Tarantula A.D. - Book of Sand Review
By Victor Valdivia
The idea of orchestral metal sounds too often like an unnecessary pretense. Metal depends first and foremost on pure energy, raw power and volume. Orchestral music is dependent on dynamics, complex song structures, and no lyrics. There have several groups (Queensryche, Savatage) who have attempted to merge the two, but too often what results is turgid, dull, and interminable.
Tarantula A.D. attempts the mixture, with a surprising amount of success. Most of the album, with a couple of exceptions, is instrumental, and incorporates a wide variety of sounds: Spanish music on "Palo Borracho", Radiohead-style theatrics on "Who Took Berlin (Part 1)", and '70s proto-ambient (like Brian Eno or Tangerine Dream) on "Riverpond". There's also a variety in the breadth and depth of the arrangements, from an extended solo piano piece, "The Lost Waltz", to the intricate, elaborate orchestral arrangements of "Conquest".
The album is apparently some sort of concept with a story. But since there are virtually no words, apart from some minor, inconsequential singing, it's easier simply to let the music create the pictures and imagery you wish. There are recurring movements, and themes that repeat, which may strike some as pretentious and bombastic in the extreme, but the quality of the musicianship and the beauty of several of the album's moments are enough to sound impressive without being overbearing. Ultimately, if you are not averse to truly unusual and experimental music, this is an album worth seeking out.
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