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Tantra - Holocausto CD (album) cover

HOLOCAUSTO

Tantra

 

Symphonic Prog

3.51 | 31 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nş 302

Tantra is a progressive rock band from Portugal. Together, two Lisbon musicians, the guitarist Manuel Cardoso and the keyboardist Armando Gama, established what would be the basic foundations of Tantra. According with their official site, the name of the group was chosen by Manuel Cardoso after his Raja Yoga meditation experiences and contact with the Indian culture. They were joined by two other musicians, the bassist Américo Luis and the drummer Tó Zé Almeida. Soon the band was established as the main rock progressive group, in Portugal. With this line up, Tantra released their debut studio album "Mistérios E Maravilhas", in 1977. After a while Armando Gama left the band and was replaced by their new keyboardist Pedro Luis. Finally, in 1979, Tantra was able to release their second studio album "Holocausto".

"Holocausto" was a very successful album for critics and fans and received the best record of the year award. With this album, Tantra is often compared with Ange, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso or Premiata Forneria Marconi. The impressive musical quality of "Holocausto" confirms this assessment. Tantra used the classic ingredients, like high vocal notes, sometimes reminiscent of Peter Gabriel, extensive instrumental excursions with many keyboard and complicated sounds, nice bass lines and driving drums. In addition, they added enough individuality to the sound of the Portuguese language with inspired lyrics, far Eastern influences and a little of jazz rock. The music is complex, yet it seems fluent, magical and dreamy. It's often reminiscent of Yes (vocals and guitar) and Genesis (keyboards), without copying them.

The line up on the album is Manuel Cardoso, aka "Frodo" (lead vocals, acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric guitars, Top Gear guitar synth and sitar), Pedro Luis (grand piano, Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, Mellotron, Polymoog and Minimoog), Américo Luis (bass guitar) and Tó Zé Almeida (drums, tubular bells, marimba, percussion and clarinet). The album had also the participation of Tony Moura (lead vocals and electric guitar) and Pedro Mestre (keyboards and chorus).

"Holocausto" has six tracks. The first track "Om" opens the album with two minutes' worth of tasty spacey synth textures. A superb full band section follows, with vocals briefly materializing three minutes in. The track experiences an abrupt shift at close to four minutes, bringing the uppity cadence to a complete halt. Juicy filter sweeps and somber piano carry the track for a bit before the other instruments gradually reenter the mix. The vocals of Moura prove to be rather good and he quickly makes up for his limited range. With less than a minute to go, Pedro Mestre fires off a volley of notes from his keyboard units, Moogs, Rhodes and Clavinet. This is a characteristic of the entire album. So, it wasn't a surprise that the band wanted him. In fact, they waited for Pedro Mestre to finish touring with his own band so he could join the album in progress. The second track is the title track "Holocausto". The track is divided into two parts, which goes through with more than 10 minutes of length, which is the lengthiest piece on the album. A cacophonic swell, punchy Moog bass, and Mellotron choir, courtesy of the guest Pedro Mestre of Petrus Castrus, kick off "Holocausto/Ultimo Raio Do Astro Rei". Pedro Mestre uses his Clavinet's distinctive attack to great effect for rhythm and soloing. The third track is the interlude "Zephirus". It's determined by a grooving bass and keyboard wall, over which the syllables Ze-Phy-Rus are repeatedly whispered. It's a wonderful piece with its wicked-sounding, wordless whispered vocals. Manuel Cardoso plays sitar on this track. The fourth track "Talismă" was treated with nice keyboard Moog work. The middle of this track even sounds a tad of fusion, but the band charges feet-first back into the symphonic mold on the extended outro. This is classic prog at the highest level. The fifth track "Ara" is a very beautiful piece with mellow and emotional vocals. Here, we have some of the best vocals on the all album, surprisingly. The electric guitar work and the up-tempo with a swinging Minimoog solo are great too. The sixth track "Ji" was dedicated to their mentor, a certain Guru, Maharaj Ji Kijai, as the name of the track indicates. This is another great track with some jazz rock feeling that features nice acoustic guitar and great keyboard work. It closes the album in a very nice way.

Conclusion: "Holocausto" is another great release of Tantra and represents another excellent showcase for this Portuguese progressive rock band. Friends of the classic prog can't go wrong with this album, which is more on the margins of the mainstream both temporally and locally. Musically, it's an absolute hit and the comparison with the great classics of Yes and Genesis doesn't spoil the album. Tantra with "Holocausto", as happened with their debut, don't fear with those comparisons, because their music, despite those influences, has a very own Portuguese feeling. One of the best qualities of "Holocausto" isn't just its cool and fairly murky 70's production, but the fact that the individual players don't get in each other's way. Alright, sometimes the keyboards overpower the guitars, but in general all the players have their role all over the album. It's also the closest that Tantra gets to he fusion prog. Just listen to it, for yourself.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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