TAROT: Suffer Our Pleasures CD. With Marco Hietala from NIGHTWISH. Traditional Super Heavy Metal. Check audio (whole album)

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Check all samples:  www.allmusic.com/album/suffer-our-pleasures-mw0000696613

Marco Hietala from NIGHTWISH is the leader and it is absolutely remarkable that TAROT have the same line up for 16 years now, with Marco and Zachary Hietala, Janne Tolsa and Pecu Cinnari. You hear that on each of their albums, that they are perfectly meshed together in this traditional Melodic Metal with a modern production. The band still is tight, melodic, but never flat, never even coming close to any happy HELLOWEEN-isms, with the very characteristic and good voice of master Hietala, which truly manages to leave its mark on the songs. Recommended to anyone who is interested in the traditional styles and can appreciate high-class songwriting, which does not follow any trends or streams. TAROT deserved to get the recognition that they should have received years ago. “Suffer Our Pleasures” has everything that you need and more!

“Behold: The Pyre Of Gods…” – 95%

Amidst the rising fame of Nightwish following their 2002 ‘Century Child’ album those not fully in sync with the steady stream of high quality music coming from Finland and other northern European countries may sometimes not be exposed to many great bands. Tarot, though around since 1985, seems to be one of those bands, and indeed I found out about them because I was a big fan of Marco Hietala’s vocal contribution on ‘Century Child’. Fear not! It also seems that many are steadily finding out about them through Marco, just like me, as Nightwish grows steadily more and more popular, and as more publicity has been put into their videos and most recent album ‘Crows Fly Black’.

‘Suffer Our Pleasures’, however, truly demonstrates the band’s longevity and malleability. It’s rare to find groups that have not only been around since the 1980’s but that have continually redefined their sound to keep up with (or in this case, lead) the rising and setting trends of contemporary metal styles. Since the members have put such an effort into this project’s songs for the past 20-odd years its amazing to hear what the Hietala brothers and close friends can do without record-sale obligations or popular expectations. Instead we’re given raw metal with more attitude and grit than some other respected and esteemed bands of comparable genres such as Kamelot or, yes, Nightwish.

The album opens with a great song, ‘I Rule’, where Marco delivers a truly metal performance through singing (quite harshly but fantastically might I add) from the point of view of a monster ruling all that is dark and killing people. If you think about it the chorus almost sounds as though he’s advertising a new apple product (new in stores: the 550GB iRule!! Buy it through iTunes!). Here, however, is a case in point; it’s sometimes easy to let the bone-crushing vocals overshadow the actual music.

It’s true, there are no fancy modal guitar solos, no over-the-top keyboard runs, just heavy…yet surprisingly catchy…guitar riffs. The only thing I can criticize about the album is that while Zach is no doubt a metal guitarist, that’s exactly his problem–he’s as generic as they come in the way of shred solos. However, over the past couple years, I’ve found that while I love Marco just as much as I did back then the guitar melodies (not solos) that Zach comes up with are just as enjoyable as the actual vocal melodies (and thats saying a lot) and keep me coming back to this album. The intro riff to ‘I Rule’ is very unique as are many other riffs throughout the album.

By definition of instrumentation in metal genres, Tarot follows the line-up of a power metal band with Janne Tolsa on keyboards and, as mentioned, Zachary Hietala on guitar. Don’t be fooled however; you won’t hear lead keyboard, hardly at all, on this album, but instead atmospheric background parts. It might be a little boring to be the keyboard player in Tarot, but I do admire the person who’s willing to hang out in the back of a song for the sake of making awesome music.

The rest of the album is great and gives listeners a variety of tempo and style. ‘Of Time and Dust’ is a great atmospheric ballad, the beginning of which makes me feel a little on drugs (just listen to it, you’ll understand). ‘Convulsions’ is just as catchy as the others, but in the second half goes in a different direction than the other songs; a guitar solo, followed by a key solo, followed by a kick ass but unfortunately short bass solo (and trust me, though it’s short its awesome). My favorite songs, however, are ‘Undead Son’ and ‘Painless’. Both are very catchy and just have that easy-to-listen-to factor.

I can’t imagine a metal-lover not enjoying this album, even those who abhor power metal bands like Sonata Arctica or Angra. This album walks the line between power metal and heavy metal, but in the end satisfies both aspects for me.

Tarot’s creative pinnacle – 99%

Recently, I’ve come across most of Tarot’s discography, and believe it or not, this weird and cool Finnish band has been cranking out great metal for some twenty odd years, not stopping since. This album is their 2003 output, and I consider it the best damn album they ever put out.

This album feels darker then Tarot’s previous releases, some of which had a real party-metal feel to it (especially their first album). The production is light years beyond the thin production from previous outings. The lyrics are all intelligent and twisted, very cool. And the songwriting here is spot-on, completely fucking killer throughout the whole disk.

The songs here are very good, but none of them stands out as the best, or far better then the others. None of them sound alike, there’s a lot of variety here. We’ve got balls-out headbangers like “I Rule”, “Pyre of Gods”, “Follow the Blind”, and “From the Shadows.” There is the ballad “Of Time and Dust”, with an excellent, emotional chorus that sends a chill down my back. “Undead Son” and “From the Void” are more power-metallish tunes, and they have extremely catchy choruses. Good stuff. “Convulsions” is a creepy, dark little rocker with some killer lyrical work and a growling chorus. “Rider of the Last Day” is my favorite song here, a 7 minute epic in the vein of classic Black Sabbath, almost, but Tarot’s original sound still prevails.

“Painless” is the last track here, and it’s…different. It’s mostly bass guitar and vocals throughout the whole song, with nothing else, and Hietala’s vocals are a pained, agonized shriek. It’s a great closer to the album, very gritty and dirty sounding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It might take a while to grow on those who are accustomed to polished power metal, but it’s an interesting song, certainly original.

Tarot’s musical talent shines here. “From the Shadows” has a very bluegrass-sounding guitar intro that leads into a speed/thrash metal assault. There’s the breakdown on “Convulsions” that gives the song a very dirty and grimy feel, as if you’re seeing through the eyes of a depraved maniac. The keyboard trills on the final line of the chorus of “Follow the Blind” are excellent and give off a very eerie and dark vibe. And “Pyre of Gods” has some really cool shredding parts in the middle. I don’t find myself noticing the drumming much, but it’s not a detractor, that’s for sure. The guitarwork is spectacular, with heavy riffs and some great leads in some of the songs. And Marco Hietala’s bass is certainly commendable. See “Painless” for proof.

Sometimes the keyboards don’t fit in here, though. Songs like “I Rule” would benefit from dual guitar attacks instead of the keyboard backing, although I can’t call them a detractor, seeing as how they only enhance the rest of the songs here. Especially on “Rider of the Last Day”, where they give a very theatrical feel to the main riffs by backing them up during the faster parts of the songs. So, I can’t say there are any huge flaws here, and this is really one of my favorite heavy metal albums to date.

As I mentioned earlier, none of the songs here are that much better than any of the others. There are no filler or weak tracks (“From the Void” had to grow on me though), and there are no exceptional masterpieces that stick out as revolutionary or better then anything the band has done before. The whole album is a standout, as a whole. It’s not all that progressive or revolutionary, it’s just a creative, original band at the zenith of their art, perfecting it. This band follows no trends, caters to no audience, and they do not change their sound to match the popular ones of the times. They play heavy metal like it was meant to be, and I hope Tarot lives on for a good long time. Go get this album, then check out the rest of their stuff. Highly recommended.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Search The Tarot For Excellent Metal
The name Tarot inspires a sense of mystery and power right off the bat when you hear the word. Metal power is most certainly the case from this band with the same name. Their release entitled “Suffer Our Pleasures” will immediately appeal to fans of the band Nightwish for their very own Bassist Marco Hitela performs these duties and sings lead on the tracks. On the guitar is his Brother Zachary and the combination is truly a tasty piece of music. Marco is very impressive on lead vocals, and for those who have seen Nightwish they know he provides a large amount of the backup for Tarja Turunen and does a great job of it as well. It is nice to see him able to sing full numbers for a change. Some of them are damned good.

The band is rounded out by Janne Tolsa on keyboards and Pecu Cinnari on drums. Each player providing the skill I felt best matched the music Marco and Zach had written. Some of the grooves have a little of a Nightwish feel to them, but not as much as you might expect. Marco was in this group before he joined Nightwish so perhaps he brought some of the writing style to them. The sound is definitely in line with a lot of the metal that is coming out of Finland nowadays, and so far so good on that. I have yet to be totally disappointed in the Finns and their quest to dominate modern metal.

My favorites are primarily “I Rule” and “From The Void” since they just kicked when played loud. There is also a semi-epic in “Rider Of The Last Day”. This number starts out slow and grinding, yet picks up speed considerably only to slow down to a whisper at the end. It is done very well. “From The Shadows” is perhaps the quickest number on the CD, with its almost Southern Country beginning it was quite fun. One does not expect this feel to come from a band in Finland. Yet music being universal, I guess influences fall into the same track.

Anyone who enjoys Marcos work as a performer with Nightwish should pick this up, to see the other side of what he is also capable of. It is a solid piece throughout and you will find yourself giving many tracks a second and continual listen.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward Metal Gem!!
In the era of metal sub genres its great to hear a band that just plays straight forward metal in a modern way. Not power, death, progressive, or worst of all nu-metal, just METAL! Tarot not only play it but succeed at a very high level. Tarot are very heavy yet still melodic similar to other great bands like Tad Morose, Brainstorm, and AngelDust. Tarot write great no- nonsense songs with huge hooks, some of the most memorable of all time in fact. ‘Pyre of God’ and ‘From the Void’ are two of the best songs of all time IMO, while all of the songs on the album are great and there is no filler material to be heard. All of the band members have just a God given talent as musicians. The guitar player is writing some clever and catchy riffs and can deliver some truly first class soloing. The singer is huge, reminding me sometimes of the great Ronnie James Dio himself, he adds in a ton of epic vocal harmonies to layer the songs with a really big sound. The drums and bass are flawless and can be heard nicely in the well rounded and first rate production. This is a must have album! Check out song samples from the bands site […] and hear for yourself!

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5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars – possibly the best Tarot album,
2003s Suffer Our Pleasures is the sixth studio album from long-running Finnish heavy/power metal band Tarot, which features Nightwish bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala and his brother Zachary on guitars. Tarot got their start in the mid `80s with a very NWOBHM-influenced sound, but it was this album where they really re-started their career in earnest and took their place in the top tier of Finnish power metal bands.

Suffer Our Pleasures is a fantastic album all around. It works as a traditional metal album and it works as a European power metal album. Unlike, say, Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius (who I also like to varying degrees), Tarot never forgets that metal should be heavy as well as melodic. You’re going to bang your head to this one, but you’re also going to be able to sing along. The overall heaviness is matched by the lyrics to these songs, which tend to be a little darker than average. Hietala (Marco, that is) has such a distinctive voice, and its good to hear him in a lead role. Zachary Hietalas guitar work is another huge part of Tarots sound. Hes great at melodic leads and delivers some fantastic solos as well. Standouts on this one include “I Rule,” “Rider of the Last Day” and “From the Void,” but honestly the whole album kills from start to finish.

Chalk up another first rate album from Tarot, a band that has yet to issue a less than great release. Actually, Suffer Our Pleasures may be the very best Tarot album. If you’re a fan of Marco Hietalas work in Nightwish, you definitely need to hear this album, and if you’re a fan of the heavier power metal bands (think Brainstorm, Symphorce and Tad Morose), you need to hear Tarot, and this is a great album to start with.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Something dark and dank stirs in the depths,
As the bottom end power of the lead cut I Rule burbles out of your speakers your attention is immediately drawn to them. A throbbing bottom end of power, power and then some power to add a little garnish. The entire cut right down to the vocals of Marco Hietala drips the sort of full bodied solid-as-oak vibe (and vibration). Come the second tune Pyre of Gods repeats the dose.

Musically Finlands Tarot are plumbing a traditional heavy metal with a few twinges of power and goth in doses that add to the brew rather than commandeer the musical direction. The overall effect is…. well traditional metal that has been crafted with passion rather than as a marketing gambit (we’ve all see that eh?). On the slower and more groove based numbers such as Rider of the Last Day the effect is not abandoned but rather there is still a bubbling rumble to the tunes. Guitars are taken care of by Marcos brother Zachary who seems equally capable of adding his six strings to the general plod of doom or able to add a raspy scything style of playing as needed. Vocally Marco is in fine form though how the human larynx would go trying to emulate this each night on a tour I’m uncertain. However what you get is a not terribly gymnastic but very visceral gargle that evokes power and a raw feel but doesn’t descend into cookie-monster-on-acid territory (phew).

Lyrically its all pretty trad metal terrain. Come on, you know what a band like this is going to sing about don’t you? The song titles give an indication of what is going on anyway.

Production is fitting for the product at hand. In fact it is the production that allows such a bottom end powerplay to be pulled off while keeping the instruments separate in the mix and not turn the whole thing into a rather unpleasant aural broth.

A very fine purchase for fans of traditional metal.

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