Where rock and metal collide.
While still a new player in the American music scene, New York natives and old school metal adherents Tanith have adopted an auditory aesthetic that is about as archaic as they come. Bursting onto the circuit with their 2019 debut “In Another Time” (an apt album title to be sure), they cemented a niche that is a bit less common in New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal circles, combining the dueling guitar approach of Thin Lizzy and the doom-infused, free-flowing jam rock approach of mid-70s Black Sabbath with a unique pairing of lead vocal personas that embody both the olden male helmsman archetype with the more recent phenomenon of its equally potent feminine counterpart. By no means should this suggest that the quartet that makes up this fold is anything short of the full package in terms of technical proficiency and expressiveness, but it’s a fool’s errand to deny that the combined voice work of NWOBHM veteran and guitarist Russ Tippins (the band’s lone non-U.S. member and a direct link to older ways) and bassist Cindy Maynard are the prime feature of this project.
Naturally with success can come the potential for hardship, and between the lockdowns of the early 2020s limiting correspondence between Tippins and the rest of the band, as well as the sudden departure of guitarist Charles Newton mere days before Tanith would hit the studio, it seemed the odds were stacked against the long-awaited sophomore LP “Voyage” coming into being. But the sudden eventuality of a de facto power trio having to fulfill the role of a quartet would prove the perfect challenge for the remaining three, and 43 minute sequel after a 4 year wait arrive with equal prowess and fervor to its 2019 predecessor. In many respects the ante has been upped, as a greater degree of older 60s psychedelic motifs and more expansive displays of virtuoso musicianship are among the many developments to be discovered, though tempered with an eye for brevity and accessibility that is often absent from other bands delving into the olden times of epic heavy metal glory. In short, there are no slouches in this sonic book of 9 chapters, no unnecessary filler, but rather a pure, refined display of that often sought but rarely realized stylistic ambiguity between hard rock and metal that has been a hot item of late.
Lofty landscapes in line with the high fantasy tropes of early 80s heavy metal on both sides of the Atlantic are the order of the day, tempered with an even earlier and more spacey production that speaks more to the era that was the former’s forerunner. Riding in on a brilliant folksy acoustic introduction, the opening foray “Snow Tiger” kicks things off on a swift and nimble note, as the driving kit work of Keith Robinson recalls the bombastic and flashy brilliance that Cozy Powell originally brought to Rainbow, while Tippins more than effectively emulates the roles of both longtime Thin Lizzy legend Scott Gorham and his many axe-slinging foils during the formative years of said iconic trailblazers, and even turns the clock ahead at times to the early days of Murray and Smith bringing down the harmonized rage via Iron Maiden. Similar fits of fast-paced old school adventurism unfold with the speed anthem “Adrasteia” and the gallop-happy epic crusher “Seven Moons (Galantia Pt. 2)”, both of which see a highly riveting vocal display out of Maynard and a bass performance on the latter to rival the bluesy wizardry that Geezer Butler took to “N.I.B.”.
Of course, there is a bit more to this outfit’s modus operandi than the proto-speed metal mayhem that was originally pioneered by Riot and Judas Priest. Early on in this succession of 70s nostalgia sits the mid-paced rock anthem “Falling Wizard”, which enters things almost sounding like an even older timey nod to The Mamas & The Papas and spends much of its time dancing between the lighter side of Rainbow and the harder side of The Who. Despite being chock full of rich guitar harmonies, it’s pretty hard to miss the occasional Jefferson Airplane-like moments popping in and out of the mix on “Architects of Time”, though it does move into heavier and faster territory as it progresses. The folk rock proclivities of “Olympus By Dawn” provide an even greater contrast, while that of “Flame” are arguably the most pronounced deviation from the metal template in favor of lighter territory, and the clean vocal delivery of Maynard and Tippins meld with the frequent acoustic breaks as seamlessly as they do the more electrified moments.
Far from being a necessary enemy of triumph, adversity has always been its constant companion, and Tanith’s newest studio entry could well stand as one of the more auspicious examples of it to come to light in 2023. It’s only really limited by the scope of its target audience, which claims a sizable plurality of traditional metal fans young and old, but will prove less of a boon for modern metal fans who expect something more heavily compressed and less melodically pristine. Those who took to what is often dubbed proto-metal in the 1970s and have come to love modern emulations of it in terms of songwriting and studio production via outfits like Sweden’s Night, Scottish retro-hounds Midnight Force and fellow Brooklyn-born old school kin Sanhedrin will be the primary welcoming committee for this fantastical opus of otherworldly adventure. Though it may seem a fundamental contradiction, one can truly move forward by taking a few steps back, even if as a result one finds oneself the better part of 50 years in the past.
Order “Voyage” HERE.
Released By: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: April 21st, 2023
Genre: Hard Rock / Proto- Metal
- Russ Tippins / Guitars, vocals
- Cindy Maynard / Bass, vocals
- Keith Robinson / Drums
- Snow Tiger
- Falling Wizard
- Olympus by Dawn
- Architects of Time
- Mother of Exile
- Seven Moons (Galantia Pt. 2)
- Never Look Back
Venturing even further into the realm of 70s rock and metal mystique, Brooklyn-based retro revivalists Tanith defy numerous obstacles to reprise the enticing and hard-hitting sonic handiwork that adorned their celebrated debut and made them a hot item in traditional metal circles in the late 2010s