Released By: GMR Music
Release Date: June 15th, 2018
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Ronny Hemlin – Vocals
Christer Krunt Andersson – Guitars
Kenneth Jonsson – Guitars
Johan Löfgren – Bass
Peter Moren – Drums
2. Come Morpheus
3. Deprived of Light
4. I Am Night
5. Leviathan Rise
9. Salvage My Soul
10. Slaves to the Dying Sun
11. Turn to Dust
12. Vaunt the Cynical
13. Where Stars Align
14. Yet Still You Preach
There are some bands I’ve tried a few times in the past, but have never been hooked in by their albums. In the worst cases, I’ve been so bored by their music, the thought of me ever enjoying an album by them has always seemed like nothing more than a dream. One band that has never managed to win me over in the past is Swiss heavy/power metal band Tad Morose. I remember years ago seeing videos of a couple of their older songs and enjoying them, but not being hooked enough to try any of their full albums. Then in 2013, after an 11-year break in between albums, the band finally returned with Revenant, their first release with former Steel Attack vocalist Ronny Hemlin, who I was already familiar with, and his involvement piqued my interest, so I ended up giving the album a couple listens right away. Unfortunately, while I found the band’s very aggressive sound to be potentially enjoyable, the actual songwriting left a lot to be desired, and I quickly got bored of the album and never returned to it. The same thing ended up happening with their next release, St. Demonius, as once again the songs simply failed to grab me, and the chances of me ever being won over by the band seemed slim to none. When their new album, the appropriately named tenth full-length release Chapter X, was announced, I had very little excitement and had planned on skipping it, but when I was asked to review it, I decided to give the band one last try. Well, in a year full of surprises, anything can happen, and sure enough, while Chapter X hasn’t blown me away or anything, it has indeed left me entertained and has proven to be the first Tad Morose album I can consistently listen to and enjoy.
Nothing much has changed in between albums, so fans of the band should already know what to expect here. The band’s signature brand of dark, hard-hitting and riff-filled heavy/power metal is on full display here, with plenty of aggressive riffs and intense vocal sections throughout the album. There isn’t anything overly complex or challenging here, just some classic, no-nonsense metal with a focus on simple, but fun songwriting, as well as on being as dark and heavy as power metal can get at times. I do find this album has some moments where it’s a bit more melodic than the past two releases, though, and perhaps that’s part of why I find it more enjoyable, with some of the more traditional power metal tracks, in particular, being very easy for me to get into, though even some of the slower paced tracks have some great choruses and memorable vocal melodies. As expected, there’s a nice variety in the songwriting, with a good mix between speedy power metal, more mid-paced tracks and some slower, heavy metal tracks, as well as a ballad that closes out the album. There’s nothing overly surprising here, aside from some minor symphonic elements on opening track “Apocalypse”, but aside from a middle section that drags on a bit with too many samey sounding slower tracks, I find the album to be consistently entertaining and fun, with most of the tracks flowing nicely together and changing the pace up enough so its easy to stay engaged. Obviously, performances are strong across the board, with the two guitarists, in particular, shining as expected, and the production is powerful and top notch as always.
There are some singers I have a lot of a love/hate relationship with, in that I think they always sound great, but somehow their presence can have a strange quality of sucking away some of my enjoyment for an album. Ronny Hemlin is perhaps the strongest case of this, as I’ve always found him to be a great singer, but I find the Steel Attack albums with him to be easily the weakest by that band, and the last two Tad Morose albums didn’t exactly impress me much, either. Whatever my problem with him is, though, it seems to have remedied itself for now, as I do enjoy this album quite a bit, and he himself sounds great, as usual. He has a rather animated vocal style, sometimes getting slightly over the top, but he has a very deep and powerful voice that fits the aggressive sound of the band very well, while still being able to shine on the more melodic power metal oriented tracks. At this point, he’s clearly the perfect fit for the band, and he sounds better on this album than I’ve ever heard him before.
The biggest area of concern for me going into this album was the songwriting, which was what ruined the last two Tad Morose albums for me. Thankfully, while Chapter X still isn’t close to perfect, it’s a consistently entertaining album, with a strong start and a strong ending, plagued only by a somewhat monotonous middle section, though that is still decent enough that I never have to skip any tracks. The album gets off to a promising start with “Apocalypse”, the lead single. It immediately starts off with some fairly complex guitar work before settling into a mid-tempo groove, where Ronny’s powerful vocals kick in. It speeds up at various points and is an interesting track with a dark atmosphere, enhanced by some slight symphonic elements. It’s a very good song overall, with the guitar work and a nice, calm but atmospheric section in the second half being the highlights, though my one complaint is that the chorus is a bit simplistic and weak, compared to the rest of the track. Next is “Come to Morpheus”, a slower paced track with more hard-hitting riffs during the verses, though it opens up for some nice vocal melodies during the chorus, where Ronny really gets to shine. The instrumental section in the second half is intense and quite epic, and overall the track is one of my favorites on the album.
After the first two tracks, the album manages to keep the momentum going for quite a while, with the next track “Deprived of Light” being probably my favorite on the whole album. It’s a more traditional power metal track, moving at a frantic pace throughout, and while it’s pretty heavy as usual, it’s a bit more melodic than most songs here, with an epic, soaring chorus, as well as slight traces of keyboards throughout. Next is “I Am Night” another faster-paced track, though it’s a bit darker than its predecessor. It has another great chorus, with some powerful vocals, and it’s a pretty hard hitting and enjoyable track. The pace slows down after that with “Leviathan Rise”, one of the slower, darker tracks on the album, with the verses, in particular, is filled with a thick atmosphere, and the guitar work adds to the feel in a great way, while even Ronny’s voice sounds very deep and sinister, as he’s quite capable of doing. The chorus is pretty epic, and it’s another very good track overall. The energy picks up again with “Liar”, a fairly mid-paced track with slight speed bursts at points, and it has another fun chorus, as well as some nice melodies and a ton of heavy guitar work.
Sadly, the album goes a bit downhill for a bit, starting with “Masquerader”. The track itself is actually pretty good, being a fairly calm and mid-paced track with some nice riffs and a slight atmosphere to it, but it doesn’t impress in the way any of the previous tracks do, and the chorus is pretty weak. The best track in this section is “Nemesis”, another mid-paced track with slight speed bursts, as well as some thrashy riffs. It’s a pretty enjoyable track throughout, though its chorus is by far the best part, being one of the catchiest and most melodic on the album. After that is the fairly similar sounding “Salvage My Soul”, which again has some thrashy riffs, but without the melodies to counter them, the track ends up feeling a bit one dimensional and doesn’t quite grab me in the way most other songs on the album do… The weakest track of this section is “Slave to the Dying Sun”, which again has some very heavy riffs, but its verses are too similar sounding to the previous two tracks, while its chorus is really bad and has some of the worst vocal melodies I’ve heard in quite some time, completely killing the track for me. The biggest problem with this section, though, is that all the tracks are fairly mid-paced as well as a bit one dimension, with the exception of “Nemesis”, and so putting them together kills a bit of the momentum the album has been building up to that point.
Thankfully, the album ends in fine form, with the last four tracks all being winners. The first of these is the very hard-hitting, speedy power metal track “Turn to Dust”, which moves at a very frantic pace and has a melodic, excellent chorus, while also being thrashy and having some of the best riffs on the album. It’s definitely another one of my favorites here. Next is “Vaunt the Cynical”, a darker, slower paced track with more hard-hitting riffs, a strong atmosphere throughout, and a pretty solid chorus. The final speedier track on the album is “Where Stars Align”, which sounds like the band took a classic power metal track and modernized it just a bit, giving it a slight edged with some extra hard hitting riffs and some screamed vocals. The chorus is melodic and very catchy, the instrumental sections are excellent, and it’s a great track overall. Closing out the album is the ballad “Yet Still You Preach”, which has some nice softer guitar work that sets the tone, while Ronny truly shines throughout, especially during the chorus. It’s a bit surprising to hear the band end the album with such a soft track, but it still maintains the darker feel found on most of the other tracks, and it’s a very nice way to close out the album.
Overall Chapter X is a nice surprise, being the first Tad Morose album to keep me consistently entertained, and it’s a very solid heavy/power metal release in its own right, combining some heavy riffs and an often dark atmosphere with just enough strong melodies and catchy choruses to keep it from going overboard and being hard to swallow. While I find the middle section a bit repetitive, the rest of the album is very strong, and I can easily recommend it for fans of the band, as well as anyone looking for some hard-edged power metal, with a heavy metal tinge to it.
Written by: Travis Green