Thursday 16 July 2015

Tau Cross - 'Tau Cross' (Album Review)

‘The music itself is all over the place, but this variety is one of the album’s biggest strengths.’

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/05/2015
Label: Relapse Records

‘Tau Cross’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

01. Lazarus
02. Fire In The Sky
03. Stonecracker
04. Midsummer
05. Hangmans Hyll
06. We Control The Fear
07. You People
08. Prison
09. Sons Of The Soil
10. The Lie
11. Our Day
12. The Devil Knows His Own

Tau Cross is:

Rob ‘The Baron’ Miller | Bass, Vocals
Michel ‘Away’ Langevin | Drums 
Andy Lefton | Guitar
Jon Misery | Guitar     


Two months have now passed since Tau Cross’ self-titled album came out, and the dust seems to have finally settled. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading a review of an album two months after it’s already come out, you’ve already heard it and (rightfully) find it interesting enough that you’re wondering what others think about it. The album has been largely praised from fans and press alike, and with a line up that includes the Rob “The Baron” Miller, Away of Voivod fame, and members of Misery and War//Plague, it’s easy to see why so many were so excited about the album in the weeks and months leading up to its release.

I didn’t get it, at all. I’m not sure that I even get it now. Having a lot of time to digest ‘Tau Cross’ has seen the album fair better with me than it had in the first week after release, but it’s still a confounding album. The riffs are deceptively simple, to the point that I was actively bothered by people praising the album at first. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the musical part of the album quite a bit, but at that point, I distrusted every review I read. I caught myself believing that the people involved just wanted a band with this kind of history involved to work so badly that they loved it before they even heard it and didn’t want to reverse course once they heard how bad it was. ‘This is the sort of shit we would all shrug off from garage bands’, I thought to myself, ‘so why is everyone so excited about this? They must be giving this album praise because of who made it.’

But that’s complete bullshit. Some people just get this album in a way that I’m not wired to. I know the proper way to handle this situation is to simply leave myself out of the review and criticize it “objectively”. I’ve already failed at that, and I’m going to continue to fail at it because objectively a lot of people love this album, and I don’t. It gets better every time I hear it and yet one thing remains crystal clear to me. The Baron as throat-shredding madman of Amebix was a perfect fit. When he’s a part of a much more conventional hard rock or heavy metal band he sounds woefully out of place.

The music itself is all over the place, but this variety is one of the album’s biggest strengths. Very little of this album ever really feels dour or even angry, which makes The Baron’s preferred vocal demeanor feel all the more strange. It’s the musical version of a raving derelict screaming in the middle of a water park. Everyone’s having massive amounts of fun all around him, but he just keeps yelling at everything, completely undeterred by the good vibrations surrounding him at all times. The music on any given song might bring Motörhead, The Melvins or Kyuss to mind among others. There’s even a western-inspired protest folk vibe to “We Control the Fear”, but one thing never changes: The Baron is almost always in stark contrast to whatever is happening musically.

The truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever put the pieces in place to make this album sound right to me. There are a ton of people, many of whom are brighter and are better writers than I’ll ever be, that love this album. It’s an undeniably different album, and it’s worth recommending for that reason alone. There are some songs here that are way more clever than you might think they are on the first listen. Beyond that, it’s worth trying because it’s truly one of a kind.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

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