An earthy conviction and energy in the approach

The Australian metal scene has thrown up some brilliant releases in 2011, with at least a half dozen or so jostling for position among the top 20 albums I’ve heard this year.

As much as it pains me to say it, Taberah’s The Light of Which I Dream is not going to be one of those. As the follow-up to their live-in-one-take EP “Live… ish” from 09, this presents them as much as the talented and enthusiastic young band they were then but doesn’t really display any development. One of the criticisms I had of the EP was the cheesiness of some of the lyrics, and as it turns out, this is one of the major obstacles I’m still faced with when assessing this album.

Musically the band has it all down pat, with an ability to craft catchy power metal songs and there’s an earthy conviction and energy in their approach that can’t be denied. While they do err on the side of convention and cliche, the playing is solid and guests like producer/Psycroptic guitarist Joe Haley and the guys from LORD drop in to add some spice to the proceedings (check out the insane face-melting stuff the latter pair pull off in “Freedom or Death”). The big problem is that The Light of Which I Dream has some of the cheesiest metal moments I’ve heard in ages.

While almost any song could be accused of this — the evil laugh in “The Call of Evil”, the lame cry of “Chaaaarge!” in “Freedom or Death”– by far the worst offender is “Fearless”, a song about Rambo. It’s as corny as it sounds, but the final chorus into the fade where the band starts chanting “Rambo!” while Johnathon Barwick sings “Don’t fuck with me, I’m Rambo!” made me shake my head almost as much as that stupid song about Destructos that Morbid Angel put out earlier this year.  After that, it was just too difficult to take Taberah completely seriously, even moreso after the cringe-worthy acoustic piece “The Ballad of Ruby Joy”.

Unfortunately, as much as Taberah do so much right musically, in the end the singing is what really lets them down. A medieval motif in the title cut works up to a Maiden-style gallop accentuated by a melodic guitar line and there’s some neat cross-fire soloing from Barwick and Haley, but the track is let down by weak vocals. Barwick has a decent if unspectacular melodic metal voice but he lacks any real power in his delivery. He also seems reluctant to test his range and tends to sings every song the same. It’s a shame too, because beefier vocals and a more mature lyrical approach (and perhaps some tweaking of the artwork) would be all that’s needed to lift this above the ordinary.

1. The Descent
2. Brothers of the Fire
3. The Call of Evil
4. Fearless
5. Stormchild
6. The Ballad of Ruby Joy
7. The Light of Which I Dream
8. Freedom or Death
9. Requiem of the Damned
10. The Reaper