Talanas - _The Waspkeeper_
(Eulogy Media, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (6 out of 10)
It's quite a deceitful thing to realize you've done to yourself when you look back at your music and find that it subconsciously fell into a mold. A musician's subconscious can pull a lot of tricks on him without him even knowing. A friend of mine who has been a long time Savatage fan plays in a progressive rock band that doesn't bear any similarity to Savatage's music, yet somehow, one of his guitar lines sounds like he's been listening to nothing other than Savatage since they released _Poets and Madmen_ ten years ago. Which begs the question: can a musician really hide his influences while making new music? I think not, and I can use Talanas' debut full length _The Waspkeeper_ as supporting evidence.

The deeper I sink my teeth into _The Waspkeeper_, the more inclined I am to call it a progressive metal album. There are some elements of death metal, gothic and heavy metal, but they're not equally proportionate to generate an obscure concoction of them all. This is definitely an entertaining record, with lots of interesting moments that portray the wide array of influences these four Brits have sampled over their years of indulging themselves into all kinds of music.

Clean singing, growling and pig squeals are all used throughout the album's one hour duration, and each one of these techniques can be a hit-or-miss element, because they're all executed at similar levels of average-ness; none of them actually excels. "The Veil and Its Behest" and "Messaline" are examples of tracks on which the clean vocals could make you think twice while "Elsewhere, But for the Giving", despite its absurd name, presents much better clean vocals and more enunciated atmospherics than the rest of the album. Guitars on the other hand fare a bit better than the vocals and that makes _The Waspkeeper_ a more appealing album for someone with severe selective hearing disorder like me. Those of us who subconsciously tune out the vocals will enjoy the quasi-blackened intro to "Anata (The Portrait)", the catchiness of "A Fortune Worth Its Disguise" and the clean overtones played over the main riff on "The Ecstasy of Betrayal" which takes on a traditional death metal style.

The heaviest track for my money has to be "Antiphon", which is the result of its tri-layered riffing. The last two tracks, "The Unhealing I" and "The Unhealing II", are quite easily the most emotional thirteen minutes on _The Waspkeeper_, but the strong and potentially bisecting element, which is the persistent clean singing, is quite prominent here -- which again could throw you off or right in there. In the end, there are elements that sound great and will pull you towards _The Waspkeeper_, and there are those that could trigger your archaic fear of wasps; the only difference between me and any other listener would be the magnitude with which these elements operate.

Contact: http://www.talanas.org

(article published 15/5/2011)

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