This is second in a series of posts recording my reactions to my Top 9 Albums I’m Looking Forward to in 2014. Today I’m looking at Asylum, a 5-track acoustic mini-album from talanas.
My impressions: From the subtly off-kilter strains of the opening track, “Sister Damnable,” it’s clear that talanas have not interpreted “acoustic” as “easy-listening”. talanas have always had a softer side, as evidenced by tracks like “Prussia White” from The Waspkeeper and “Beloved Whore” from the Corpseflower single. This mini-album is a logical development of that part of the band’s repertoire. One of the most fascinating things about Asylum is its variety of vocal textures. The softer instrumentation really allows the vocals to take center stage. Hal Sinden’s already impressive range of clean singing, death growls, and spoken word is complemented by backing vocals from other band members and a guest vocal by Beth Ryan on “The Apostle”.
Also, even deprived of opportunities to unleash torrents of blast beats, drummer Joe Butterworth continues to distinguish himself as one of the most under-rated drummers in metal.
If you’ve never heard talanas before, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start – it’s a perfect exemplar of how atmospheric, layered, and textured their music can be, even if it isn’t entirely representative of how ferocious they can sound in fully electric mode. Long-time fans shouldn’t skip this either.
Favorite tracks: “Sister Damnable,” “My Lady White,” “Asylum.” I guess I’d better stop there since I’ve already listed 3/5 of the tracks on the album.
Overall verdict: While it’s a wonderful release in its own right, I’ll admit that hearing Asylum has made me all the more impatient for talanas’s next full-length album. I can’t wait to hear how they meld this increased atmosphere and texture with the other elements of their sound.
At the moment, Asylum is a download-only release, available from the band’s bandcamp site. However, they are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to produce a physical digibook edition. Pledge at a high enough level, and you can have high tea with the band. Because what’s better than supporting high-quality progressive metal? Supporting high-quality progressive metal while having tea.