Death metal’s gentlemen have had quite a run as of late. Their recent jaunt across Europe, as main support for legendary UK doomers, My Dying Bride, has raised their profile outside the cozy confines of the mother isle, bringing more and more sets of ears in contact with one of 2011’s greatest listening treats, The Waspkeeper. This coming at a time when the UK is being heralded from all corners as the new Jerusalem of progressive and extreme metal, so Talanas are wisely choosing to stay relevant in the lead-up to their much-anticipated (by this reviewer, anyway) upcoming full-length, Daylight, by forging into the collectible 7” fray with the Corpseflower single.
From the moment the needle drops on the A-side, title track “Corpseflower” is tearing and clawing its way inside you through the first available orifice. Gentlemen or no, Talanas pull no punches with the ferocity and purpose of their music. Drummer Joe Butterworth cracks open your walnut with Thunder God-like execution whilst front-man extraordinaire Hal Sinden fills the crevice with a pestilential shriek cradled in swirling guitars. Slowing to a pace of methodical menace, the track stalks the listener across a soundscape of angry metal feely fingers – harsh lows, probing mids, haunting cleans from the human instrument, stinging string-pluck notes that hit with the sharpness of static shocks and bruising rhythm section propelling it all forward like mule-kicks to the lower back. The song would sit comfortably among the most luminous moments of The Waspkeeper, which is high praise indeed.
Then in the finest olde 7” tradition, Talanas get all gnostic on us with B-side “Beloved Whore”. Where “Corpseflower” launched into the assault like a cornered bear, “Beloved Whore” approaches with the grace of the balladeer. The delicacy of the craft is almost shocking, but then you remember that you’re dealing with intelligent metal here, where the goal is not always savagery and an actual moment of emotive honesty is not seen as antithetical. Rather than push you forward, the track beckons you follow down a thorny, yet beguiling path -- and you do so willingly. It is the strings that woo the listener as gorgeous bass notes (supplied with precision by Mark Duffy) combine with sultry guitar (from the tandem of Sinden and Ewan Parry), their muted whisperings building slowly, deliberately until you are engulfed, as though the very corpseflower from which the single takes its name had bloomed and all becomes covered in the presence of something undeniable. The description doesn’t sound very metal, yet the result is just that – very metal – but in a genre-redefining way reminiscent of courageous pioneers of progressiveness like Death or Opeth, but instantly recognizable as the mighty Talanas.
An early contender for single of the year to be sure, the Corpseflower 7” vinyl edition will be available through the band’s website, http://talanas.org March 1st , and seems certain to sell out quickly as vinyl editions of this nature tend to do.
Review by Tim Verhaegen