TarthariA - _Bleeding for the Devil_
(Phantom Pain, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (7 out of 10)
This mixed bag of heavy metal aesthetics is not without a certain charm. A commendable effort has been invested in releasing such a gorgeous 12" vinyl recording, not only in terms of visuals, format and packaging, but also in the sound department. The Estonian label Phantom Pain Records claims the vinyl has undergone a special mastering that rendered the sound quality adequate for audiophiles. Not sure what this even means (as if we, the non-audiophiles, deserve any less in terms of sound quality), and I don't even know what, in the process of mastering the recording, was done in order for it to sound exceptionally better (or if it's even possible in the mastering stage of an album), but if the truth be told this vinyl sounds pretty tight even on a regular stereo system. The sound is well rounded, grand and deep yet not muffled; all the details are accentuated well enough, even the smallest ones are highlighted and well balanced; the production sounds punchy and vigor and very much what a good metal record should sound like when played on a turntable.

Russian band TarthariA -- comprised of numerous session musicians revolving a core of full-time band members -- could have been remembered, had it not ventured off across too many musical turfs, and instead were focusing on what they do best: delivering energetic, dynamic, industrially-inclined, semi-futuristic death metal tour-de-force, like say, The Project Hate MCMXCIX or Tristwood. If you consider the groovy parts and the high-energy rhythm sections, then TarthariA would remind you occasionally sort of an Eastern European version of latter-day Gorefest, with a taste for occasional soft female vocals and keyboards that work well together in the context of this recording.

These are indeed the best moments of _Bleeding for the Devil_; the band can write some spellbinding theatrical songs, and their handling of the orchestral arrangements, as well as the electronica / synthesizers equipment and technology, is of the highest level. The problems begin to bud when the band decide to venture into other realms of music (intentionally and consciously or otherwise isn't important) like hardcore, post-metal and post-rock, shaking the very foundations of their very persuasive technology-permeated type of death metal by unevenness caused by fluctuations in the quality of their art, veering off, from time to time, from what they do best and going instead into territories where they are executing their weaker points, and thus exposing their weaknesses.

The goofy clear singing and other inadequate vocal styles on the recording you may find totally redundant, whereas their main growler is a fine vocalist, his performance as such is complementing the music better then any other vocal approach tried on the recording. Another pitfall would probably be the assertion of the fact the band adore, for some unknown reason, groove-laden power metal of the Pantera or Meshuggah type, which is, both in itself and in the context of the whole album, a big downer; a poke in the eye of good music. On those (thankfully) sparse moments, TarthariA sound like a not-very-appealing sort of hardcore / post-metal group playing kind of metallic mishmash that is an ear-sore, so to speak, when compared to the excellent industrialized / techno death metal in which the band excel.

As a whole, however, _Bleeding for the Devil_ is a rewarding listen for its aforementioned merits. Arguably, there aren't many good industrial death metal bands out there who bind together technology and death metal in a strong, seamless bond like the one TarthariA exercise on this album, being their fourth full-length studio recording. The downsides are quite few and those are easily devoured by the extreme metallic display, embodied by robust songs, schizophrenic tempos and a set of synthesizers that seem to always appear in the right place and time throughout the recording.

Fans of the aforementioned bands, or those who even like what V:28 and Empire of the Scourged are doing -- that is to say combine atmosphere, keyboards, melody, brutality and technology into one whole musical product with a heightened sense of melody -- are bound to enjoy most of _Bleeding for the Devil_'s 35 minutes.


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