Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alhana ~ Tundertanc

(Click on heading for official website.)
Style: symphonic metal, Hungarian, power metal
Label: self-released
Year: 2005
Home: Budapest, Hungary (disbanded)

Members: Balazs Bessenyei, Peter Pihokker ~ guitars
Zsuszi Parej ~ vocals
Andras Siegl ~ bass
Zoltan Siegl ~ drums

Additional: Marton Kovacs ~ guitar
Tamas Hidvegi ~ keyboards

Alhana previously released three demo EPs, five of the eleven tracks here carried over from those EPs (i.e. "Magus", "Csillagszello", "Alomvilag", "A Zafir Egen Tul", "Az Utolso Bard"), but for the most part their first & only full length only sounds like cliched symphonic rock but just done in Hungarian. If they were looking for commercial success on the world-wide scale of Hungarian metalheads Tundertanc has some potential as it certainly fits the mold, for non-Hungarian speakers the language can be a bit rough to digest lacking softer tones, but in terms of individuality Alhana wasn't doing anything particularly interesting or individual & they fit the mold too much. But, this is an improvement over the demos as the multiple songs allow them to develop out their sound more & get some of that much needed individuality. The demos are even more imitative sounding.Sadly, the result is probably not enough for producers' ears as Alhana would split up in 2009 never getting any major label release nor going into the studio again to see where they could go next. Formed in 2002 with three members from the band Tuzmadar, who continues to record & perform, Alhana is interesting if for no other reason than to see the imitative quality of foreign bands by a group of musicians looking to do their own thing. It also shows how a band has a lot of ideas & really just needs a helping hand to strengthen & tighten it up. The least interesting & non-workable part of the band is the imitation, here being the guitars. They thrash away rhythmically & boringly. Underneath them is a drummer going to town on the double bass drum attempting to boost up a very non-heavy rhythm section. Perhaps its the production but there's no low-end here & thus the drummer seems to be carried away in the moment with his own song while the rest of the band is either floating or riffing. Too much powers & the guitars aren't doing anything to compliment it. Riffing does not always make magic. Also being a weak feature is the female lead singer singing in the cliched style of unenthused quasi-operatic metal. It's not that her voice is bad, very much not so, but she doesn't have a tone that makes her sound any different than her English peers. Actually, there is much more inflection in her voice & a bit of a range that goes from higher notes, though not so many, to a whisper (i.e. "Kisertet") that is quite interesting at times. In another band she'd find a better fit where she could be a stronger presence. Or, at least, in another band the music might be pushing her up & giving her something interesting instead of sounding like they are limiting her. What does work & gives everything an extra splash is the heavy use of the keyboards, who even take solos before the guitars, that float back & forth from the background to the lead. It's not just the droning symphonic synthesiser but much more a prog-metal approach where they might be the most important instrument in terms of carrying the music forward through an array of sounds (for example, "Elj Ugy", "A Zafir Egen Tul"). The keyboardsare the main feature that actually reflects the title Tundertanc which means fairy dance. The keyboards dance delightfully across the album. It's just ashame they have to carry the album. The good songs show a band trying to move symphonic metal forward with their own personality, but the problem is not all the members of the band are moving forward at the same time. There is some glimmering moments. "Szamuzott Angyal" has a lovely dual acoustic guitar opening calling up folk songs but it's anti-climactic with the thrashing guitars following killing everything. If they'd kept the guitars throughout the result would have been stronger. The only thing that continues to sound folk-like is the keyboard marking out the chord changes & the melody line & taking the main solo. This problem is solved by "Az Utolso Bard" & the very gentle un-metal "Kisertet" that copy the acoustic opening & keeps it going through the the song, but sadly now it sounds imitative next to the earlier lackluster moment.




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