Saturday 27 April 2019

Tillian - 'Lotus Graveyard' Album Review

Tillian – Lotus Graveyard

Tillian is a female fronted prog-rock band from Tel-Aviv, Israel. Influenced by artists such as Kate Bush, Pain of Salvation and Ayreon, singer-songwriter Leah Marcu likes to set her stall very high when it comes to influences!! Their journey began in 2014 when Leah Marcu started writing and composing a solo album around the concept of alchemical transformations of the self (!?). She drew from her personal well as well as her background in psychology and mysticism. She explored a cycle of inner progressions; Love to pain; pain to beauty; beauty to spirit and spirit to love. I personally am not a great interpreter of lyrics, I just like to know if it makes me get excited and play air guitar etc.

Working with Orphaned Land and Amaseffer’s producer, Forrester Savell, the music began to crystalize into Tillian's debut album. It soon progressed into a band of 7. From a first listen, it may be a band, but it is all very much in the name of Leah Marcu.

Opener, ‘Reborn’ is almost out of the Opeth Damnation playbook! It  teases you with its opening salvo, the listener not certain of which way its going to go. Ill break it to you, its mellow, but not to the point of boring the arse off you. Almost immediately, you can tell is Leah’s show. She is surround by some consummate professionals, but its Leah who is up front and centre. It builds to a good guitar solo, where I wanted it to build into a much heavier and darker song. ‘Touched’ is a song of two halves, and it’s the latter half that pushes the (heavier) envelope a bit more. ‘Frozen Sun’ is more like it. Tillian go for it a lot more, with some powerful drumming pushing it along and a bit more ‘oomph’ from Marcu is definitely the way to go. The best song so far by a mile. (Or kilometer if you’re European). ‘I’m Too Close’ is cello driven in the first part, before expanding and busting out of her chrysalis.

‘Monster’s’ riff is straight out of the 80s, and once again, I am drawn to the powerful side of the personality. And with lyrics like ‘you really fucked me over’, you know you’re not expecting a ballad, but it segues into flamenco in the middle /latter section. ‘Moonlight Dancer’ is the first song that draws musically from their middle eastern roots. It sounds like a soundtrack song that would accompany a market scene or Kasbah. ‘Black Holes’ enter Myrath mode and really push the Middle Eastern sound. Again, you are unsure of where you are about to be led, but its nice not knowing. Its very theatrical, as if it were in a musical, and is part storytelling, anthemic, with a good chorus, and is very good. It’s a song that tells of a dance with an inner demon and the need to find hope through personal struggle; I don’t think it knows what it quite wants to be, but that’s part of the fun. It’s a song that deserves multiple listens. ‘Caught In Your Slough’ is a strange title and lets leave it at that. An intro effectively to ‘The Beggar’, a song that has a lot of emotion to it. Marcu certainly knows how to put herself across.

‘Love or Heaven’ sees Tillian go for the jugular, with some dark vocals underlying Marcu’s. It’s the big song on ‘Lotus Graveyard’ time-wise and musically, bordering of death metal almost. Its this direction in particular I would like to see (and hear) Marcu explore in future. Not the grunting, just the sheer heaviness of it. ‘Finally we are onto ‘Earth Walker’, cello and piano driven, and is here they go all Kate Bush on you. Its eerie, haunting, and equally lovely. It’s a good way to end the album.

Leah certainly works it all to her strengths. She is a good songwriter and decent singer. I wanted her to push herself a bit more and take it up a notch, if it is possible for her to do so? That said, I was very satisfied come the end of the album.

Some of ‘Lotus Graveyard’ can be a bit all over the place. It’s not a criticism, I just think its Marcu trying to find her feet and find a direction. The clue was in the influences at the beginning of the review. Expect the unexpected if you draw from Bush, Gildenlow and Lucassen!!!

It’s a very decent debut from a very accomplished woman. Personally I preferred the heavier side on songs like Frozen Sun, Monster, Black Holes, and Love Or Heaven. Although the downright passion of Earth Walker, was spellbinding. There’s certainly a lot of  style and substance, and a lot to take in here.

27 out of  33 1/3  or 8/10!

Tillian are

Leah Marcu – Lead Vocals
Alexandra Marcu – Cello & Vocals
Inbal Rosenhouse – Keyboard & Vocals
Opher Vishnia – Guitar & Vocals
Yaron Gilad – Guitar
Alon Shulman – Bass & Vocals
Gil Idan – Drums

Frozen Sun
I’m Too Close
Moonlight Dancer
Black Holes
Caught In Your Slough
The Beggar
Love Or heaven
Earth Walker

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