TARTHARIA - ABSTRACT NATION - CRASH
Tartharia's biography claims that the Finnish band's last work, the A Secret Device EP, received complimentary comments from the metal community. While my first reaction was that such a thing was highly improbable unless the band had changed styles since that release, it did occur to me quickly thereafter that such a stunt should not have been too difficult to achieve given how the metal press gives nearly every release a positive review. Simply put, the metal press is the record companies' prostitute and will give anything a positive review lest the labels cut off the supply of free promos or advertising.
Sure, as far as Finnish bands go Tartharia is not the worst, but that is not saying much. The band, centered around a core duo, has music that goes back and forth between a lesser Iced Earth and a pedestrian Dimmu Borgir wanna-be. The production is average and the dreadful sound of keyboards and the incessant rattle of the drum machine seal the coffin shut. Listening to the band's simplified and rudimentary outro hammers the point home that this band's musicianship is not what it should be. The vocals oscillate between Carcass-styled screams and a deeper growl and as much as this might, well not really, have sufficed in 1990 the supposed extremity of vocals does next to nothing for the band in 2004. After all, growls and screams mean nothing when performed with as much feeling as a capitalist in a homeless shelter.
One has to admire the ability of these Finnish musicians to translate almost any band to a signed act, but that does not mean that there is a market for drab stuff like this. - Ali "The Metallian"
TARTHARIA - BLEEDING FOR THE DEVIL - PHANTOM PAIN
It seems as if nothing with Tartharia is straightforward. The group hails from Russia, decamped to Finland only to press this record on dark deep vinyl, with the bigger artwork that goes with it, and ship it to Metallian Towers via Estonia!
Then the puzzle really begins. Here we have a brutally bashing metal band with tight rhythms, hoarse deathscreams and crushing madness, but things screech to a halt with the odd synthesizer joke or tour-cook-and-mail vocals.
Not many bands nowadays sing the praises of metal - Tartharia calls itself “post death/black metal” but the LP kicks off with Metal Salvation. The song is brutal and performed with conviction. The guitar tone is reminiscent of Hypocrisy’s sharp distortion. The band’s tour maid does a few chants (truly Bridges Burning) before it is back to business. Alas, there are faint synthesizers on this thing as performed by Dimmu Borgir, but the bulk of the material is heavy and could be taken seriously. Side B is the same and begins with a faintly gothic rhythm and synthesizers, but once more the band batons down the hatches and gets going with real and effective metal. Half A Sense is a better track full of chaos and ends with some ethereal vocal chorus. The band bears all these extraneous influences and yet comes across as pounding bash metal wing to its heaviness and determined throbbing compositions. It is different, interesting and on vinyl! - Ali “The Metallian”
TARTHARIA - FLASHBACK X YEARS IN HELL - PHANTOM PAIN
It is painful to listen and hear the band use synthesizers. This is not a new album per se; rather it is a compilation of rare tracks and oddities from the band’s ten-year plus history compiled into an elegant CD. The sound throughout is professional, the jewel case and inserts are professionally made and delivered. Once again, an independent release (although the Russians have organised Plastic Head Distribution) beats a record that is issued by a label. Speaking of which, the band was once signed by USA’s Crash Music and like every other band on that label was ripped off or feels trampled upon, which was the genesis of Phantom Pain. The insert offers lyrics and snippets of trivia regarding the tracks.
Flashback features tracks recorded over a long period, but the sound quality is consistent in its production values. The songs are good, hard and brutal and are rarely derivative. This is why the utilization of cartoon pop synthesizers is even more damaging. No wonder the band moved to Finland. In that wuss of a country every stupid pop fad is accepted.
Hear Unfear and the song could have been something Morgoth had composed. Crowned By Name is vocally superlative. Then, in contrast, there is Over The Top (and others) with its love for Depeche Mode/Dimmu Borgir. Erotic Mutation, which opens the disc, is Emperor all over. Yes, it is that bad. Tartharia has a lot of potential, but songs like this should be pressed as singles and marketed to pre-teen girls and Finnish men. - Ali “The Metallian”