September 5, 2007 | , | 3

Tulus, Biography Obscene

Norwegian metallers Tulus have released their first English penned and performed album in Biography Obscene. The band’s not-so-blackened black metal has a flare for the dramatic and experimentation — incorporating cleanly sung female vocals, piano, horn arrangements and strings into their sound. While there are instances that stand out on this album, for the most part, the experimentation falls flat.

There are portions on this disc that are delivered as any good black metal should be — cold, rotting and demonically. Then there are moments, particularly where the band experiments with the additional instrumentation, that feel unfinished and hurried. The musicianship is excellent, the production is pretty good, but the disc’s overall sound is rather lack luster for me to fully enjoy. It feels as though a good bit of untapped potential is being held back. Perhaps that’s the rust from not having put out an album together since 1999’s Evil 1999.

The opening track is really a bit more than just a prelude. After fading in some strings and acoustic guitar, Tulus open up with some dark riffs and thick drumming. Throughout the album is crusty and beefy bass. I really like the drum work on this one, but the female vocals completely ruin this track for me — it just doesn’t fit.

Natal Day
Some interesting guitar work starts “Natal Day” with crunchy bass, piano and well constructed drumming. Again, the experimentation is nice, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel cohesive. The lead vocals on this one are pretty damned evil and the solo at the 2:29 mark is freaking insane. Softly played piano end one of the stronger tracks on the album.

Stories Untold
A bit of an eerie string arrangement opens up the third track, but is quickly swallowed by driving drums and riffs. The pummeling metal is swapped with more string arrangements throughout the song.

“Victim” has got the most groove flowing than any other song on the album. It’s a bit slower, but quite infectious. It ends furiously with some beefy riffs.

Chamber’s Disgust
This one has some of the quicker paced material that Tulus performs on this latest release. There’s a bit of a reprieve with some piano before the band bludgeons you with thundering riffs and drums. Another sick solo quickly ends “Chamber’s Disgust.”

Allow No Light
There’s a bit of a stoner/doom feel to the start of this one. It’s much slower and incorporates a good bit of string work to it before opening the doors of chaos.

Morbid Curiosity
This one has a more calculated feel to it with well thought out drumming and perfectly timed riffs and hooks. “Morbid Curiosity” is probably the most complete song on the album.

“Demise” starts off with some grooving riffs and drum work that’ll have your bloodied head banging in no time. We hear the horn arrangement for the first time on this one and all I can think of is late 70’s Blaxploitation films like Shaft or Dolemite.

Biography Obscene
The title track starts out slowly with a pretty sick riff and slowly delivered lead vocals. It’s got a great vibe to it, but again is ruined with the female vocals — they are just horrible on this song. More horns accompany some well timed blasts of guitar and drums.

Torches Quenched
The final song on Biography Obscene starts off slowly with some dark, dungeon quality organ work before the band get going with some quality riffs and driving drums. There are a couple of great solos in the second half of this one.

~ ~ ~

Any band with enough of a cult following will surely sell records. And I have a feeling that Tulus have enough of a fan base that will enjoy this album. For me, however, it just doesn’t work. My opinion aside, the album has it’s moments with well timed tempo changes and ear shredding solos.

Favorite Tracks:
Natal Day
Morbid Curiosity

Additional Notes: