day Bay Area style underscored on this album as being the biggest influence. The lead guitar work occasionally drops hints of both Hammett and Skolnick, but doesn't quite fit into the rigid structuralism of either and occasionally one-ups both in the technical department, and any doubters should get a load of the impressive display on "Court Injustice", which almost finds itself in Marty Friedman territory circa his Cacophony days. The drum work is just a tad too insane for Lars Urlich when at his best, though the overall sound matches his snare and bass drum heavy character during the latter half of the 80s, and the vocal work actually gets so vile and vicious that it more closely resembles Petrozza and Schmier than anybody in the Bay Area side save maybe Death Angel's own Mark Osegueda.

If there is anything that can be said against this album, apart from the fact that a number of cynical assholes think that the style should never have made a comeback, it is that it takes several listens to fully comprehend. New York may have been the home town of the band Overkill, but Tantara might be convincingly accused of overdoing it a bit given the sheer scope of elaborate songs congregated on this hour plus LP. They manage to carry this style extremely well and arguably one-up comparable efforts out of both Metallica and Testament, but it's on an entirely different wavelength than much of the shorter, crossover infused stuff that's been making the rounds over the past 8 years. This is definitely an acquired taste, but once it takes, it's impossible to lose and is guaranteed to be the neck-ruining gift that just keeps on giving. Cliches may abound, from the overused Eye of Horus symbol on the cover to the sampled George W. Bush speech that comes off as a way too contrived and obvious, but ultimately this is another one for the history books.

WHY are these guys so obscure??? - 93%

letthewarnervebreak, May 17th, 2014

Tantara is this cool little thrash band from Norway, and as far as I can tell, they've got very little recognition. They've only got this one single full-length album out at the time of this writing, which is a shame, because they rule! The music they play sounds very influenced by bands like if Forbidden decided to get just a bit more proggy and sophisticated, and then hired Mille Petrozza as their singer. Yeah, it may sound a bit strange, but it FITS!

Ok, so I will admit one flaw that this album has. Most of the songs, the opener and final two songs excluded, aren't very memorable at first. They're great, but they don't make you immediately start humming any riffs after hearing them, or even able to remember what they sounded like for the most part. However, this is quite possibly intentional, as there are SO MANY ideas presented here (a subject already touched upon by previous reviewers) and the music is really, really complex. However, once you've started to dig into this album, you'll notice something special in almost every song. The gang shouts in "Mass Murder", the wicked cool intros of "Based On Evil" and "Human Mutation", just generally stuff like that.

So how do all of the instruments sound? Well, the guitars sound super heavy and have a virtually perfect sound. Not too much treble, not too much bass, everything's perfect. During the quiet outros-intros (almost all the songs segue into one another with these) and acoustic interludes, the guitars sound just as perfect. The bass is more audible than in most thrash albums, which is a huge relief. It's not as noticeable as say, the bass on Deicide's second album, but it's certainly no "…AJFA". The drums are pretty much perfect in the mix. The singing is clear, and although you might not understand every syllable, you can certainly hear them. So, as a basic summary, any of you worrying about production qualities, considering that this is this super obscure band's debut, don't be. Everything's fine.

I mentioned earlier that this sounded like Forbidden + prog tendencies + Kreator, but that really doesn't do these guys justice (no Metallica pun intended). While the other two reviewers for this album have claimed that Tantara take a lot of influences from the Bay Area thrash scene, and they do, they have so much more to offer. Hints of the German scene, even besides the Kreator-esque vocals, appear from time to time. Elements of the more experimental sides of bands like Coroner, Overkill, (think "Years of Decay"), and maybe even tiny, tiny shards of stuff from later progressive death metal outfits like semi-late-era Death or post-"Unquestionable Presence" Atheist. Just to clear things up, this isn't an incredibly experimental or weird album, and nothing here sounds like "Elements" or "The Sound Of Perseverance", but there are enough soft moments, wonky riffs, and general not average thrashiness that I think calling this album a Metalliclone or "just another Bay Area thrash ripoff" would be doing it a horrible injustice. The fact that this band sounds this tight, intense, and sophisticated just right out of the gate is amazing. The only other debuts I can think of that sound so fully formed and awesome like this would be Rings of Saturn (go ahead and crucify me) or possibly Cynic. Maybe - just maybe - Realm, although I'm not personally a huge fan of "Endless War". Everything on this album just sounds so…so intentional and perfect just the way it is. I wouldn't change a note on here if I could.