REVIEW: TAINT’S SECRETS & LIES
If Clutch had listened to a few more Neurosis albums in their day they probably would’ve ended up sounding something like Taint. The South Wales three-piece have just released their second full-length Secrets & Lies on Candlelight Records, and though fellow UK tour-mates Clutch might be a good starting reference to describe their furious approach, Taint are considerably more informed by punk and prog influences. Secrets & Lies ends up a slightly uneven effort, though it has plenty of potential and excellent moments making for a decent record.
The album is seemingly divided into two halves; Southern-influenced, blues-rock, fist-pumping riff-fests that artfully weave from one time-signature to the next dominate the first half of the record, while progged-out stoner jams makeup the better portion of the second. The first half isn’t short in the awesome riff department, with the band belting out guitar hook after guitar hook underneath singer Jimbob’s monotonous Neil-Fallon-meets-Troy-Sanders bellow. The band offers up a pretty good, if not necessarily original, mix of sludge/doom and prog as on “Corpse of Love,” where they move easily between prog-metal riffs and sludged-out, bass-heavy rumbles.
But the second half of the record is where the band really shows what they’ve got. Album highlight “Goddamn This City” slows things down to Crowbar/Neurosis speed but doesn’t ditch the prog-flavored time-signature switching of their more upbeat material. The monster opening riff is epic, sludgy, crushing and beautiful at the same time… and four minutes in the song speeds up and kicks you in the face with the intensity of a Mastodon freakout. Though well enough executed, I kinda wish they’d kept it down-tempo for the duration of the song. “What the Crow Saw” is another crawler and another winner, with some flute leads thrown in for interesting flavor. Jimbob finally tries a different vocal approach which breaks up the monotony here. The guitar passage that begins album closer “Mass Appeal Sadness” is almost ’90s indie/alternative in feel, only the most brutal indie you’ve ever heard. There’s also a really long hidden track at the end (why do band’s still do this?) that’s an extended instrumental jam.
Bassist Chris West deserves a nod for his excellent playing on this album. Bass on metal albums these days is often buried pretty low in the mix, echoes the guitar lines exactly, or both. West’s bass playing avoids these trends by standing out in the mix and following its own muse, making for an interesting dynamic that adds an additional lively layer to the music.
Ultimately Secrets & Lies comes off a bit uneven, but there are plenty of rewarding songs. Taint’s slower moments suit them much better, and though the album is backloaded with such songs the intensity of the more aggressive material on the front of the disc should be commended too for its groove and musicianship. Secrets & Lies isn’t so much a great album as it is a showcase for the potentially great album Taint might write in the future.
(three out of five horns)