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Tarot
Suffer Our Pleasures
June 2003
Released: 2003, Spinefarm Records
Rating: 4.7/5
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen

For a great number of people, the Finnish Heavy Metal veterans Tarot have always been ahead of other Finnish metal bands musically, visually, and professionally. The band has been existing nearly two decades (in the very beginning they used the name Purgatory) and released only 6 studio albums, but in Tarot´s case quality goes easily ahead of quantity and SUFFER OUR PLEASURES speaks great volumes of this quality matter and strengthens their position at the top of the Finnish metal bands and as one of the most potent forces in the Finnish metal scene. It may sound rude and unfair towards other metal acts coming from Finland, but Tarot still hasn´t faced too much potential competition in the ´more-metal-than-thou´-department, at least not in the pure uniqueness and sheer professionalism departments. Also, Tarot´s luminary vocalist and bassist Marco Hietala has got a gift that no other dudes in other bands have at all: A voice of all Gods!! His unbelievable and godly voice is just beyond any superlatives.



SUFFER OUR PLEASURES introduces us to a heavier, more aggressive, more twisted and darker (in a lyrical sense!) Tarot. From the days of their fine previous album, FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING, the band has taken a couple of vital steps into a bit more progressive impression, which only makes you wonder how they are ever going to top SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. IN so many ways it is such a perfect form of non-stop entertainment for an old-timer like me who has this perverse tendency to get stuck in one thing for a relatively long time. Now the whole package sounds like they sort of have reached their ultimate peak musically and cannot make a better album next time than this. To be honest, I need to confess openly about having a very hard time analyzing these songs from a journalist´s perspective, since I´m filled with such an undiscerning joy at the moment while listening to this album for the God-only-knows-how-many-times. Words just keep escaping from my mind... from my lips... damn...!! I´m just very hyped at the moment by a journey through SUFFER OUR PLEASURES, so please forgive me if there´s anything to be forgiven in the first place. This is almost too good to be true!! Definitely one of the bests of its own genre without a doubt!! I definitely am enjoying this at the moment--for how long from now going forward, how the Hell should I know...!!?



As for the songs, well, what can you really expect from these talented musicians who have been listening to their Sabs´, Priests, Maidens, Dios, Rainbows, etc. through their whole lifetime? Their music is like a big giant mirror that reflects back all these precious pieces of the guys´ very favorite bands they have always been influenced by musically. In fact, by listening to Tarot it´s like listening to some of your favorite NWOBHM –bands from the ´80s period within the evolution of the Heavy Metal genre. The influences are certainly there, no doubt; exploited with good taste and in well-balanced measure. Songs like a magnificently captivating opener, “I Rule” and songs like “Pyre of Gods”, “Follow the Blind” and “From the Void” are some of the heaviest, most entertaining, hottest and most ear-teasing HM -numbers that these four maestros in Tarot in their (almost) early forties have ever penned during the band´s existence. Especially the latter mentioned tune, “From the Void”, may win the privileged title as the album´s catchiest song; thanks to its very addictive chorus part. “Rider of the last Day” on the other hand, has a great epic, ballad-type of feeling right up until the 4-minute mark; and then the whole song simply burst out the same way as Sab´s “Heaven and Hell” if that particular song could be used as some sort of a reference point. It´s actually a very similarly structured song; reaching its climax in the later half of the song. I even could throw the 6th song, entitled “Of Time and Dust”, into this ´epic´ category due to its slowly building-up atmosphere. Actually the whole song sounds more like a ballad song, but played with heavy hands. It is kind of a ´typical´ song for Tarot, where the main emphasis is on Marco´s truly breath-taking vocal harmonies. Especially the chorus part seems to entice connecting Gods for a singing marathon.



Both “Convulsions” and “From the Shadows” follow ´the classic Tarot” tradition musically; both are shamelessly heavy fuckers where the band plays with some Tarot trademark soundscapes and intriguing melodies. “From the Shadows” could more than justifiably be considered a Speed/Power Metal song by Tarot´s standard; however, it is kicked off quite funnily with sort of a silly country music type of a guitar part that only lasts (fortunately!) a few passing seconds. Tarot goes to Power Metal in this very tune, heh!



The album´s closing track, “Painless” introduces Tarot´s more experimental side. Basically there´s not much happening in the last song at all instrumentally. Listening to “Painless” you are about to find out how Marco´s amazing use of his adorable voice takes a leading role in this particular script relatively soon. Still, it is a rather odd way from the guys to finish the album with such an out-of-the-norm tune for Tarot.



The thing with Tarot is they are always cooler than the other side of the pillow. Tarot gets better and better with time. The bond between each of them is adorable, unbreakable and quite unmatched. The strength of the band lies in the fact that the guys have been playing together for ages without changing one single musician from the line-up after their 2nd album, FOLLOW ME INTO MADNESS. A legendary phrase, ´All for one – one for all´, has worked out literally and an immensely great way in the Tarot –camp for many years. Perfect chemistry. SUFFER OUR PLEASURES is also the band´s finest work to date and I´ll be excited to see how they are ever going to top this mind-lifting album. That obviously remains to be seen and heard... The ´Wings of Darkness´ have been spread again for some top-notch quality. Awesome. Delicious. A “Must Get.”
Track Listing

01. I Rule
02. Pyre of Gods
03. Ruler of the Last day
04. Follow the Blind
05. Undead Son
06. Of Time and Dust
07. From the Void
08. Convulsions
09. From the Shadows
10. Painless

Lineup

Marco Hietala – Vocals, bass & acoustic guitar
Zachary Hietala – Guitars
Janne Tolsa – Keyboards
Pecu Cinnari – Drums


Next review: » Tarot - Suffer Our Pleasures
Previous review: » Tarot - Remasters

Tarot
Suffer Our Pleasures
May 2004
Released: 2003, Metal Blade
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

Growing up a Canadian prairie kid in the 80s didn’t exactly give me a lot of access to the Finnish underground metal scene, so here we are in 2004 and Tarot has released their “comeback” album, if you will, SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. This is my first introduction to the band and, whoa nelly, is it a good one! This is only their sixth album in eighteen years and it is chock full of traditional power metal songs that are heavily influenced by the 80s metal sound. Now these aren’t the “lick my love pump” type of cheesy 80s metal, but rather keyboard-driven, catchy songs that aren’t afraid of a solo. The bass and drums are mixed nicely giving a strong backbone to all of the tracks. Though the songs are keyboard-heavy, they are by no means overshadowing the other instruments. Brothers Marco (who also sings and plays bass in Nightwish) and Zachary Hietala lead the listener on a stunning retrospective of all that has made metal great over the past three decades on this CD.



“I Rule,” which I personally nominate for song of the year, is full of thick bass and drums and its chorus is catchy as hell. Marco’s gritty voice rips through the chorus and shows that it is well-suited for this music. “Pyre Of Gods,” “Follow The Blind,” “Undead Son” and “Painless” are also heavy, punchy songs with standout vocals that follow this same pattern. “Rider Of The Last Day” features a slinky, almost psychedelic keyboard and fuzzed-out bass pedal effect over a slower tempo that builds to a dynamic crescendo. “Of Time And Dust” is an epic track with sweeping keyboards and vocals. “From The Shadows” starts out with this strange country-flavored guitar riff but quickly gets back to metal territory.



There really isn’t a bad track to be found here. If Tarot’s back catalogue is as strong as SUFFER OUR PLEASURES is, I can only say, “Where have you been all my life?!?!” This CD is a must!



KILLER KUTS: “I Rule,” “Pyre Of Gods,” “Follow The Blind,” “Undead Son,” “Painless”
Track Listing

1. I Rule
2. Pyre Of Gods
3. Rider Of The Last Day
4. Follow The Blind
5. Undead Son
6. Of Time And Dust
7. From The Void
8. Convulsions
9. From The Shadows
10. Painless

Lineup

Marco Hietala—Vocals/Bass
Zachary Hietala—Guitars
Janne Tolsa—Keyboards
Pecu Kinnari—Drums


Next review: » Tarot - The Spell of Iron MMXI
Previous review: » Tarot - Remasters





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