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Album Reviews : Taberah – Sinner’s Lament

By on April 2, 2017

It is an oft-repeated phrase when a reviewer mentions that a band’s album is a step up from previous releases, and the degree to which this is the case is often also exaggerated a fair bit. To be honest, however, the truth of the matter couldn’t be any more the case than with Taberah‘s latest release, Sinner’s Lament. This is the Tasmanian’s first full-length release since Necromancer in 2013, and their first recorded new material since last year’s EP Welcome to the Crypt (the original track, “Crypt”, from that EP features on this album). In about every aspect, however, this album is a significant step up from previous releases. When an album genuinely captures your attention from the thirty-second mark of the opening track alone, you know you’re in for something quite different!

I think what forms a great deal of the brilliance behind who Taberah are is that they genuinely don’t take themselves at all too seriously when performing live, yet when it comes to their music, you can say with the utmost confidence that their heart and soul is poured into their music to make it the best it can be (all you need do to show this is listen to the one-two punch of “Child of Storm” and “Dance of the Damned” – two songs that are wholly seperate from one another, yet fit perfectly in their places on the album’s tracklist and aren’t incongruous in their side-by-side pairing). With each progressive album over the band’s decade-long career, Taberah’s sound has continued to evolve and mature. With Sinner’s Lament, I think the heights of what Taberah has to offer is at last on full display. While Necromancer definitely pushed those elements forward, Sinner’s Lament has brought them together in a way that makes Taberah’s sound both chunky in its delivery and engrossing in its presentation from beginning to end.

Traditional heavy metal isn’t a genre that’s easy to do right, yet Taberah do so without any of the pretentiousness or inability to not come off as a cheap Iron Maiden or Queen knockoff. Their music has always been at once familiar, yet solely unique to them. Sinner’s Lament feels like the album where Taberah is shedding those restricting genre titles and simply embracing who they are. They aren’t afraid to write a rollicking heavy metal track or one with softer, melodic undertones, and on the same token, are not hesitant to push the limits of where modern heavy metal music can be taken, yet still with retaining that traditional element they are known for. That is the secret excellence to this album. It manages to provide a fresh take on an old genre whilst still retaining its flamboyant lyrical traits and capturing the essence of what makes a heavy metal track, well, heavy metal.

The defining aspect of Sinner’s Lament, I’ve found, is the harmonious coming together of the band’s rhythm section. For a quartet, Taberah do a phenomenal job in making their sound come off as massive. At once, it can be said to be due to clever writing and recording, and while that is true, it is also underselling it. This aspect is really indicative of a band who understand each other as musicians, and have, over the course of a number of years, refined their sound in a way where Taberah now know how to play to one another’s strengths. With each track of this album, that formula is played out again but in a way that doesn’t become tired or bland. It instead heightens the impact of their music. The drumming of Tom “Bam Bam” Brockman has improved significantly on this record and he has matured a great deal as a drummer, dancing between double-kick and 16th note patterns to everything in between. This is further the case with guitarists Myles “Flash” Flood and Jonathon Barwick (also the vocalist), where their shredding and solo work is propelled to the nth degree and where the bass notes of Dave “The Doctor” Walsh stands out as crisp and prominent.

To speak of Barwick for a moment, this man has always had a unique vocal approach as a singer. Defying simple comparison, his use of the middle register, and at times, highs, has always offered an interesting take. On this album, his vocals stand out as a highlight and show off his confidence to explore and push his vocal talents. It enriches the experience when each song is decidedly quite different from one another already in structure, allowing for Barwick to craft a series of choruses with hooks galore; and something that is bound to earn Taberah a host of new fans in the live circuit.

Another element I enjoyed about this album was the unexpected but welcome female backing vocals of Laura Cooke. Featuring sporadically across a number of the tracks, Cooke brought a feminine aspect to the record that gave a type of authenticity to Taberah’s already emotionally-driven lyrics. I’ve always enjoyed the contrast between female vocals with hard-hitting heavy metal tracks, as it provides a Beauty and the Beast style motif to the music; where the bite of the tracks can be offset by the grace of something kinder and more benign. Just as engaging, it allows for the heaviness of the track to have something to bounce off of, and also for the vocals to provide a stronger context to the lyrics being spoken.

Across the nine tracks that make up Sinner’s Lament, Taberah take you on a heavy metal journey where the band not only show off their impressive musical chops but also give you the impression that this album is the result of a decade’s long labour of love. Each track gives the feeling of being a part of Taberah’s musical evolution as a band. One of the biggest highlights of Sinner’s Lament for me is the track, “The Final March of Man”. If people ever came up to me and asked ‘what does Australian metal sound like?’ I’d show them this song. It has everything you could want: an epic, orchestral introduction; absolutely stellar guitar, vocal and drum work, and riffs-for-days! A shining example of why I love this country’s metal scene. Followed by the crushing track, “Heal Me”, the bass to this song is huge! What a great closer to an awesome album. Every year, there is one of those Australian metal albums that you feel everyone should get their hands on. For me, that is this album. I don’t think I could have asked for a better follow up to Necromancer. More of this, please!

Oh, and lastly, lest we forget the “Hotel California” cover! If you were a fan of DragonForce‘s cover of the Johnny Cash song, “Ring of Fire” in 2014, get ready for Taberah to force that dragon right into the Eagles. While it gets a little awkward at times as the vocals remain at the same tempo as the original, the speed of this track blew me away and had me laughing in the best way possible. An unexpected but brilliant little gem!

Sinner’s Lament is out May 19th via Rocket Distribution (AU/NZ), Rock Stakk Records (Japan), and Killer Metal Records (EU). Pre-order your copy HERE.

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.