When a band changes a key member of their lineup or alters their sound, I tend to be a harsh judge and quick to move on if I’m not a fan of the new member or style. I’ve always been a huge fan of Urban Breed, and when he left TAD MOROSE in 2003, I mostly tuned the band out. After a decade had passed, they released Revenant with new singer Ronny Hemlin (ex-STEEL ATTACK), and it was a disappointment – it sounded nothing like TAD MOROSE of old, and I no longer had any interest in the band.
Fast forward to a few days ago. I received the new album, St. Demonius (out now on Despotz Records) and popped it in for a quick listen, not expecting to be thrilled at all. I randomly fired up “Where Ignorance Reigns”, and it blew the top of my head off! This is some good stuff, and anyone who was disappointed by the last outing from the band really should give them another chance.
Is it classic, Urban Breed-era TAD MOROSE? No, it’s not. However, it’s some very good heavy/power metal with a dark feeling to it, full of hard-driving riffs and some really great songwriting. The songs aren’t terribly complex – they’ve definitely left the last vestiges of their progressive days behind them, and it benefits the album and the listener. The songs are all extremely accessible as a result, and are easy to get into and enjoy.
Ronny’s vocals are the best that I’ve heard from him – much better than on the previous effort, and he’s developed an interesting vocal blend over the years that hints strongly of 1980s Ronnie James Dio, which is a good thing. The guitar work is riffy as hell – again, nothing extremely complicated, but it’ll have you banging your head up and down within the first few seconds and probably throwing out some air guitar shortly after that. The lyrics are pretty good as well, and they all tie into the dark themes of good and evil that the band chose for this release.
To sum – no, TAD MOROSE has not returned to their old style, but if you enjoy stripped back and riffed filled metal, you’ll enjoy this. I’m not entirely won back as a dedicated fan, but they’ve definitely gone a long way to making that a reality. Give St. Demonius a chance.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Where Ignorance Reigns”, “Bow to the Reaper’s Blade”, “The World Is Growing Old”, “Forlorn”