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The Tea Party - Triptych CD (album) cover


The Tea Party

Crossover Prog

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4 stars In retrospect Triptych may not quite garner the amount of reverence as The Tea Party's earlier efforts, but back in 1999 it was the band's biggest hit to date and Heaven Coming Down was a radio staple. Unlike the three previous albums, Triptych doesn't identify itself with one overall musical impression. Splendor Solis had the 70s rock, Edges Of Twilight incorporated more world influences into its rock sound, and Transmission went for the industrial goth alternative approach. With this album, the band incorporates various aspects of their previous efforts into a warmer and more approachable sound, certainly more so than the moody (and eventually tiring) Transmission, with successful results and a few gems in the mix as well.

The album starts off with a heavy 'crossover prog' sound, real fuzzy guitar tone over interesting drum patterns, Jeff's brooding vocals and a mellotron shows up for the chorus (gotta have a mellotron!). The album won't remain heavy, in fact it's probably the band's 'softest' release, which is actually still pretty loud compared to other rock acts. This album also does not ditch the Eastern instrumentation and musical excursions, particularly on the heavy and excellent The Halcyon Days. A few songs such as the opener and A Slight Attack could have easily felt right at home on Transmission, some towards the latter half of the album The Tea Party were clearly going for a more vibrant sweeping sound that added an entirely new dimension for the band.

Taking Me Away is quite a number. Jeff's vocals here are magnificent, showing improvement in range and technique from his earlier Jim Morrison impressions (not that his singing back then was by any stretch of the imagination, bad) and his delivery is strong and emotional. The drumming is jazzy, and the overall lushness of the track gives the song a naturally soaring sensation. Brilliant. The two follow up songs are great (if not as amazing) as well, bolstered by epic choruses and a genuine passionate delivery.

I've heard that Jeff himself doesn't look back too fondly concerning Heaven Coming Down these days despite its success; it did seem like a rather simple and radio friendly number, but I must admit that overriding guitar melody is undeniably gorgeous...and besides, the lyrics are pretty "Aleister Crowley-esque", which is pretty cool. The Messenger was another well known song for the band, a folksy cover that's also simple yet well composed.

Luckily, those looking for progressive elements in the band's sound here will still find songs such as Great Big Lie and Samsara completely suited to their needs. There's a lot of variation to this effort as well, more so than on previous affairs, while retaining that Tea Party vibe of Eastern influences, a little industrial edge, a chock full of 70s attitude, and some earnest alternative sensibilities. One of the band's highpoints as far as I'm concerned.

Report this review (#440291)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars It happens to almost every band eventually. Their repertoire gets large enough that their new songs begin to sound derivative of their old songs. THE TEA PARTY have consciously worked to avoid this since the beginning of their career, but I'm afraid on this album they do not succeed.

'Triptych' is a reasonable album. Musically competent, full of excellent melodies. What it's missing, however, is heart. The songs sound like inferior copies of what's gone before. The #1 Canadian single, 'Heaven's Coming Down', is stripped back soft rock... dare I mention a band called NICKELBACK? This is an abrogation of what makes the band great. This song succeeds only because the passion has been torn out of it. Rock by numbers. MARTIN's great voice is wasted here - in fact, it sounds incongruous, more like TOM JONES than JIM MORRISON. Songs like 'Underground' and 'The Messenger' drift past on a cloud of their own inconsequence. Others ('Samsara', as you'd guess from the title, and 'Halcyon Days') reference the glorious 'The Edges of Twilight' but those days appear to have gone. There's nothing exotic here, nothing searing, nothing propulsive. It's telling that many of the songs fade out. As does the album.

Again I must emphasise that this is not a poor album. But I would genuinely choose to listen to 'Transmission' twice in a row than follow it with this one.

Report this review (#1281862)
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | Review Permalink

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