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Tantal - Expectancy

Tantal - CD Review




CD Info
Mazzar Records / BakerTeam Records
10 tracks
English / Russian lyrics


I tend to cover a lot of material from Russia. And there’s a reason for that. Russia has a history of great music, and great poetry. Now, I don’t consider myself to be a musical scholar, I’m certainly not much of a poet, but I do have an interest in such things. The great Russian musicians go back a long way. Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky and the incomparable Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov start the historical list but there are others (I have a minor in Humanities as an undergraduate, my major professor made sure we knew this stuff). Poetry is a different animal. My interest there is in poets from a certain period in Russian history, folks like Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam for instance. I won’t pretend to be smart enough to understand their work like a Russian but I understand it enough to have a deep appreciation for it. And material like the release under consideration here tends to remind me of some of those giants at certain levels.

It’s a little difficult to classify the release. You could certainly call it melodic death metal, the male death metal vocal is predominant on most tracks. However, the addition of female vocalist Milana Solovitskaya is the drawing card that takes this one into the Femme Metal realm. And she’s a good one. But beyond the musical style, one could probably put a Gothic tag on this, given the truly dark nature of the poetry that makes up the lyrics. I asked guitarist Dmitry Ignatiev to provide his thoughts on the topic: “I’ve never been a fan of gothic genre, but I like to listen to some near-goth bands, metal or rock bands that have a very gloomy, dark and depressive mood and feelings. I really like Katatonia, Wolverine, Anathema and some other bands that play not such complicated music as, for example, ‘Death’ or ‘Dream Theater’, but all of them have feelings. In case of ‘Expectancy’ I also tried to create not just music but the music with the feelings and dark mood. Of course clean female vocal, lyrics and artwork helped to reinforce such impression from the album. As for me I prefer to call it just Metal with dark mood. But I don’t mind if someone call it MDM or Gothic metal – my idea was to create something original, to mix genres and not to limit myself. All band members get inspiration from the different kind of music and of course TANTAL’s music reflects it all.” I’ll let the reader decide as I produce lyrics to several of the tracks. They sure go in Gothic directions to me.

You get an interesting introduction to the release here. Needless to say there are a variety of styles but the general theme is one of relatively hard hitting guitar driven metal with a couple solid vocals telling stories that are more than a little interesting. I asked Dmitry about those stories, what’s Gothic to me isn’t always Gothic to everyone. His response: “As for the second album ‘Expectancy”’– its lyrics are very personal. All of them reflect my inner state, thoughts and my experience. It’s about man’s attempts to find meaning of his life, to find himself, and to understand himself, it’s about his mistakes and misconceptions. As result it leads him to despair and destroys all his hopes. In the end he understands that all his life was pointless.” Interesting, but, again, I’ll provide some examples that suggest that Gothic can, at least in this case, be a very personal statement.

The release begins with Through the Years. I’m not sure how representative this one is of the release in general but it does demonstrate some of the general characteristics of the material. You get the pounding metal, the harsh male death vocals and an introduction to the Femme Metal sound, if ever so fleeting. I’ve covered a lot of Russian material and I don’t think I’ve heard much to compare this to. Other countries, maybe. But then, I focus on Femme Metal, there may be a lot out there I don’t hear. But this, given what it does, is strong in a lot of ways. If you’re really into metal, and you live for the solid guitar work that we sometimes get in this genre, it will be hard to get past that component. You get it pretty much across the board. However, if that’s all you’re looking for you will miss what I consider to be the strength of the release, the lyrics. In his responses to me I felt Dmitry underplayed this component. I won’t. Tracks like Echoes of Failures are delivered in a haunting fashion, there’s more than just the guitars. But the feeling is one of harsh remorse, and the lyrics capture that personal reflection:

All wounds I caused now are mine and scars torn open,
I feel your grief, your pain. I thought I’ve coped with it.
But time doesn’t heal it and I can’t forgive myself.
Voices from the past are calling me again.

Other tracks are very different. There’s one that is completely acoustic. In The End Pt. 2 (Epitaph) demonstrates a capability we don’t often see in this style of music. This one features the femme vox and is the beauty of the release (along with In times of Solitude which is more metal in nature and entirely instrumental). But the message is dark, very much consistent with the prevailing mood of the release:

Everything I knew was wrong. / All my hopes are broken.
Life is nothing for me anymore. / I don’t know what I search for…

All my life I’ve been waiting / For the sign to bring.
It took so long to realize / That it was in vain…

IMO the most interesting track is one called Nothing (Selfish Acts). The guitar work here defines the work, the vocals shine, the message takes us to the darkest regions of personal reflection. It should be mentioned that the other members of this band are consummate musicians as well, drums, bass, the entire package. They show up here in spades. But, again, this one, solid as the music is, makes sure you realize that there are few thoughts here that can be interpreted as anything other than remorseful:

If you look into my eyes you will see burning ashes of my life.
If you look into my soul you will find nothing at all… / Nothing at all!

Isolated by the wall of mine, / Drowning in sadness I cry.
There is stone instead of my heart, there is emptiness inside.
It will never be filled with the tears that silently fall down…

I found this track interesting enough to ask Dmitry to comment on it: “My idea was to show the man who regrets of his actions in the past (betrayal and a lie), and wish to fix the situation but deep inside he knows that it’s impossible because time has passed and what’s done is done, nothing can be changed (man whom he betrayed has died or just lives another life). We start miss someone only when we lose him. I think everyone has such feelings sometimes about his girlfriend or relatives etc.. In some way it’s love song, but without happy end.”

The final track is V moih Glazah (In My eyes) and its entirely in Russian. Don’t have the lyrics but you wouldn’t understand them anyway. So, given what we’ve heard, we can expect they weren’t doing a One Direction cover. If anything, this one may have a more emotional appeal, the band clearly loves performing in their native language.

Expectancy is a little different than what I generally expect from Russians, but in a good way. This is solid material in so many ways, instrumentally, vocally and, most importantly, lyrically. Solid across the board. Somewhere, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam are smiling. And so am I.