Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Album Review: Tad Morose - Chapter X

Some bands are able to flourish after a change in their lineup. New blood can give new life to a group, if they find the right way of refocusing themselves... and if the member or members who left weren't the reason the band succeeded in the first place. Tad Morose is one of those unfortunate groups who fall into that last category. Urban Breed was not just their singer, but he was their driving force, the key that made them work. Since he left years ago, the band has been floundering, and despite having a solid lineup now, they haven't come close to capturing any of the spark their best records had. They are pale shadows of themselves, as evidenced by the massive creativity of the title of their tenth album; "Chapter X".

This time around, Tad Morose is going for the philosophy that more is always better. This album spans fourteen tracks, extending well beyond where most albums do today. I've found myself drawn less and less to lengthy albums recently, and this many tracks is a daunting prospect.

"Apocalypse" leads things off with chunky riffing, a hint of prog to the guitar runs, and a sound that captures the Tad Morose spirit. Ronny Hemlin does a fine job delivering his vocals, but much like their last album, the band falters when it comes to delivering the big melodies Urban used to give them. Layering the chorus with some deep, slightly harsh vocals, didn't help to make the song feel melodic. It made the recording sound dirty, which couldn't have been what they were going for.

That is the predominant take-away from this album. The band is able to sound like themselves from the glory days, as their style of power metal was always dark but very safe. Writing riffs that fit in with their old style is easy, but what is always hard is crafting hooks. If it was easy, every band would be putting out earworms all the time. Tad Morose is trying hard here, but they just don't have the songs behind them to make a great album, let alone one that lasts this long.

There isn't anything about "Chapter X" that is bad. The band is perfectly solid at what they do, but what they do isn't exciting either. There aren't enough hooks, and there isn't enough energy in the music. They have never been the fastest band, but so many of these songs chug along at moderate paces without building up to a grand reveal. It comes across sounding a bit flat and tired. I said many of these same things about the previous album, which makes it disappointing to see they have carried on doing exactly the same thing here.

I'm sure there are die-hard fans of Tad Morose who will enjoy this, since it does still sound undeniably like them, but there are so many other bands who are writing better songs right now that I can't say their trademark sound is enough for me.

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