Tragik – ‘Tainted’ (Rock Company) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 04:00

Tragik Tainted front500They say that you shouldn’t judge a book, or an album, by its cover. But, in the case of this particular offering, it is very hard not to do so. I mean, take a look at the fucking thing. Ripped straight from the tackiest Eighties playbook of gratuitous titillation, advertising some Z-rated softporn straight to video sexploitation flick, with scantily clad females posing provocatively from every panel and page of the CD’s packaging… The sort of stuff that deserves to be buried in the past from which this cheap thrill-seeking montage has been resurrected, and tainting the opus right from the moment it is emptied from the envelope which delivered it.


Which is a real shame, as what is actually contained behind all the busts and bums is a half decent, if somewhat erratic, AOR album. The band itself seems to the brainchild of the much-respected and extremely hard-working Phil Vincent, who writes all the songs (except for a co-writing credit on closer ‘Harsh Reality’) as well as playing lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards, bass and drums throughout, abetted by guitarist Damian D’Ercole and drummer Dirk Phillips.


Opener ‘Welcome Back’ gets things off to a solid start, and one very firmly rooted in the Eighties, with the parping keys poking through the crunching riff, and it has a swingable groove to it. However, the album’s problems soon start to push their way to the surface, as the synthesizer-led ‘Not Over You (Listen)’ quickly halts the momentum, with its Styx-ian squidginess and, despite a couple of neat guitar solos in the second half, at almost nine-and-a-half minutes, outstays its welcome less than halfway through. ‘Can’t Take It Back’ lives up to its title: it has an initial thump to it, but there is something lacking, as it loses its way in the second quarter before another neat solo rescues things slightly. I think it’s the twee, effects-laden vocal harmonies that do it in for me…


‘Into The Great Unknown’ is another parping-synth led pop number, which just lacks sufficient punch and is the sort of lightweight ear candy that clutters up the soundtracks of teenybop movies from three decades ago, and again had me watching the stereo countback to see how much longer it had to go… ‘Face Of Sorrow’, on the other hand, is much more promising, kicking off with a stabbing main riff and featuring a rich vocal from Vincent: again, the treated backing vocals are a bit distracting but overall this is one of the album’s stronger tracks. As is ‘Out Of Nowhere’, which is, quite frankly, superb: built on an almost growling melody, it is lush and atmospheric, with beautiful layers of harmony and great use of light and shade… hell, even those vocal harmonies work a treat on this one! Now, if only the whole album could have been like this…



Unfortunately, the momentum built up by the previous two tracks is lost as, despite a highly promising intro section, ‘Til I See You Again’ is another disappointing Eighties soundtrack throwback, saved only by another highly competent guitar solo, while ‘Nobody’s There’ again initially promises much but fails to deliver on almost every level: the framework is there, but the execution fails to do it justice.


As the album heads into its final third, I find myself resisting the urge to hit the skip button, but then I would have had a few ‘Regrets’. The song of the same name sees them rock things up again, with a big, crunching guitar sound and a hook big enough to land a great white: we’ll just bypass the tweeness of the chorus, shall we? The title track is the most out-and-out rocker on the album, a pedal-to-the-metal joyride built on another crunching guitar theme and an acid-etched edge to its pacy delivery: hell, even those previously irritating vocal harmonies work on this occasion.


‘Heaven’ is another promising starter, it’s simple vocals-over-keys suggesting a majestic power ballad to come: but, while the power factor is increased, what follows is much more firmly footed in prog territory, with its layered vocals and extended guitar workout woven under the keyboard mix. Another of the album’s two “epics”, it does hold the danger of out-staying its welcome, but just about manages to retain aural attention throughout most of its eight-plus minutes. ‘Harsh Reality’ closes the album out with another crunching mid-paced rocker, with an impactful rhythm and a punchy delivery.


Overall, ‘Tainted’ lives up to its name. There are a handful of really good songs, and some superb musicianship, which both benefit from a pinpoint accurate production (again courtesy of Mr Vincent), but for all of this there is too much missing. Several of the songs are too long and drag on the ear, but once you get past that awful packaging there are a enough gems in here to make it a potentially worthwhile treasure hunt for collectors of AOR curiosities.


‘Tainted’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


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