Tanith - Voyage
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There is perhaps no band keeping the spirit and sound of 70s hard rock and heavy metal alive more so than Tanith. Formed in 2017, the band embraced that era wholeheartedly, resulting in 2019's aptly titled In Another Time, which instantly earned cult status and put them on the map. Now, they return with Voyage, picking up where they left off and once again demonstrating their mastery when it comes to this niche. "I wanted more of the same but different in some marginal way," explains vocalist/guitarist Russ Tippins (also of Satan). "Voyage is the sound of the universe speaking to mankind through the medium of Tanith. Or, if you like, twin-guitar heavy rock with dual singers which, if you grew up in the 1970s, will make you want to bounce over to the nearest record store. On a space hopper."
While their debut came together easily, this time around there were hurdles to overcome, first and foremost the Covid 19 lockdown, which geographically split up the band, Tippins living in the UK while vocalist/bassist Cindy Maynard and drummer Keith Robinson dwelt in Brooklyn. Once life finally returned to 'normal' and they were ready to record, they were hit by another bombshell with guitarist Charlie Newton abruptly bowing out of the band the day before tracking began. "Speaking as one part of a two-guitar band, it felt like trying to fly with one wing," says Tippins. "It happened so suddenly we were dumbstruck. I guess we sat around for a few days thinking he was sure to walk through the door at any moment. But soon enough we realised we'd have to try to find a way to make this record without Charlie and I'm not just talking about laying down his lines. It's about the shared dream we had with him. The conviction he brought to that dream. The four-way belief now reduced to three."
All it takes is one exposure to the record to know they have not missed a step. Exploding to life with "Snow Tiger" they make it clear who is in charge, while the swinging grooves of "Mother Of Exile" and the bouncy, rousing "Flame" take them in different directions. Everything is united under the title, which has more than one meaning, Robinson pointing out "With Russ living in the UK and Cindy and I here in Brooklyn, everything this band does starts with a voyage. And doing the record with Charlie dropping out at the last second, we were in uncharted territory; figuring things out on the fly and making decisions as a three-piece, we felt we were starting a new voyage as a band." At the same time, according to Maynard, "We were thinking of space, man. And vastness. And going on a journey of musical awesomeness. I think my suggestion - after we tried many others - was 'Star Voyage' and Russ said it sounded like a TV show, so we shortened it to Voyage as it seemed to really fit for all the reasons Keith stated." When it comes to lyrics Tanith are storytellers and they are inspired by their experiences, while focusing more on themes of airy fantasy rather than violent reality, and according to Tippins "more heavy rock than heavy metal." "Snow Tiger" centers on resilience and is an allegory for inner strength, about not giving up when finding oneself up the creek without a paddle, while "Flame" was inspired by happenings during the lockdown. "There's a saying that it's darkest just before dawn. But what if it keeps getting darker and dawn never comes?" says Tippins. "The global events of 2020 felt very much like that, and "Flame" is a retrospective take on that time. In this narrative, the darkness is not the virus itself but the way that people turned against each other. It was heart-sinking to see how quickly we could lose our humanity at such a time. The news every day seemed to reinforce the gloom. Yet there were isolated flickers of hope to hold on to. Tiny instances of light at the end of the tunnel. This song is about grabbing those moments with both hands."
Returning to Brooklyn's Excello Recording and engineer Hugh Pool - the same combination used for tracking In Another Time - the band produced the album themselves, with Pool mixing. The sessions were a fun time for Tanith, again recording to tape rather than digital and utilizing vintage amps and speakers to find the best possible sounds for the instruments. "Just having the time every day all day to be in the music was a big deal and all of our energy went into this project even after leaving the studio," says Maynard. "We were thinking and breathing the music, constantly working on parts and ideas. We came in well prepared overall, and that gave us time to try out different sounds for different parts to get just the thing we were looking for." Given that they established themselves as a twin-guitar band on their debut they also brought in an extra player, Andee Blacksugar, best known for touring with Peter Murphy and as a member of KMFDM, now also a member of Blondie, who Robinson had played with before. "Andee grew up on Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead so there was no stylistic divide with us. He came in and really played great. We were lucky he was around and lived 10 minutes away!"
With the record fully realized, the band are eager for people to hear it, and they are confident that it is worth taking the time to listen to it - and experience it - in all its old school glory. "It's worth an hour of anyone's time for the sound alone," says Tippins. "I can think of only two other rock bands in the entire world right now that records onto 24-track analogue tape. If all you've ever known is digitally produced music you really need to listen to Voyage on vinyl and experience the difference. And I'm not talking about vinyl pressed from masters recorded on Pro Tools. At no point from tracking to pressing has any of the music on Voyage been digitized. It will open your eyes."