I’ve been a Tantric fan for what seems like forever. I confess that I haven’t heard the last couple albums, for whatever reason, but I decided to give the new record a shot. The album is called The Sum of All Things, and it releases on July 23rd through Cleopatra Records.
Tantric have a long and storied history. The band was originally formed by ex-Days of the New Members who recruited Hugo Ferreira on vocals. Hugo has been the only constant for Tantric, though, and is the only remaining original member. Personally, I’ve been listening since the band’s amazing self-titled debut in 2001, following them through several great records, such as The End Begins and Mind Control. I remember hearing 2013’s 37 Channels, but haven’t listened to their new stuff since then.
The band plays straightforward alternative rock. They’ve experimented somewhat over the years, especially on 2008’s The End Begins, but their sound has pretty much stayed the same. They have a heavier edge to them at times, especially on this new record, but the focus has always been Hugo’s unmistakable, endearingly gruff vocals. If my information is correct, the rest of the band includes Jaron Gulino on bass, Sebastian LaBar on guitar, and Jon Loree on drums.
Something I’ve always loved about Tantric is their ability to craft interesting, unique choruses. Sometimes the melodies threaten to run away out of our control, especially the first time listening. I think that charm still remains on The Sum of All Things, to some extent. I think the first single “Living Here Without You” is a good example. The rhythm, chorus, and overall feel of the track are all really good and instantly attractive, and it keeps you guessing a bit.
I have to admit, though, that the full track list could have been edited. There are eleven songs plus three bonus tracks, and it is difficult to get through for me. I think this record could have been much stronger with two or three songs eliminated, especially some of the songs that feel like filler in the second half. On top of that, the bonus tracks are re-recordings of earlier Tantric songs, so they feel pointless and also lack some of the little nuances I’ve come to love over the last 20 years. The final track is a cover of a Chris Stapleton song, which just isn’t my thing.
This is a shame, too, because the album starts out strongly. “Alone” is a powerful opener, “Walk That Way” boasts a sweet synth line that I would have loved to see incorporated more, “Twisting and Turning” has a fantastic opening groove and one of those signature Tantric choruses I mentioned, and “Can’t Find This” is a rock solid ballad. And, of course, the lead single “Living Here Without You” comes next, and is great.
Starting with “The Words to Say”, though, the album starts stumbling. This song is awkward and just poorly written, and I feel like much of the second half follows suit. Even the closing title track is lackluster, and so the album feels like it should have ended several tracks earlier. When it finally ends, you don’t get the urge to hear it again, even though the first several tracks are really good.
I’m glad Tantric is still around, and I still love their sound. I do feel like they could exercise some self-editing, and I think doing so could really help them achieve greater longevity going forward. I do appreciate that they are celebrating their history with the bonus tracks, though I don’t really like re-recordings, but I do think that celebrating their past and focusing on the tightness found in the first 5-6 tracks on The Sum of All Things will keep fans interested indefinitely.
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