Theandric – Flight Among The Tombs (Album Review)

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The eternal dove compels the cemetery ravens.

Though now a fairly commonplace concept, back in the mid-2000s the notion of an American band resurrecting the epic metal stylings of the early 80s was far less so. Yet this was the context that saw a lone multi-instrumentalist based in Detroit named Paul Tiseo take on the aforementioned task, taking heavy influence from iconic NWOBHM figures turned epic heavy metal innovators Iron Maiden and a few other noteworthy icons from both sides of the Atlantic, and released a string of independent recordings in the first half of the 2010s. Between his Bruce Dickinson meets Messiah Marcolin-inspired soaring tenor and proficiency at every instrument involved in a typical metal arrangement, Tiseo presented a sound becoming of any seasoned veteran outfit, yet his desire was always for his project, dubbed Theandric, to evolve into a fully formed band. With the release of “Flight Among The Tombs,” this aspiration has come to fruition through the recruitment of several local musicians, with Paul himself retaining lead vocal, keyboard and bass duties.

While heavily rooted in a variant of metal from the earlier half of the 1980s that has been widely explored of late, Theandric manage to accomplish a highly unique take on things through a brilliant merger of stylistic eclecticism and an almost liturgical aesthetic heavily rooted in Christian traditionalism. The usual assortment of folksy melodic trappings, crunchy riff work and freely developing song structures that goes with such noted outfits as Cirith Ungol, Queensryche and Fates Warning circa 1984 often find themselves intermingling with a denser, melancholic affectation that isn’t too far removed from the gravely pursuits of Candlemass’ early albums. Much of this dueling of influences is accomplished through the detailing provided by Tiseo’s own work among the fringes of the arrangement, be it through a number of peripheral keyboard parts that shape an otherwise typical metallic assault into something a bit less so, or his unique blend of vocal influences. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to wholly discount the input of guitarists Bill Bogue and Aaron Wienczak (who often resemble a heavier incarnation of Scott Gorman and Brian Robertson) and drummer Matt Voss in driving these songs into more unique territory.

“Flight Among the Tombs” Artwork

Each song that rounds out this 27 minute EP is an exercise in meticulous emulation and variation, with no two sounding much like the other while still being unmistakably the product of the same fold of musicians. The opening cruiser and title track “Flight Among The Tombs” introduces itself with a soaring church organ prelude like something out of a J.S. Bach or Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and then launches into an driving, Warlord-inspired US power metal styled romp that beautifully showcases the riffing capabilities of Bogue and Wienczak. Nipping on its heels is a Maiden-inspired epic slough with a tall order of Scottish pipes blaring away dubbed “The Battle Of Sherramuir”, a made to order new classic for today’s epic heavy metal trustee. Things then take a full on plunge into the dreary world of late 80s epic doom with “Condemned To Death”, laying on the dark and dreary, slow paced drones like a lost track off of Candlemass“Nightfall.” The closing sonic chapter “Ozymandias” takes on an even more unique niche than the rest, coasting on a mid-paced march out of Dio-era Black Sabbath while throwing in a volley of progressive twists and turns with a tall side order of Near East influences.

To say that Theandric is a band that marches to the beat of a different drum would be an understatement, yet they are ultimately a band that will ring quite familiar to those who have been enamored with the output of other American acts such as Spirit Adrift and Visigoth. It is interesting to note that while this project has been in existence since before either aforementioned contemporary, this quartet will likely be regarded as a later entry into the scene given their more obscure status and less prolific output. But when considering the highly diverse set of songs presented here, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see a subsequent album from this outfit outclassing all the rest with little need of further elaboration. Those who enjoy their traditionally-grounded heavy metal touched up with a sense of theatricality and a dreary, doom-steeped atmosphere are sure to enjoy this, and the current traditional doom and old school heavy metal revivals going on of late could definitely do with more albums like this to expand their respective stylistic horizons.

Released By: Theandric Music
Release Date: February 11th, 2022
Genre: Traditional / Progressive Metal

Musicians:

  • Paul Tiseo / Vocals, Bass, Keys, Guitars
  • Bill Bogue / Guitars
  • Aaron Wienczak / Guitars
  • Matt Voss / Drums

Flight Among The Tombs” Track listing:

1. Flight Among the Tombs
2. The Battle of Sherramuir
3. Condemned to Death
4. Ozymandias

8.5 Excellent

Detroit-based one-man project turned old school metal quartet Theandric put the American metal scene on notice with a brilliant blend of heavy metal traditionalism after the mold of Iron Maiden and a religious aesthetic right out of the Candlemass playbook, culminating in four towering, melancholic, epic anthems

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8
  • Production 8.5
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