TALANAS - 'SISTER DAMNABLE'
COMING SOON: 'asylum' digibook (20+ page of colour artwork, CD & DVD discs, all in 1200gsm hardback binding)
"Stripped-back gothic splendour from an unexpected source: There are bands where it's possible to precisely locate the time in their career when their creativity is spent, happy to churn out albums that are feeble replicas of their greatest works. With asylum, talanas have demonstrated that they still possess a raft of fresh ideas. The band have already established a solid reputation for producing riveting, progressive death metal in the mould of Opeth and Akercocke, yet with this 'unplugged' album, they've demonstrated a flair for the unexpected. Their sound here may be stripped back and without the distinctive juddering riffs and gruff vocals, yet they've lost none of the intensity or dark supremacy that is their hallmark. Instead, tracks such as 'sister damnable' and 'nothing gained' have a gothic intensity that's reminiscent of Fields Of The Nephilim and Wayne Hussey-era Sisters Of Mercy. Crucially, the use of clean vocals throughout will also appeal to those who find their usual growling vocals either unpalatable or a touch passé. Indeed, the only palpable flaw is that this is only a five-track EP, as talanas have shown a side to their music that demands to be examined further in future releases."
CLASSIC ROCK PRESENTS PROG
"Bar a witnessed support slot with Christ Agony back in 2011, 'asylum' represents my first exposure to talanas. Whether or not an acoustic EP is the best way to introduce yourself to a dark progressive death metal band's recorded fare is open to debate, however, it does mean that I can judge 'asylum' solely on its own merits - and those are many. The sound is beautiful, full and rounded, but with space between the instruments allowing each note to resound with its deserved prominence. The atmosphere created is utterly captivating, making the mundane world about you fade from your consciousness. The delicately ringing notes draw you on down shadowed paths into the heart of these haunted tales of mystery. talanas have conjured something thrilling within these essentially gentle tones that is a real pleasure to experience. I'm at times reminded of the wonderful atmosphere of Tiamat's 'Wild Honey' album - though there is superficially little direct similarity to be found. Rather, it's a link that's hidden in the way certain notes fall like dew drops, in the hypnotic wash of sound and the absorbing textures. As I've said, I can offer no worthwhile observations on how 'asylum' might compare to talanas' less restrained works, but as a single, precious thing is its own right... well, it's quite special - at times, little short of magical."
"Where many a metal act have suffered under the exposing scrutiny of an unplugged studio outing, the temporary absence of talanas' extreme dynamics offers a rare opportunity to showcase the tautly-spun melodic symmetries for which they're equally admired. Stripped of talanas' usual sound and fury, the minimalist foundations allow infinite space for a delicate plethora of detailed acoustic whisperings to unfurl. Through a stirring medley of gilded fretwork, the album's spellbinding title track makes for mesmerising listening, while 'the apostle' looms exquisitely large with ghostly atmospherics. While the album's more leisurely moments will likely test shorter attention spans, talanas' instinctive knack for delectably dark atmospherics has never been more evident."
"Often referred to as the gentlemen of Death Metal, Talanas take a new direction are back with their acoustic follow up release Asylum, a record that features both clean electric and acoustic guitars as well as plenty of bass and drum led delicacies. Thematically the band lunge further into haunting stories of possessions and witchcraft with influences of Fields of the Nephilim and David Sylvian remaining resonate throughout.
Opening with eerie sounding ‘Sister Damnable’ the clean vocals sweep in with ease amidst the clean guitars and sturdy drums. The use of whispering vocals add to the creepy sounding blanket to the instrumentation that is fortified by the consistency within the acoustic guitars.
‘My Lady White’ flows in a similar vein with ghastly vocals and impressive guitar passages. The drum work remains consistent throughout as the eastern influences serves the from the melancholy tones being explored.
Standout track, ‘The Apostle’ features some of the best sung vocals on this record and comes fully packed with enough depth to lose yourself in the lyrical content. The guitars plunge even as the multi layered sound takes you on a journey into your very core. The female backing vocals from Beth Ryan display a good dynamism of the bands craftsmanship and you’ll be hitting the replay button on this song for some time to come.
Finishing off with ‘Nothing Gained’, a closing track draped in ambient effects, the vocals float through into a truly engrossing experience. Vocally, everything is delivered with passion and sincerity granting a listener a window into the world of Talanas and their mournful landscapes in which they inhabit.
Classy and intelligently written music such as this is something that is definitely worth your time. What’s great about this band is their ability to depict captivating music that will get you thinking for hours long afterwards. Great work guys, looking forward to hearing more in the future."
"It seemed a bit of an odd and in a very English way, eccentric idea for UK progressive black, death metal band Talanas to go down the acoustic and unplugged route. However on listening to new mini album ‘Asylum’ and on dipping back to their 2011 release ‘The Waspkeeper it became abundantly clear that it was not that much more than a sidestep for them and a parallel from their previous more in the face output. Certainly we lose some of the burgeoning pummelling aspects and along with that the more technical sweeps with Talanas in a stripped down mode but there has always been a lot more about them than this and whilst those facets are on the whole tethered, the dark moods and atmospheric intricacies of their music are heightened. This is particularly important too as narratively we are drenched in the rich lore of our isles sinister side as thematic odes to hauntings, witchcraft, madness and general occultism are tackled here.
‘Sister Damnable’ sounds as though it is a tale of a fallen nun burnt at the stake for heresy and no doubt it could well be. The instrumentation eases us in with its enchanting and spellbinding tones before vocals babble in beseeching and mysteriously. This is instantly dark and has an eerie and mystical vibe as the riffs slowly glimmer and drums gently tap opening gothic and arcane passageways as it twists and turns. You feel chilled out and mesmerised by this and it has a bit of a snake charming effect as it slithers onwards. As vocalist Hal Sinden moves towards more upfront clean singing it summons in past memories of a thin white duke and he certainly has a Bowiesque tone about his devilish delivery. ‘My Lady White’ is a classic sounding ghost story of a title with wind whipping at cliffs before the dulcimer bewitches adding a fragrance that is heady and beguiling. This is dark poeticism of the soul and feels very classical in tone as this ode of lost love unveils itself. Musically and vocally it has a magical and almost fairy-tale vibe about it and like all good tales of its ilk is one that lures you in and leaves you in fear as much as it caresses.
Despite the fact this is unplugged there is still lots to focus on and music of this type can have lots of substance and does not need to rely on abject stark minimalism. This has been very much proved by the way it has got my imagination flowing. The tone of Bauhaus seeps into the moody sermon of ‘The Apostle’ and as much as it reminds of Bowie I am also drawn towards thinking of the solo work and voice of Chris Connelly as well. The haunting (and that is the best way to describe them) waft of Beth Ryan’s vocals add to this perfectly sending a really cold shiver down my spine. The title track is more riff orientated and picks up the pace a bit, melody is strong, intricate and very natural sounding as it freely flows elegantly along. This half hour voyage is one that drips with rich dark moods and the occultist feeling at its heart really comes through. The muffled first part of closing track ‘Nothing Gained’ sounds like it could have been recorded in in stygian chambers before the cleaner sound suddenly brings enlightenment. Obviously a lot of thought has gone into the construction of this and it has been a more than welcome aside before the band no doubt move towards looking at that all important second full length album."
"It’s always nice when bands throw out an unexpected curve-ball, something designed to both challenge and reward their listeners.
Progressive Death Metal proto-titans Talanas have decided to do just that with their new, about to be released, mini-album Asylum, putting a markedly different spin on their signature sound.
Whereas the band’s usual approach – akin to Akercocke and My Dying Bride copulating in a field of dead flowers and broken dreams – gives the listener the sensation of being choked and pummelled by an iron fist in a velvet glove, they’ve taken a decidedly different turn on Asylum, stripping out the deathly aggression and metallic distortion, accentuating instead the ethereal wonder and decayed glamour of their gothic roots.
Though only five songs in length, there’s easily enough depth and breadth of sound here to satisfy even the most ravenous listener, and have them coming back again and again, desperate for more.
The obsidian glamour of “Sister Damnable” draws down a silken veil of intricate guitar work, where whispering vocal harmonies caress the ear with sombre grace – recalling the Peaceville Three in their prime – while the soft patter of drums kisses the canvas with subtle splashes of decadent colour.
Nuanced and progressive, possessed of a quiet, patient power, the song lives and dies in its dynamic construction, weaving together crimson threads of pain and solitude into a tapestry of bewitching beauty and quiet despair.
The seductive, swaying motion of “My Lady White” conjures a blissful narcotic spell, accentuated by esoteric touches of hammered dulcimer and flowing, hypnotic acoustic guitar. Time seems to slow to a dreamlike crawl as the song washes over the listener in soothing waves of exquisite anguish.
Minimalist and mesmerising, the breathless serenity of “The Apostle” teases deep shadows and hidden depths with its languid instrumentation and graceful interplay of male and female voices, which leads into the sanguinary rhythms and pulsating ambience of “Asylum”.
The album’s title track is a wealth of dark treasures and gleaming jewels, multi-faceted and melodic, brooding and beautiful, whose blood-stained vigour ebbs and flows until the song’s last dying breath.
All things must end though, and the ghostly strains of “Nothing Gained” provide a fitting finale for this strange and sibylline journey into darkness.
The distant, echoing drums paint an atmosphere of fading grandeur, as chiming celestial guitars shiver, shimmer, and shudder, in their euphoric death throes. The elegiac vocals exhale a morphine cloud of mournful melodies whose lachrymose lyrical flair provides a final exultant epitaph as the song sinks back into the endless silence.
A near-perfect synthesis of raw emotion and progressive nuance, the whole experience of this album is, in a word, captivating. It sinks into your skin, into your very marrow, leaving you haunted and tormented by that which you cannot forget.
Utterly enthralling from start to finish, this is the truest expression of the old aphorism that, in the right hands at least, less is more."
NO CLEAN SINGING
Dubbed “The Gentlemen of Death Metal” by Classic Rock Presents Prog Magazine, TALANAS have become known for providing a distinguished slant on occasionally unlikely musical ingredients and now open a window onto their sound when their amps are turned off.
Still utilising their full dynamic range of seven string electric (and acoustic) guitars & basses together with drummer Joe Butterworth’s custom, four kick drumkit, the band also worked with hammered dulcimer expert Tim Manning (on ‘my lady white’) and fellow Eulogy Media artist Beth Ryan (on ‘the apostle’).
Recorded at London’s Berry Street Studio, the self produced mini-album’s five songs concentrate on Britain’s rich history of supernatural and occult-based tales of murderous hauntings, possession, witchcraft & insanity. Calling on influences such as Fields of the Nephilim, David Sylvian & Einstürzende Neubauten, it also marks the group’s concerted effort to explore different approaches to songwriting, as frontman Hal Sinden explains:
“Though rooted in extreme metal, TALANAS has always been about creating specific atmospheres regardless of the genre of the result. In this instance, we wanted to make sure we could still invoke the same esotericism without having to rely on volume and distortion, especially since James sodding Blunt has come back out of retirement, whilst getting a chance to work with some truly great guest musicians.”
Available digitally from February 22nd through Eulogy Media (Rannoch, Dām, interlock), the release will be accompanied by a blood-soaked promo video for lead track ‘sister damnable’, a preview for which can be seen via the following link: youtu.be/VEI2jQNcMIc