|Release Date||20 Apr 2019|
I’ve listened to a lot of great progressive metal this month (well, I think prog rock would be more accurate for this, but it fits just fine into both genres), but Tillian’s dramatic, dynamic debut album, Lotus Graveyard, is a god damn piece of work. There were a couple times when I thought I had these guys figured out, but then I’d be blindsided by some wacky vocal fill or fucked up riff that threw me back into ignorance. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not; one of the best aspects of great music is the ability to keep you in the dark and continuously open your eyes to something wonderfully imaginative. That’s basically the entire point of prog, isn’t it?
Even though they’re relatively new on the scene, Tillian have proven that they’re a force to be reckoned. Their instrumentation ranges from heavily distorted guitars and pounding drums to soft acoustic piano and cello parts, all supported by various backing keyboards. On top of that, the songwriting is crazy good. Throughout Lotus Graveyard’s expansive landscape, there are soft songs like ‘Touched’ and ‘Earth Walker’, that pack powerful emotion despite their tenderness, and heavier metal in tracks such as ‘Love or Heaven’. Many of the songs also have a prominent Eastern influence, with ‘Moonlight Dancer’ being the most obvious example.
While all of the parts and players are virtually flawless, I do have a few favourites to pick with Lotus Graveyard. My top-favourite thing within the record is Leah Marcu’s insanely versatile voice. She’s got it all: beauty, power, rampant vibrato, agility, dynamics. The command she has over her voice is on par with the command Jackie Chan has over his body and it’s just fucking ridiculous. My other favourite piece of the album is ‘Black Holes’, which combines all of the album’s elements (not to mention the sick drumming) into one killer track that’s all over the place in the best of ways.
It’s near fucking impossible to find any issues with this album. The only thing that comes close to being a “problem” is that many sections of the album, especially Marcu’s vocal style, sound strikingly similar to Muse. This is almost distractingly apparent in ‘Frozen Sun’ and ‘Monster’, which sound like they could have been taken straight from the album Showbiz. Honestly, though, this isn’t an issue because it’s not derivation as much as it is using a couple melodies and scales that they also happened to have used.
This fresh, skilled septet has begun with such a phenomenal album that it’s pretty tough to see how they could ever top it. Fans of technical prog that’s fluid to the core will get a lot out of this record.
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