Tau Cross: Pillar of Fire
Tau Cross displays no intention of slowing down or conforming and delivers an alchemical work of crossover thrash and brainy post-punk with folk deviations.
Tau Cross is the meeting of two extreme music titans, in Rob “The Baron” Miller of Amebix and Michael “Away” Langevin of Voivod. Surrounding themselves with excellent musicians from bands like War//Plague, Misery, and Frustration, Tau Cross released its debut, self-titled album in 2015 giving us a taste of its sonic brew. Given the heritage of Miller and Langevin, one might expect a combination of the latter days Amebix with the dissonance and eccentricity of Voivod, but that is not what the band is about.
Tau Cross is the natural continuation of Amebix's final, excellent release Sonic Mass. The cover of Sonic Mass, displaying the tau cross symbol, confirms this lineage. Miller has taken the helm and turns Tau Cross into a rocking act that oozes of crust and punk rock ethos, alongside a heavy metal attitude. Without remaining static, confined in a specific genre, Tau Cross open up the range, accompanying the roaring Motorhead stench and Prong-ian edge with the post-punk spirit of Killing Joke and even New Model Army.
Pillar of Fire, the band's sophomore release, doubles down on the approach of the self-titled record. Why change something if it is working? Tau Cross goes into a heavy recital, approaching with energy and urgency, as in the opening “Raising Golem” and the maniacal “RFID”. And while a cliché of metal and heavy music, in general, might be the grim perspective and gimmick it takes on, Tau Cross create a record that is a fun and entertaining listen. Remaining unapologetic when it comes to their hooks, offering pure ear candy in the chorus of “Bread and Circuses” and the mesmerizing lead work at the end of “Seven Wheels”.
The album works as a narrative exactly because of their bravery in switching through different modes, crossing over genres and cherry picking whatever compliments their musical structures. In their thrashier moments they are seemingly chugging down petrol and unleashing all their fury, but they can also move into territories of epic proportions. Dropping down the pace, a more powerful and grand manifestation is presented, either in the form of an anthemic rock 'n' roll opus, as in “On the Water”, or the heavy, slow switches of “Deep State” and “A White Horse”. The underlying grit so essential for the style Tau Cross represents remains intact, no matter if the part is fast, slow, melodic or dissonant.
The most interesting addition however in Tau Cross is the folk dimension, highlighted through beautiful acoustic passages. Given that the themes of their album deals with themes of religion, mysticism and travels specifically to the 16th and 17th centuries, these darker sceneries brings them even more to life. Such an instance is the title track, with the deep voices narrating tales of loss of faith, forgetting one's values and the eventual demise of us all, with the story telling element taking over the spotlight. The self-titled album similarly featured such intricacies, but with Pillar of Fire the band appears more eager to experiment with them, exploring the spaces they introduce and build more cohesive arcs to the heavier parts, as in “The Big House”. They even expand their instrumentation to include a fantastic bagpipes performance from 16-year-old Scottish virtuoso Brighde Chaimbeul in the epic closer “What Is a Man”.
As was the case with Sonic Mass, so is the case with Pillar of Fire. Tau Cross is an act that combines the veteran experience and the youngster vitality. What comes across is that all five members enjoy greatly what they do. The decision not to deviate from the sound and approach of the previous record speaks of that, but they still reach further feeling a need to perfect their craft. And all of this energy shows. Every aspect of it, through every twist and turn of Pillar of Fire Tau Cross comes across with undiluted attitude and conviction, and that honesty to themselves and their sound is what really stays.