Tau Cross
Tau Cross

This was one of my most anticipated albums in some time; a supergroup comprised of Amebix’s Rob Miller, Michel Langevin (Away) from Voivod, Jon Misery from crust punk stawarts Misery, and Andy Lefton, from the devastatingly crushing War//Plague. I don’t know what I expected that to sound like, given how wonderfully eclectic Ambebix and Voivod both can be.  I was ready to give this album a listenwith no preconceived notions or expectations.

One thing that surprised me from the get-go, was this defied the stereotype of the “supergroup”. This wasn’t a group of famous musicians that sounds good on paper, but have the musical chemistry of oil on water. This is a cohesive unit, pulling in the same direction.

The band really are there to build a solid foundation for Miller’s vocals. a lot of stuff just chugs along typical Amebix style; clattering volleys of metallic shards that hammer lockstep with the drums one moment, then gallops heroically along Iron Maiden-style triplets the next.

This is a real mixed bag, with a lot going on here. Typically I wouldn’t do a track-by-track style review, but it’s not like there was a stylistic theme to give a general impression of.  So here goes.

“Lazarus” starts off with a big shitkicker industrial metal riff, reminisent of ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ era Ministry. Oscillating synths shift from left to right speaker, and postpunk/deathrock arpeggios add color, setting the tone of the subtle interplay between the two guitarists for the whole album.

“Fire in the Sky” is one of my favorite songs on the album, and would have made a better album opener than “Lazarus”. It hit so many nails right on the head, with it’s quirky little gothic by-way-of “Baba O’Riley” organ, and this wonderfully expansive opening riff that reminds me of “Possession” off of Danzig I. Miller’s vocal phrasing reminds me of Jaz Coleman at his most quirky and acerbic.

“Stonecracker” is just a up-tempo punky thrasher in the motorhead/celtic frost/sodom tradition. Delivers unlike anything else on the album for just being a straight-up asskicker. Enough said.

“Midsummer” – A didgeridoo opens the song, segueing into not so much a riff, but more like heavily strummed, generic grunge chords. My initial impression was this song sounds like Collective soul. Puke.

It picks up about halfway through with another shitkicker riff and oscillating keyboard part.  I would totally hate it, but for Miller’s vocals; like a lot of other things that would be suspect to my own personal tastes on this record, his vocal delivery more than compensates for it.

“Hangman’s Hyll” segues an atmospheric opening into a droney/Kyuss-esque riff, before shifting into the main motiff of this tune. Rob Miller sounds awesome on this, and thematically the closest thing we get to an Amebix song on the whole album. Very European, apocalyptic, and folky. A great example of how amazing Rob Miller is as a lyricist. Really, the showpiece of the whole album.

“We Control the Fear” is a martial, protest-folk-punk song that shapeshifts between symphonic bombast and accoustic, intimate sounds, like Roger Waters‘ masterful use of these same dynamics on The Wall.

“You People” is dark and nihilistic, the chord progression and tonal qualities remind me of Bruce Dickinson’s Chemical Wedding for some odd reason.

“Prison” is a juxtaposition of one of the heavier riffs on the album, with a very jubilant and optimistic sounding chorus, which contrasts a pretty cynical lyric, which was a very characteristic thing that Amebix often did.

“Sons of the Soul” is another song utilizing Roger Waters vocal phrasing and songwriting dynamics parts, then goes into this nasally, apocalyptic streetpreacher raving, with martial drums propelling it forward.

“The Lie” – very similar in style to “Midsummer”, with the 90s altrock/grunge vibe to it, but much more integrated. A better song by far.

“Our Day”- Another very British tune, more roger waters vocal phrasing in the quieter parts, dirgy in others- perfectly integrating the metal with the singer/songwriter stuff. It climaxes with a very typically Amebix metallic gallup, and probably the best display of Away’s tribal inflected drumming on the whole album.

“The Devil Knows His Own” is our folky, epic closer. Could have been on alternative rock radio in 1995. Probably Miller’s most powerful vocal performance on this whole thing. End credits.

Really, this album is more of a Rob Miller solo album, the sort of thing an artist does once they want to branch out and explore sounds outside their (and their fanbases) comfort zone. This album definitely took me outside of my own comfort zone several times, to be honest. It took me a solid month to decide if I even liked it. But having spent this much time with this release was an investment made that allowed me time to appreciate it’s multiple facets, and I see it being in steady rotation for me for the foreseeable future.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Timothy D White
July 10th, 2015

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