American prog metal outfit Tanagra released their first album None of This Is Real in 2015, and have since been brooding and building their next one. Meridiem makes for a poetic venture through a musical direction unanticipated from an American outfit. Tanagra’s style lends both from traditional heavy metal stylistics, as well as contemporary prog and power metal, landing somewhere in a melodic progpower setting with trudging rhythms, dominating guitar leads set with atmosphere building keyboards. Meridiem is slightly overlong, clocking in at over an hour, and repeated listens will seem daunting. It is hard to fault Tanagra though, as the songs have a very even quality, and even the lengthy ones have justified runtimes, with closing track Witness clocking in at over 14 minutes.
The style is adventurous and the soundscape atmospheric. The heavy focus on dominating melodic play is unlike many American counterparts. American progpower outfits usually rather focus on groovy riffing and meaty rhythm sections. That’s not to say there is no weight to the riffing or the rhythm department, which have plenty of time to air out and show the resounding skills put in. It just means focus is rather laid on the atmospheric side of things. Acoustic guitars and soft parts are interwoven with the epic solos and mid paced melodic soaring of the atmospheric keys and flowing vocal lines. It’s all very clean however, the guitar tone very neat and polished, leaving little in the ways of aggressive elements or any grittiness. That said, the music is not devoid of attitude; fast, blazing moments like those intermingled in The Helping Hand or found throughout the more fast paced Across the Ancient Desert are what make the mid paced, atmospheric touch of the album work that much better.
Production wise the album could have benefited from more depth, especially to the vocals. Tom Socia does prove to handle some delicate moments with a sort of laid back sense of direction. His style isn’t as big and pompous as might be expected on an album of this style, but what might first be construed as disinterest proves with multiple listens to be rather a yield to the atmospheric elements of the music, and the melodic instrumentals which he follows rather than leads. Jake Rogers (Visigoth) makes a guest appearance on Across the Ancient Desert, and the dual vocals make the song stand out, complete with the flourishing lead guitars and fast paced rhythms, making the song an album highlight and a must hear. Perhaps the album sounds bigger than it actually is, but fact remains all throughout no expenses have been spared to make Meridiem an enchanting, eclectic and adventurous listen, and at that Tanagra have certainly succeeded; rain fears no fire.
Standout tracks: Meridiem, Across the Ancient Desert, Witness