Tungsten – The Reservoir
Tungsten – The Reservoir (2013)
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
A wolf on the cover and a female singer on the record – is it even fair for me to review this? Actually, hold up – despite my somewhat well known and often-derided hatred for female-fronted metal, and a team effort between oversized T-shirt makers and Sonata Arctica to jump a wolf over a shark, Tungsten worked its way around the landmines that I typically associate with bands trying to put a pair of breasts in front of a camera to sell more records. No, against my expectations, vocalist Titi Musicck liberates a small chunk of female fronted metal from the far overdone depths of “gothic” mediocrity. Tungsten is a progressive metal band before anything else, and a promising one at that.
This band is, much to my gratitude, progressive metal with a wide pedigree of influences from Iron Maiden to Opeth. Are they at the level to be compared to those bands? No, certainly not, but stylistically, it’s a pretty cool mix. Imagine the atmosphere of Opeth presented in a more traditional metal context, and sufficiently loaded with strong melodies, all fronted by a female singer that’s drawing more on 70’s hard rock than the army of 90;s chicks who were mad they couldn’t sing on the Titanic soundtrack.
In terms of production quality, maturity of songwriting, and overall performance, I was shocked to discover that this was only Tungsten’s debut, as this is a tight sounding record for sure. Expect intricate songwriting with great riffs and vocal hooks aplenty. While the prog nerd in me is satisfied with the compositions, the rest of D might just be content to listen to some really enjoyable songs. Standout tracks include the up-tempo “El Dolor” and the Opeth-inspired “Night Wanders By”.
As far as drawbacks go, I feel that for as accomplished as this album is, it’s lacking a strong selling point. Everything works well, but I can’t point to any aspects that really stand out. The same goes for songs: there’s pretty good consistency, but that consistency is of songs that are listenable. I complimented Titi Musick’s style at the beginning of the review, but her voice does lack some power, noticeable during certain songs. This comes with the disclaimer that I’m notoriously picky with female singers, and like almost none of them. Stylewise, I’m impressed by Tungsten as a whole, but there’s still points where I’m not entirely sold.
Still, as an old school prog nerd, I’m pleased with what Tungsten has to offer. The keyboards are great, and prog is nothing without them. I feel comfortable recommending this to Black Wind’s prog audience, as well as fans of the aforementioned influences (Iron Maiden, Opeth, and 70s progressive and hard rock). It’s a good deal stronger than a lot of first offerings from progressive metal bands. If this record is any indicator, Tungsten’s got a bright future ahead.
3.5 // 5