There’s a a bit of a cliché in the music business that you only get one shot at getting it right. Make it a great one and you can be set for life; if it’s a scuffed one or a miss-kick, you can spend a long time rueing what might have been. The debut album from Talanas is a great case in point. Having garnered a lot of critical praise and fans from the exceptional EP, “Reason and Abstract”, the band now have upped the ante considerably,with their the first full length release, “The Waspkeeper”.
Let’s get the judgement out of the way immediately: “The Waspkeeper” is absolutely stunning. There. I’ve said it. Honest, it is. From the ferocious prog metal opener of ‘ananta (the portrait)’ to the Depeche Mode-drenched forlorn drama that is ‘the unhealing II’, these are eleven ridiculously accomplished tracks that will have you cheering from the rafters that extreme British music is in very rude health indeed.
The album title is an evocative one; redolent of English gardener types going about their business. But in Talanas‘s case these aren’t the gardens of genteel cream teas or long summer afternoons- they are gardens of menace and horror, littered with the creeping ivy of ancient mausoleums and sepulchres. This is an album rich in drama and imagery, relentless in its ferocity but crafted and executed in such an exemplary manner I would, if I had one to hand, be doffing my cap.
Influences abound but what influences they are and what Talanas have done with them in using them to create “The Waspkeeper” is pretty special. Yes you can hear Opeth, My Dying Bride, Ackercoke; you can, more surprisingly, hear Fields of the Nephilim, Depeche Mode and, my goodness, Japan. Do you know what? I could care less, especially when you consider how good the songs they have crafted here are.
There are at least two tracks on here that could easily be singles- ‘antiphon’ has a prog structure with parallel undertones of black metal and goth drama; ‘the ecstasy of betrayal’, the most obvious track for a live encore (get the tour sorted chaps) will have you raising your horns and nodding your head at its brilliance.
There’s an intriguing series of guest appearances on the album, but all of them are fabulous additions rather than “look how cool we are” name checks. JD Quintus from The Meads of Asphodel adds a growl or twenty to the brutal prog track ‘a fortune worth its disguise’. From Great Height‘s Adam Ever pops up on the gothic drama fest of ‘messaline’ and, yes, that is Jason Mendonca of Ackercocke adding his notable presence on ‘penetralium’.
“The Waspkeeper” is an album that is so utterly accomplished it almost beggars belief. The production from Jaime Gomez Arellano (he of Ghost and Cathedral duties fame) is exceptional, bringing out the bands song writing craft, sense of drama and atmosphere but never losing one scintilla of their inherent ferocity.
If they say that you only get one shot, then “The Waspkeeper” is the aural equivalent of a Wayne Rooney bicycle kick. A blast.