Good day all,
The following review was originally posted on METAL BUZZ at: http://metalbuzz.net/site/reviews/tourniquet-antiseptic-bloodbath/
To write a review about the new Tourniquet album Antiseptic Bloodbath is a bit of a challenge as I do not have a complete grasp on what it is I am listening to. This is an extremely interesting album where when things are done well they are done really well and when they are done wrong they are done really wrong. I want to like this album as the music itself is worth the accolades that are poured on this band by critics. There is no mistaking the talent and musicianship of the members of the band but there is a piece to this band and the music that I think I may be missing. They have a niche in metal that they have carved out for themselves very nicely but I am not sure that this niche is something that translates very well in music. It is very rare when I listen to an album that I have such a hard time trying to figure the music itself out and what the band is trying to do with the songs but this is one of those cases. I am not sure if that is a good thing and the band should be praised for this or if it is a bad thing and the band should be accountable for this either way I will do my best to give my opinion and let you all decide for yourselves.
Tourniquet is a self proclaimed Christian metal band and one listen to the first song on this album is going to show you that. They do not hide their leanings toward the Christian faith, they pretty much put it right out there for the world to hear. I know that for some people that alone will stop you from even giving this album a chance and I get that. I am not one who wants to be preached at in my music but I look at it like I look at death and black metal: death and black metal bands sing about Satan, the occult and other dark and mystic subjects. Similarly Christian bands sing about Christ and God and the saints etc… And to some that is as much mystical and occult as the devil, so I will give them a chance. Plus, don’t we need someone to replace Stryper?
What you may not know about Tourniquet is that this is their ninth studio album and the band has been around in several different formations since 1989. So this isn’t a new and up and coming band we are talking about here this is a well established band that have the respect to bring in a lot of guest musicians on their albums to include Marty Friedman (Megadeth) and Bruce Franklin (Trouble). I think the interesting thing about this is most of us (yes me included) had not heard of Tourniquet until this current album came out and I have a feeling this will continue for quite some time.
The new album Antiseptic Bloodbath is an interesting mix of classic heavy metal, thrash, a tinge of prog and a vocal style that may take getting used to if you are new to the band. The album opens up with the track “Chart of the Elements (Lincchostbllis)” and this is where the confusion starts for me. The song opens with what appears to be a cheer squad cheering for the periodic table of elements and there is no clear cohesion to this cheer that I can tell but I am sure it means something. But this is one of those areas where I think that the band goes in a direction that could have been avoided. Why open your album with a cheesy cheer type thing that adds nothing to the song. The thing about the annoying cheer part is it moves right into a rocking thrashy, old school intro, but once again we are met with an annoying “woo-woo” gang chant after the lyric “Chart of the elements”. This “woo-woo” gang chant sounds like something that would be more appropriate on a Justin Bieber album than a heavy metal album.
As this album moves from it’s off kilter opener into the rest of the album the aspects and points of Christianity seep out along the way but it doesn’t seem to take away from the album as a whole. The musicianship on this album is top notch from the solo at the break in “Chart of the Elements” with its classical feel to the double time drum beat throughout the album, you cannot take the fact that this is a solid and talented band and they can put together a song. The problem is all of the stuff in between the music that distracts from the music itself. Part of it is the vocals from Luke Easter, which switch from a type of screaming sound into this talky evil sounding narrative type vocal. To me it is a bit uneven and as I said earlier distracts from what is overall a really good album musically.
Something else I really like about this album is that it is not predictable, it takes chances from song to song. Where one song could be a hard driving thrasher type song the next could be a slower starting power metal piece that gradually transforms itself into a power driven metal epic. This is evident in the transition from the title track into “The Maiden Who Slept in the Glass Coffin”. It works really well and lends a kind of flow to the album that is surprising after first listen but it also takes some time to get used to, so if you are going to give this album a chance, do yourself a favor and give it some time to really settle in, at least a couple of listens before making a judgment.
Which brings us to what could be called both my favorite as well as least favorite song on the album? What I have learned in my research on Tourniquet is that besides being a Christian metal band they are also string supporters of animal rights, which explains the song “86 Bullets”, a song written about the rampage of a circus elephant in Hawaii back in 1994. The first’s time I heard this song was actually when I was driving down the road and my MP3 player was on shuffle and this song came on. If you follow me on Twitter you could probably find the exact time I posted my surprise that I was listening to a song about an elephant rampage from a heavy metal band. The song itself musically is fine but this again is where I have my problem with Tourniquets use of cheesy and un-necessary formula for this song. It starts off as a narrative type song and then transitions to the point of view of the elephants through the chorus. As far as I am concerned it lends an uneven feel to the song and it seems that nothing should make a song about a rampaging elephant seem any more bizarre.
So the final question becomes, would I recommend this album to all who read this post? I think everyone should at least give it a try. It is not the best metal album to come out this year but it is so unique in its content and sound that I think one would greatly benefit from giving it a listen. I know that one of the main reasons that a lot of people will not give this album a chance is because of the strong Christian vibe, but look past that and give these excellent musicians a chance. I don’t think you will be sorry for giving it a try. With all of its thrash, power, prog, classic heavy metal there really is a little bit of everything for everyone, you just have to cut through some of the cheese.
Until later, Peace!