The name of this band intrigued me. I knew it could not have come from the misspelled tartar sauce (OK, no more quipping). Then, I read the promo sheet and saw that the band is part Finnish and part Russian. It made sense then, as Russians called invading Mongols tarthars, meaning “a formidable, rough, unmanageable or ferocious person” and the dark place where they came from Tartharia. What still doesn’t make sense is the fact I can’t recognize a single Russian last name in the band’s line-up. Either the info is old, not accurate, or those Russians are masquerading as Finns. Although, you wouldn’t care if they were from Timbuktu if the music was any good, right?
Abstract Nation is the band’s second output and I am absolutely not qualified to talk about the debut since I haven’t heard a single note of it. Abstract Nation lists only Tahvo Audry Kennonen on vocals and Antti Ihalainen on guitars and bass as regular band members. Drumming, another guitar and keyboards/sampling are performed by session members.
The album can be described best as a banana. Peel away the lethargic, protracted, sampled/synthesized intro and outro skin, The Land of Thousand Hopes and DI, respectively, and the middle tastes great. Why would Tartharia engage with a long “mood-setting” intro and an outro that I feel many people will skip when the rest of the album is pretty groovy unadulterated blackened thrash?
OK, now that I have got some criticism out of the way, I enjoyed the rest of Abstract Nation quite a bit. The album contains seven interesting tracks interspersed with somewhat unusual thrashy riffing and buoyed by hard-hitting punchy drumming. Misery My Loneliness and Reprise are supercatchy, the type of thrash song you can bob your head to. Even when Tartharia brings a little bit of an experimentation into their sound (female backing vocals on At Every Step or keyboard backing on title track and Warlife) they still sound fairly aggressive and in your face. Even though the promo sheet mentions keyboards, don’t think you will hear Dimmu Borgir or anything of a gothic ilk. Keyboards on Abstract Nation is strictly a background instrument which you won’t even notice if you don’t listen hard enough. Drums don’t engage in much blasting, they rather play around and with the guitar chords creating both offbeat rhythms (title track) and an interesting tribal sequence (VI Feet). Warlife and Stand in the Wind, however, push the brutality up a notch bringing in double bass rolls and some blasting, respectively. Guitars on Abstract Nation are mostly chug and groove chords, however At Every Step sports an early In Flames lead, while leads on Warlife and Stand in the Wind (definitely more black metal oriented tracks) have more of a majestic Scandinavian feel.
Tahvo Kennonen moves his vocal delivery from raspy higher pitch to something downright guttural. He can do it in a span of one song (Misery My Loneliness) which keeps the flow varied. Stand in the Wind sees both “voices” join in one frantic duet (layering??).
All in all I feel that Tartharia might appeal to the fans of bands like Susperia where thrash and black metal are quite integrated with the latter not being of “true” and “kvlt” variety. The fans of the latter style also would not like the bottom heavy, bass up clean production on Abstract Nation. Once you skip the intro, the album flies by, probably indicating that while this is not a masterpiece for ages you have to put on repeated listen, it has enough gripping power not to make you count minutes until it is over.
Killing Songs :
Misery My Loneliness, At Every Step, Reprise
|Alex quoted 75 / 100|
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