Däng - Tartarus: The Darkest Realm

Däng Tartarus: The Darkest Realm cover
Tartarus: The Darkest Realm
No Remorse Records
Hmm, Däng, are a band from North Carolina that according to their press release play hard rock, prog metal, well upon listening to their debut, I’d strongly disagree with that allegation. They haven’t got much to do with hard rock and prog metal, at least in the way most people would really tend to categorize it “ie “dream theater-fates warning etc.” I can’t really hear any weird time signatures and uber technical playing, to put them under that category either. They are a rather good, heavy metal band with lots of doom metal elements, however, that is a proclamation I could stand behind “totally”.
They have some nice riffs, that tend to be quite a signature feature throughout the duration of the album which also seems to have a very heavy preoccupation with ancient Greek Mythological themes. That, coupled with the fact, that all the weird names of the gods, heroes and entities are all pronounced correctly, even with a slight hint of an ethnic accent, that’s however not “traceable”, just not “from NC”, make me assume that Chris Church the band’s vocalist and one of the guitarists (I assume rhythm?) must either be of Greek origin or must have studied about Greek antiquity to great depth.
“Sisiphus” is riffy as it is heavy and martyric, repetitive even, but it is supposed to tell of the story of king of Ephyra, who paid for his deceitfulness, by having to roll a boulder up to a hill, only to watch it roll down and having to repeat the process over and over forever… “doomed to repeat...”
“Salmoneus” who was the brother of Sisiphus, and a son of Aeolous, was another bizarre case, as he sought to imitate Zeus, by rolling a chariot over a brass bridge to imitate the sound of thunder etc… so Zeus, struck him with a thunderbolt for his hybris…. this song is slower and more epic, darker as well... with spoken parts… at over seven minutes, it however manages to keep things quite interesting.
“Titans” has a pretty obvious theme, I suppose, but here the band sort of keeps using riffs, that it’s used before, I suppose, 7 minute songs and the same tempo, don’t help with originality that much... there’s a variant riff introduced here and a nice melody during the basic “chorus” and the whole “Tartarus awaits” section with the ambience that follows and the solos is pretty cool… but… well, I suppose, it could have been a bit more compact or original...
“Ixion” changes the style, of the monolithic riffy heavy “metal” that applied to the first few songs and introduces a more 70s inspired heavy rock, sound, that’s again riff based, again rich in “Sabbath” influences, but has more musicality overall. There’s also a sludgier, murkier feel as well and a slower more inter-locked pattern between the phrasing of the musicians. Fact of the matter is that I like this “style” a bit better.
“Danaides” begins with some soft acoustic guitars over running water… which goes on for a couple of minutes until the song actually kicks in quite manically… actually with most of the vocals doused in lots of ‘verb and echo, smartly it feels as if someone’s lost in a forest… and the song also finishes in the same fashion with waters, from a spring, running…
“Tityos” was a giant, who attempted to rape Leto at the behest of Hera and was slain by Apollo and Artemis, and was in “death” punished in “Tartarus” by being chained on a rock and having a couple of buzzard to eat his liver nightly, only a new one, would grow up each day to prolong his suffering eternally. This song, goes back to the “riffy” metal, epic, sort of songs like the first four on the album with even more “treble” yet doomy vocals. Slightly more nasal.
Finally there’s “Tantalus” which is based on the ruler of Tantalis, who allegedly offered his son Pelops as a feast to the gods after he had slain and cooked him up. For this “atrocious” act, apart from restoring the youth back to life, the gods, threw Tantalus to Tartarus and as a punishment made him stand, in a pool of water with a tree with low hanging fruit above him that he however could not reach and where if he would try to drink the water would recede and he could never quench his thirst… being so close yet so far... hence the verb “tantalize”… the song is both heavy but also melodic and has the riffy style that the “heavy” songs of this album tend to have.
I suppose, the album, itself has a bunch of good riffs, but is mostly plagued by overtly long songs that somewhat go on for a bit more than they should. It boasts a heavy and clear production that however could sound “darker” and fuller. The Chris Church guy, who sings is not bad, but is not charismatic... he sounds like an average, doom guy, but he’s not the one who’d make the band stand out of a heap of bands. Some songs like “Sisiphus”, “Danaides” and “Ixion” have promise and there are riffs and ideas in others as well, but overall I can’t say that the “whole” impresses me as much as I’d like to, or as much as the cool as cover, would make me want to…
Promising but… could turn out either way. Guys better put a Damocles sword above your heads while working on the second album. Not mine while reviewing it… smiley