Tad Morose – St. Demonius (Despotz Records)

Thursday, 6th August 2015
Rating: 8.5/10

We all mourn the loss of our favorite lineups in music – so take a few seconds to accept the fact that Tad Morose are still alive sans Urban Breed helming the microphone. Although mighty important in sub-genres of metal where power and melody drive the main hooks, it’s not as if continental Europe isn’t loaded with talented singers these days. St. Demonius is the Swedes eighth full-length studio record, and second to feature ex-Steel Attack vocalist Ronny Hemlin – so for main guitarist Christer ‘Krunt’ Andersson, the show must go on in executing their finely crafted brand of power/heavy metal.

An air of the 1980’s floats about these 12 songs, beyond the King Diamond-ish/Isis Sousa oriented cover. The quintet pull no punches in getting to the heart of the hook early, and building each track through a series of melodic catches, be it vocally or musically. “Bow to the Reapers Blade” has all the requisite half-time doom changes, mini-gallops, and soaring Hemlin melodies to make this a solid winner in future Tad Morose live outings. Conversely the follow up “Forlorn” contains a bit of that darker, almost sinister Morgana Lefay bite in terms of the guitar tone and grittier vocal delivery… ‘not a trace of hope remains/ in the eyes of the future child’ echoing long after the last note fades.

Drummer Peter Morén performs with classic grace, never self-serving and knowing when to add a little fill/double bass flair for the straight forward anthem “Remain” or the faster, demanding power burner “The Shadows Play”. Ronny’s voice has that heavy metal meets traditional doom sheen – at times many will probably think of Ripper Owens or Warrel Dane and then Messiah Marcolin or Robert Lowe as he has this sixth sense for when to reach for the stars or mine emotional gold in lower registers. The mid-tempo crunchy “Black Fire” and semi-haunting “Dream of Memories” are two of his best works with Tad Morose to date, and remind me of why he’s the perfect choice for the band due to his versatility.

Time will tell if being the bigger fish in Despotz’s label roster pays dividends, but for now based on output alone St. Demonius keeps the band firing on all classic power/traditional cylinders. Recommended for those who miss early Savatage or Dio-period Sabbath oriented metal in tight 3-5 minute bursts.

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