Tuesday, February 15

Tangent Plane - Project Elimi

Tangent Plane
Project Elimi


Hearing about another power/prog band on the 7Hard label got me pretty excited. After all, this label has been on fire lately with a bunch of quality releases. Tangent Plane themselves are putting out their second release with Project Elimi, and their first with 7Hard as their label. This band has actually been around since 1996 and play not power/prog (as I was originally led to believe), but rather a quirky and somewhat aggressive blend of heavy metal with some progressive elements.

A few things become quickly evident after hitting play: this is not quite heavy/prog metal as I'm used to it, and Project Elimi is maybe a little bit out of my comfort zone. The guitars are deep and crunchy and definitely take a back seat to the vocals, playing a very strong rhythmic role in most of the songs here. A modest solo presents itself here and there, but the axe man Pellegrino is largely relegated to a support task. Despite this, he does perform quite well, taking his occasional step into the limelight in stride. The rest of the rhythm section gets a mixed reaction from me. Percussively, this is pretty unremarkable work, and not overly complex. On the other hand, the bass is quite well-mixed and very easy to pick out and follow along with, which I appreciate. Pity it doesn't play a more interesting part.

Effects: this album is full of them, from guitars, keyboards, vocals, and beyond. No song and almost no section escapes their touch. Sometimes this sounds great (There are some great keyboard licks here, and generally a fine performance), and sometimes it gets to be a little too much. I feel that vocal effects need to be light and tasteful unless they're made prominent for a very specific and well-defined purpose. The vocal distortion on this album just competes with the guitar when it happens, and comes out sounding kind of messy. Granted, this is due in part to the vocal style of Jan Otto.

Guess what time it is now? Time to address a serious vocal issue which for some (like myself), will diminish the level of enjoyment found on an otherwise respectable album. Jan Otto has a fabulous voice: he's powerful, can be tender, and is clearly the spotlight of the band, but I can't express how desperately he needs to cut back on that bloody vibrato. The guy sounds like he's shaking his head and neck around ceaselessly, and while he achieves a very strong and pronounced vibrato, it's ridiculously over-dramatic and wholly unnecessary a majority of the time.

Other than that, Project Elimi really suffers from little else, other than just not being terribly memorable. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you're a band that relies on your vocalist to deliver the goods, you better be darn sure that he's going to attract a wide appeal and sing some catchy melodies. Being a proggy band is no excuse not to write catchy music (plenty of bands have achieved this in the past), and Tangent Plane fail much of the time to deliver the hooks. When the voice gets to be too much for me, I look to the guitars for some salvation, and there isn't much to be found.

This is a well-played and well-recorded album, but I don't think that Tangent Plane are going to make out terribly well on it. This band has more potential than most, and now they just need to put it all together in the right way. Hence, Project Elimi isn't a poor album, just one that doesn't appeal to me and won't to a number of others. If you're into hard, crunchy modern progressive metal with effects, some aggression, and don't mind the ridiculous vibrato, you might dig this a whole lot. 

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The Protagonist's Rating: 5.5 out of 10

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