Review: Tad Morose “Modus Vivendi” [Century Media Records]

Review: Tad Morose “Modus Vivendi” [Century Media Records]

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It always amuses me to hear how inconsistent certain bands can be and unfortunately, Tad Morose are one of the best examples that I can think of. The Urban Breed-era is usually considered to be the pinnacle of this band, but even this period had its ups and downs. Undead was surrounded by two underwhelming albums; these being The SNES sounding A Mended Rhyme (what’s the deal with lousy keyboards?) and the underwhelming Matters of the Dark. Then, Modus Vivendi happened… which served as a reminder that Tad Morose still had potential after all.

I shit you not: Modus Vivendi has a lot more going on than its predecessor and it’s easy to see why. Unlike on Matters of the Dark, Urban Breed and Christer Andersson actually sound united again and it goes without saying that that makes a huge difference. Here the guitars sound busier; the songs hit harder and sound far heavier – while the impressive vocal hooks remain present. Generally, this results into a relatively heavier album than Undead and if you thought that that album could have used some more muscle, then you’ve come to the right place. No matter whether it’s speed or groove that Christer Andersson has built his foundations on, most tracks feature a few quality riffs in store that should definitely leave you headbanging or humming along. “Unwelcome Guest” recalls Savatage’s “Sirens” to a certain extent and while it’s clearly one of the heavier cuts on the album, it owes more to Christer Andersson’s whip-striking riffing than an elaborated chorus that you’d expect from Urban Breed. Even something like the chug-oriented “When the Spirit Rules the World” manages to work out fine and while this style of playing is often risky, Christter Andersson pulls this this style off with conviction, the song actually goes somewhere. You’ve got a brief chugging section, some foreign leads during the pre-chorus and at least, Urban Breed’s infectious chorus that conjures nothing but ethereal sadness.

Speaking of Urban Breed; this would be his last performance and it goes without saying that his performance remains superb. He leans in these colossal choruses with ease, but most importantly; most of the time he adapts to most of what Christer Andersson plays, rather than the other way around. The choruses of “Clearly Insane” and “Mother Shipton’s Words” could only be delivered by Urban Breed, yet there’s more to these songs than just a chorus. “Clearly Insane” crushes through the gates without a warning and “Mother Shipton’s Words” expresses itself like a stop-go riffing machine that even makes the best of Matters of the Dark sound like fluff. Clearly, Tad Morose bettered themselves in just one year and I almost get the idea as if they knew that this line-up would eventually dissolve and therefore decided to step up their game.

Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out as well as planned and it doesn’t take long before Modus Vivendi starts to reveal its inconsistencies. I like what “No Mercy” is supposed to represent; which seems like a fist-pumping number that gets close to the US power metal territory, but beside that nostalgic main riff of Helstar-esque quality, there’s not much going on here – which seems like a waste of a main riff to me… but so be it. There are still times when Modus Vivendi sounds too much like Urban Breed’s own creation, too, which isn’t an advantage, either. Urban Breed leads “Cyberdome” and “Life in a Lonely Grave” to their final destination, but I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of either of these tracks. The former features some chugged verses, a decent acoustic pre-chorus and a chorus that sounds rather underwhelming (perhaps to be expected when you repeat “I don’t know” so often, right?) and the latter comes off as an overlong and dramatic soundtrack in the most exaggerated way possible. You’ve got a predictable orchestrated intro, verses that clearly put Urban Breed in the spotlights and a chorus that’s only somewhat moving; nothing to write home about.

All things considered, the highlights of Modus Vivendi make the album worth revisiting for me and while I would have preferred a more consistent album, it succeeds at what it does. Besides, there’s not much else to say about Tad Morose, is there? From what I’ve heard, their recent albums clearly lack something and perhaps it’s even more unfortunate that Urban Breed’s following projects carry little value whatsoever. Seriously, Modus Vivendi would have made a fine swansong for everyone involved… but alas, fate had different things in store.

Score: 73 / 100 – Should have been their swansong

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