Thabu 'Reborn' Reviewed

Formed September 2004, Thabu offer a unique blend of progressive riffs, soaring vocals, with shades of melodic synths, creating a combination of power metal and progressive metal, sure to give your pulse a quickening and your ears a provocation. Hailing from Argentina, Thabu encountered problems early on, though their first e.p was received well, they encountered line-up issues, changing bassists twice and also replacing one of the founders of the band; ex vocalist Carlos Di Tirro due to musical and personal interests. With new front man James Robledo from Chile (ex Alternacia) the band launch into their second cd aptly titled, Reborn, which was released in 2012. The end result, something short of a work of art.

Exploding into the opening track A Game of Lies we’re introduced to the exceptional vocal range courtesy of Robledo, his clarity and influences pour through his singing, there’s touches of Dio, Mr Big and even a shade or two of ex Nevermore‘s Warrel Dane. The track itself has all the compositions to make a fantastic opener of an album, tasteful solo’s, running oscillations on the keys, quick flourishes of drums, and even some heavier darker roars

Reborn takes a more sinister approach to begin with, flashes of pure power metal drip through this track, pinches, vocal harmonies, and a couple of “Woooyeah!’s” Definitely one of their more melodic tracks on the album, and more structured then some of their other contributions. Where progression lacks, power metal reigns. Garcés is given plenty of room to show off his skill with a generous 40 second solo that ties in with the main melody seamlessly.

Fictionating The Present is a clear favourite on the album for me, it’s technicality shrouded in layers of progression and creativity, it begins with a trudging march from drums, bass, guitar and keys, a layered and technical start to the track, and around the minute mark, more deep guttural roars and a switch of tempo states that this track is flexing its progressive muscles rather intimidatingly. Shifting ever deeper, we’re given a mini breakdown early on, then offered a delightful respite of a pause- a breath – and the continuation from the rhythm introduced early on. I’ll admit the structure of this song had me in a flux for a while, there are plenty of changes from low to high, from fast to slow, it demands your attention but the chorus is the staple in the track that everyone can unite around. Towards the end of Fictionating The Present we’re given more searching wails, and a tranquil string section backed by a choir and echoing vocals, moments before Toba proves his worth with a slick bass line that’ll get the moshers head banging, all the way through Garcés final solo.

Thabu give themselves some space on the next track Beyond The End a much slower tempo, bucket loads more melody, and even Robledo‘s vocals don’t bother with the highest notes in his spectrum. It won’t start any mosh pits, but your missus might get a bit weak at the knees from the tender lyrics. There are hidden piano flourishes a cheeky acoustic guitar makes a brief appearance behind the not too impressive drum beat. By all means this is not a weak track on the album, just a different flavour from what we’ve heard before. The keys are heavy, the guitars more epic then fiddly. I can see this being a good penultimate track for a live show.

Theatre of Faith demands hands clapping at the beginning, the bass work pairs well with the machine-gun-like riff from the guitars, we’re introduced to sustained keys with a severely long decay. One of their more dynamic tracks with a great display of ranges, power metal singing, a flicker of Bruce Dickinson creeps through in-between darker shrieks and cries, giving Theatre of Faith multi dimensional layers. An exceptionally fast run of the bass scales made me smile halfway through, and Bulanikian‘s cymbal work gave much needed emphasis to make this track just the right shade of ballsy that’ll earn fan appreciation.

Remains of Reality is a psychedelic torture. There are elements of Sikth here, high pitch tandem guitar and bass work, the track truly lives up to its name, 100% progressive and instrumental, or rather just mental. The synth work reminds me a touch of Sky Sanctuary, but before your ears can grasp what’s going on, a drum solo apparently starts, then abruptly stops. Is this a technical masterpiece? An ego boost of expression? It’s making me question my remains of reality that’s for true, from mid riff stops, gaps, poly-rhythms, to a djent section, all in all it’s a cluster-fuck, but I love it. It’s bold, it’s structureless, damn impressive. It’s not even on Youtube it’s that good!

Leaving My Root a rhythm that appears to trip over itself welcomes the track in, but after the previous chaos it’s fairly simple to grasp where the head drops, thanks to a solid assist from Bulanikian on the drums. Though my ears did prick up at the 0:41 mark, it sounded like a note was missing. The lyrics are emphatic and full of passion, a little darker then the others on the album in my opinion, with a crunching groove throughout and a running theme of absence and loss lyrically. The solo around the 4:00 mark leaves a bit of a flat taste in ones mouth, it just doesn’t have the same gruff like the others, until the band steps up a gear and starts to get more heavy, this is what we wanted, a bit more balls and a bit more chaos! Saved at the end by the tempo switch, but from this angle not a favoured track on the album.

Hunting Sinners starts off in a game boy, then crashes out with big cymbal work, and threatening chugging guitars, the polished synths give a striking good contrast to the intro. Something that upset the track for me was the dual vocals, If you’re going to do dual vocals then learn from the masters – Sikth, overlapping may create the semblance of confusion and whatever metaphor you’re going for, but ultimately comes out clumsy and disorientating. Snapping off from vocals, the rest of the band crunch it out before 2 minutes hit, a spark of heavy thrashing that reignites passion for this track, just as you can begin to get into it we’re given another transition, which in my opinion is too spaced out. Recovering well with the instrumental section after, we’re treated to a more inspiring solo, and some impressive keyboard oscillations and a dervish of flurries on the drums. Moments like this you can feel the talent in this band, though a few ideas may be a touch muddled, there is a certain beauty in the off beat rhythms that can catch you out.

Violentango serves as the closing bracket for this album, after the inspired palette of different flavours we’ve been treated to, one could expect something grand for a finale, something epic, or something downright loony. Thabu went for a combination of all three, a fast tempo tango which sounds like it’s coming from an accordion, it gains it’s epic momentum around the three minute mark then ends. Leaving me a moment to ponder, did I just hear two instrumental tracks on an album? What happened to my brain during Remains of Reality? Most important of all did I enjoy this experience?

To summarise Reborn is a colossally good effort at a full length album, the band work well together and compliment one another’s instruments well, their sound is beautiful at moments, sporadic at next, and all with a sinister undercurrent of mad. There may still be a few teething problems, but they’ll mostly be worked out as the band progresses themselves, needless to say, Thabu are worth keeping an eye on, as they’ve certainly got a lot of boxes checked to be a brilliant quartet.

Review by James Allum