Some albums come out of Left-field and leave you breathless. For me Taint’s debut ‘The Ruin Of Nova Roma’ was such an album, an angular swaggering record full of attitude that bordered on furious noise and spaced out prog and remained on the stereo for a frankly obscene amount of time and would drive the ex-wife screaming from the room: Come to think of it, it could have come complete with the warning: ‘Taint – May Cause Divorce’, but never the less it would be fair to say the second album was highly anticipated in my slightly depleted household.
Produced by Alex Newport (of Fudge Tunnel and Nailbomb fame), ‘Secrets And Lies’ sounds huge – much more polished and refined than the previous release without making it sound buried under a mountain of studio trickery, it is warm and gives every instrument it’s own space, meaning the drums crash, the guitars buzz and the bass rumbles distinctly instead of being buried. Jimbob’s vocals are another much improved aspect of this album, adopting a slightly different approach and style more to help bring more variety to the bands arsenal. The extent of the noise being made is mesmerising considering the band are a three piece.
Sound wise ‘Secrets And Lies’ follows on from the blueprint laid down in the debut, part stoner, part prog and part art rock noise, comparisons can be made with early Clutch, Neurosis, Mastodon and Led Zeppelin, often within the same track. The band veer from the explosive almost punk snarl of opener ‘Hex Breaker’ to epic sludge on album highlights ‘What The Crow Saw’ and ‘Goddam This City’. The Welsh trio really know how to create a groove and you’ll find yourself nodding along subconsciously and loosing yourself in a particular passage only to marvel as the band effortlessly switch and take the song off into other realms.
If this sounds too good to be true it’s probably because it is. The same elements that create the album highlights also hamstring the band at times. In an effort to create this expansive, complex sound you often find yourself struggling to remember what has gone before the piece you are listening to at the moment. This is a collection of songs that not only demands, but requires prolonged exposure before you even begin to get a handle on the scope of what’s going on. The album is very much in two parts; the first half aggressive and intense like a complicated High On Fire, the second at times blissed out and grandiose with even a flute being thrown in for good measure over meandering bluesy, seventies flavoured jams.
This is by no means a bad record, containing some fantastic pieces of music, excellent musicianship and incredible song writing craft, but at times you feel that in an effort to push themselves forward they have done a little too much and cannot decide if they want to go in one direction, but feel they owe a debt to some of their previous form. If you take nothing from this release other than ‘What The Crow Saw’ and ‘Goddam This City’ Taint would be your new favourite band, however over the course of Secrets And Lies they are always impressive, but the impact lost due to the uneven nature of the release.
That said this is a relatively young band who clearly boast skill and a vision beyond the often bland nature of many artists that will achieve so much more, and as such have a bright future, if they can focus on their strengths for the next album they will blow your mind.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden