Album Review: Tantric | Mercury Retrograde
The seasoned rock group, Tantric is at it again with another bonafide release that long time fans and newer fans can seamlessly stick their teeth into. Spearheaded by lead vocalist, Hugo Ferreira, Tantric’s latest record, “Mercury Retrograde” is exactly what you’d expect from a group with close to two decades of hard rock experience. It seems their label, Pavement Entertainment has created quite the environment for the American rock band to let their creativity run freely allowing for a project of this caliber to be released. There are very few things I can find disappointing about the record as a whole, but let’s take a closer look so we can give our #IntoThePit community a full written experience of the project.
Let’s Dive In!
From the down beat of the first track, “Angry”, you can immediately hear the heavy driving force of Tantric’s seasoned instrumentalist. The moment Hugo’s voice begins the first verse, it becomes apparent that this record wasn’t done in someone’s garage. There was some serious TLC taken into account with the production of the project. High caliber riffs, soulful acoustic rhythms, electrifying drum cadences as well as talented vocal performances are laced throughout the record. Between a soaring main vocal and tantalizing harmonies, Hugo’s vocal production at times are in my opinion, “Out of this world”. Very fitting for the title of this project. I’d consider his tone, range, and raspiness a love child of a less watered down Chad Kroeger (Nickleback) and a cross of Jonathan Davis (Korn). The diversity of melodies from track to track do a superb job at catching my attention and just about every chorus on the project is catchy enough to get stuck in your head. I’m unaware of the individuals fully behind producing this record, but it seems they definitely had a well trained ear to get the musical elements to mesh together as well as they did. Because of this, the live performances will resonate well with crowds interested in the genre, and possibly some who aren’t.
Production Score: 4.3/5
Into The Mix:
The mixing engineer(s) on Mercury Retrograde definitely had their work cut out for them. A few songs had some non traditional elements in them, but just about every track had an incredibly full arrangement of the ideal hard rock arsenal. From my experience, it seems records of this genre place a lot of importance on the clarity of the vocals and the fullness of the strummed instrumentation. Hugo Ferreira’s main and backing vocals were up front, present, and cutting through while all supporting instruments were heard but not incredibly over bearing. Lead, supporting, and bass guitars sound ideal in their leveling and stereo placement outside of some debatable riffs that pop out a couple times in the project. Drums were mixed to be full and punchy which is a combination of great micing and compression techniques. Again, only a couple elements here in there would poke out to my ear personally, probably unnoticeable to the average fan air drumming to the album on their way to work. The only thing I can confidently say I wasn’t a fan of was the telephone effect used in the third song “Get Em All”. The best way to describe it would be a little too thin, dry, and centered for my taste. An effect of that style sounds better widened out with slightly more reverb to provide more energy behind the effect. Outside of that the track and the overall project was well mixed and definitely had it’s own atmosphere! (No title pun intended)
Mix Score. 3.9/5
A Mastered Experience:
Having been on both ends of the mastering process, there’s one thing that I look for when critiquing a mastered record or project..
Can I listen to this project from top to bottom and it sound cohesive all the way through?
Mercury Retrograde is a record I can confidently call cohesive. It of course starts with a great performance by the vocalist and instrumentalist. All elements are then placed in the same universe with a great mix by the mixing engineer. Once mixes are completed, the mastering engineer can have his way and truly make each song sound like they belong together. The sound spectrum resonates equally in my ears throughout each track regardless of each song’s production. I have to attribute some of the punchy drums to the mastering engineer as well but when it come’s down to it, the whole project has a solidified punch and sub woofers are sure to agree with that statement. Great job Mr. Mastering Engineer on making the project sound like a top shelf project. Again, it’s obvious this was not done out of someone’s garage or guest bedroom studio.
Master Score: 4.6/5
Tantric definitely did the damn thing on this project. Their versatility and seasoned skills are showcased eloquently on this latest release. After listening to some of their older projects, Mercury Retrograde is in my opinion a step forward for the group while not branching too far from their illustrious roots which should sit well with their current fan base. The quality of the album and the catchy songwriting will grasp new fans to eagerly embark on the listening journey. All in all, Tantric and Pavement Entertainment can be proud of this release, and I look forward to tracking it’s movement in the coming days.
Into The Pit Score: 4.3/5