A bridge too far
|5 (1 votes):|
While it is easily assumed that any band that gets rid of its heaviness and rawness loses its appeal rather quickly, Tiamat were one of those bands that got quite more interesting after they released their occult-obsessed death metal debut. The Astral Sleep might as well be one of the band’s most unique albums, as it reached out to several elements and somehow made it work. Clouds was a solid follow-up record (even if the vocals left quite a bit to be desired), but still retained some of that heavy gothic gloom vibe. Now one would assume Wildhoney would yet be another solid offering, yet I can’t help but think that this is where the band changed a lot for the worst.
It’s not like Tiamat’s earlier albums were devoid of acoustic guitars and keyboard passages – especially on The Astral Sleep and Clouds these were important elements that helped shaping that gothic gloom atmosphere those albums possessed. Wildhoney embraces even more acoustic noodling and keys emerging in the background, but since this album sees Edlund taking a huge step back in the guitar department, the result just isn’t very good. Hardly does Wildhoney evoke any emotional responses, nor does it rely on any ear-worm hooks – instead more often these songs dwell on and hardly have anything interesting to offer. Something like “Visionaire” just consists of wandering guitar passages that don’t contribute anything to the tune, dull mid-paced riffs devoid of any emotional weight and a chorus so quiet it only makes me wonder if Edlund weren’t half asleep when he recorded his lines. The only redeeming factors on the tune are the harsh barks of Edlund, as they ironically contain more power than they did circa Clouds. However, Wildhoney introduces even more clean vocals than its predecessor did and the result is nothing but dog shit. Listening to “Do you Dream of Me?” made me think he improvised by singing cleanly at the very last minute – The guy sounds totally apathetic and out of his element here. The song might make a decent lullaby, but an exciting tune it really isn’t.
Even the interludes go one ear in and one ear out (which to me is rather weird, given how cohesive The Astral Sleep was, where even the interludes played an important role on that album) and if that wasn’t enough yet, Wildhoney saves the absolute worst for the last. This eight-minute-long abomination named “A Pocket Sized Sun” sees Edlund speaking his way through this tune while the guitars play some random chords in the background – purely for background music’s sake I suppose? Alas, given Edlund’s boring delivery I’m assuming this wasn’t his most exciting encounter with a woman. I’ll just stick to his more adventurous stories about sleeping beauties and ladies trying to tempt him instead.
To finish off on a semi-positive note, Wildhoney does contain two enjoyable tunes. In fact, the album starts off rather promising! “Whatever That Hurts” is a fine opening track, even if it might catch the listener off guard with its quiet verse, yet the song features a loud-shouted chorus that resurrects itself often enough to make things work. While rather passive, “Gaia” is about as sentimental as Wildhoney gets – the track conveys the image of foggy landscapes and melancholic tales told by Edlund who successfully stays in the rougher register of his voice and I also like how the song finishes off with some superb shredding that’s show-off-worthy in a positive sense. Unfortunately, having two decent songs on your album isn’t really impressive and as far as I’m concerned this album defines Tiamat’s breaking point. Just stick to the band’s earlier albums instead and forget about this record.
Release date: September 1st, 1994
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