Released: 2003, Spinefarm Records
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.”